What happens if it is raining?

As we all know, the UK weather is very changeable. Canoe Trail runs watersports, paddling, and adventurous activities throughout the year. Unless you hear from us, your booking will run on the day agreed. A little bit of rain or liquid sunshine never stops our customers and you will discover that your skin is waterproof! 
 
On rare occasions (it only happens a couple of times a year) we may need to change your booking due to freak weather conditions. This includes extremely high river flows in spate or during heavy storms with lightning. 

What should I wear and bring?

We paddle all the year round and believe the old adage “There is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing”! Participants should wear light (gym style) clothing suitable for getting wet such as tracksuit bottoms or shorts and a top. Jeans are not the best things to wear. 
If cold then a thermal top or sweatshirt may also be needed. Hats and gloves are a great way to feel slightly warmer in winter and caps and wide-brimmed hats are also useful in summer to protect you from the sun. 
You should also bring a change of clothes in the event that you get wet.

What is the youngest age of children allowed on the water?

We recommend our youngest paddlers to be at least 3 years old. You and the child will need to be confident around water. Please contact us if you wish to bring children under 3 years.

What happens if I am late?

You will need to arrive 10 mins before your booking time to allow for registration etc. If you arrive late, please note that you may not be able to do the trip you booked and may have to do an alternative route. In some cases, you may not be able to paddle on that day. If you are running late then please let us know ASAP by calling our mobile number.

Can we bring our dog?

Yes, we love dogs and regularly take ours out in the canoe. However, if you are particularly nervous please remember that they can make the boats slightly more wobbly. Please also note that you can only bring your dog in the canoes, as they don’t fit in the kayaks. 

Does it matter if I’ve never paddled before?

The majority of our customers haven’t paddled before and our routes are great for beginners. The stretch of river that we operate on the River Great Ouse is Grade 1 also known as flat water, which means the water is slow-moving and calm. You will be given full bank tuition before you set off. 

Do I need to be able to swim?

Participants should be confident in and around water although they do not need to be swimmers. We will provide all safety briefings and equipment for the day, including a buoyancy aid for all paddlers.

Do we need to bring any special clothing or equipment?

Canoe Trail will provide all paddling equipment including boats, paddles, and buoyancy aids. We also have lightweight waterproof tops available for participants if the temperature is cooler. We also provide dry bags for your kit and valuables to keep it dry. You need to make sure that you fold the top 3 times or more to prevent water ingress. Pack light where possible as you need to carry everything you bring. We have canoe and kayak trollies which can help when portaging, please ask for one of these at the time of booking as they are not normally carried in the vehicles. The majority of people prefer to carry their canoes or kayaks without the trolley which can be a pain to set up. For some potentially ‘wetter’ activities such as raft building or stand-up paddleboarding then we may be able to provide long john or wetsuits. Please ask if you think you require these. 

Where does Canoe Trail operate?

Canoe Trail is based at Kempston Outdoor Centre and mainly operates on the River Great Ouse. Our half-day and day paddles include a unique blend of rural countryside with Bedford’s stunning Victorian Embankment. 
Our woodland accessible from the River Great Ouse is located conveniently on our popular paddle and camp route. There are other campsites further downstream allowing multiday paddling trips and mini-adventures.
We also run various trips around the UK throughout the year. Some useful location info:
 
  • Bromham Bridge (MK43 8LP) - Bedford End of the Bridge there is a small gravel car park.
  • Bedford Embankment (MK40 3QF) - Russell Park, adjacent to the Butterfly Bridge (parking with meters close to MK40 3PF / Cinema car park MK41 9LW).
  • Cardington Lock (MK44 3JW) Located at the back of Priory Business Park.
  • Woodland Campsite (MK44 3PX) Accessible on foot through the woodland, not by road.
  • Great Barford Bridge (MK44 3LF) New Road next to the Anchor Pub.
  • Eaton Socon Lock (PE19 8GW) River Mill Tavern is located next to the Lock.
  • St Neots Campsite (PE19 2PR) Riverside Campsite at St Neots.
  • Ambiance Cafe (PE19 7HD) Ambiance Cafe located on St Neots embankment

Are estimated durations for the trips accurate?

We have operated on this river for many years and have built up experience of how long it takes people to paddle each route. Our times allow the average time and we have graded all of our trips to further help you choose the right one for you (Slow, Medium, or Hard). Even our Hard trips will be easily achievable for those who are relatively fit and paddle at a steady rate. Please note if you think that you will not make the pick-up time, please call us immediately as you may have to be picked up at a later time.  

Do you take photographs?

We aim to take pictures at the start of your trip and post these to Facebook for your ease of access. If you take pictures of your paddling trip please tag them with #canoetrail, @canoetrails(Twitter), Canoe Trail at Trip Adviser, and Canoe Trail on Facebook.

Where can I park?

The more rural locations have lay-bys and small car parks available. Please allow time for parking so you are not running late. Parking in Bedford can be more of a challenge but the council does have their own designated parking locations, please have a look online for the closest one to your start point and prices.

How do I get back to my car at the end of my trip?

Your booking confirmation will provide you with a postcode for the start and finish of your trip. If you are not paddling a circular or out and back route, we will provide you with a complimentary shuttle service at the end of your paddle back to your vehicle. On busy days when we have lots of different groups paddling, we will need to run the drivers only.