Common River Hazards

These photographs were all taken on grade 1 water.

Trees growing beside the river

Trees can present a serious hazard to the paddler, particularly in high water.

In the picture above, the trees extend into the river, leaving only a narrow gap for the canoe to pass. More of the trees is likely to be present in the channel, invisible under the water.


In the picture above, the river has risen up the banks and is flowing through trees. Hitting these would almost certainly result in a capsize and a paddler becoming snagged on the roots or branches could be pinned under the water.

Fallen trees

These can float down the river in high water levels and may be deposited in any place as the river drops.

In the picture above, fallen trees, and debris they have trapped, are almost entirely blocking the flow. The only safe option here is to portage round the hazard.

Here a submerged tree is almost invisible. Only a small branch is showing above the surface, but the remainder of the tree is present in the water. Keep well clear of any signs of submerged objects.

In low water conditions, the channel is restricted, and the only available water deep enough for paddling may be near the banks or trees. Here the canoe will need to pass close to the hazard to stay afloat.

Consider wading or portaging past hazards.

Riverside vegetation.

Here the river is flowing onto vegetation growing at the edge. A canoe or kayak hitting this would be pinned against it by the force of the water and capsized.

The water is likely to be exposing tree roots below the surface, creating a serious hazard to anyone in the water.

The large amount of debris, mostly branches, piled up on this bank, shows how objects, inlcuding canoes and kayaks, can be pinned against the bank in fast water. This debris has been left behind when the river level fell after flooding.

Banks which the current flows rapidly onto or past can be extremely hazardous and should be avoided.

Stationery objects in moving water.

The canoe has been swept onto the bridge broadside, and pinned against the stanchion, where it has been crushed by the pressure of the water.

This situation is extremely dangerous for anyone still in a canoe/kayak which becomes pinned, or anyone else in the water, who could be pinned by it against stationery objects.


Canoeing Opportunities:

Unaccompanied Hire

Guiding or Instruction



Adventure Equipment Ltd

01873 831825 - 07527 941245


Backwaters is associated with

Mountain & Water: Wales-wide Adventure Ltd. Guided Outdoor Activities:

Canoeing/Kayaking; Climbing/Abseiling; Caving; Wayfaring; Multi-activity.

 Date Last Modified: 08/01/13 Last