Access for All

Help us open up our rivers

British Canoeing is to launch a campaign to open up access to water called Clear Access, Clear Waters, the ask is simple, that canoeist be able to paddle on the waterways and rivers of Britain and we need you to help, by ensuring your MP, knows it is an important issue the their constituents. We want as many MPs from across the political spectrum to attend a launch meeting at Westminster on 28th November 2018.

This Campaign Letter, is a model letter for you to use, just fill in the blanks and send it either by post of email to your local MP. Click here to get the email address of your MP, by just tying in your post code on this site.


On 28thNovember 2018, British Canoeing will be launching its ‘Clear Access, Clear Waters’Charter in Westminster. It will address the matter of public access to English waterways. We understand that you will be invited to the launch event and we would greatly appreciate your time in attending and representing the paddling community in your constituency.

Waterways are a fantastic resource that should be available for everyoneto enjoy responsibly, without prejudice or exclusion. Currently the law surrounding access on water is unclear. At present just 4% of waterways are classed as ‘undisputed’, where canoeists can be on the water without threat of litigation or confrontation from angling groups or landowners. Instances of conflict and abuse toward canoeists and other water users such as open water swimmers are increasing and we feel change is urgently required.

The Sharks access local water by agreement, the canals and Osterley Park, but we are denied access to thousands of miles of rivers, which we would love to take people to, for the experience of paddling on rough water, enjoying the environment and being in the Countryside. Just near us at Batchworth, Rickmansworth we are prohibited to paddle on a nice loop of water on the River Colne, denying our youngsters the chance to practice skills locally, which will help them improve their technique, give them confidence and help them race. This is our issue, and you can help by contacting your MP and asking them to attend a meeting at Westminster, which is after all where they work, so not much of an ask for them is it?

At its root, there is a difference in opinion regarding interpretation of the law, Canoeists believe there is a historic right for everyone to access the water, to paddle on all ‘navigable’ waterways; Many anglers and landowners however believe rivers to be private on ‘off limits’ and do not wish their interests to be disturbed.

Nationally, around 1.8million people go canoeing each year, 300,000 monthly.  Our club itself has had over 2,500 people participating in Paddle Sport this year and provides opportunities for many people to get on the water and enjoy the fantastic sport that is canoeing.

We feel the situation regarding access on water is getting worse. If future generations are to become custodians of the natural environment and be engaged in its protection, then there must be clarity over rights of access.

Greater access to waterways will not only enable more people to paddle for health and enjoyment but increase the awareness of the environment. Paddlers are in a unique position to retrieve litter from otherwise inaccessible parts of our country – so greater access would be in the interests of working toward the 25 year plan ambitions.

It is not unreasonable to envisage a future where everyone can enjoy fair and shared access to waterand future generations can have the opportunity to engage fully with the ‘blue environment’.

This is a valuable opportunity to bring about landmark legislation that will benefit generations to come.

Campaign Letter

Many Thanks and good paddling