Making the most of Lee Valley

by Ian Tokelove
white water kayaker on Lee Valley Legacy course

Kayaker at Lee Valley

Now that the Lee Valley White Water Centre has re-opened for public booking, here are a few tips for getting the most out of the centre.

Kit hire – the centre has a range of play boats and larger creek boats (Pyranah Burns) which can be hired for £15.00 a session. They will throw in a helmet, buoyancy aid, spray deck, wetsuit and a paddle for another fiver, making £20.00 in total.

Kayaking for beginners – Lee Valley has teamed up with local clubs and also runs its own training sessions for beginners. You can start on the flat water before progressing to the white water of the Legacy course. Available for both Juniors and Adults, the sessions cost approx £5.00 per hour. For more information see the Lee Valley website.

Expert coaching – you don’t have to be a beginner to benefit from coaching. Qualified coaches (L2 with Moderate Water Endorsement, first aid and four star leadership award) can take people who have not yet passed their assessments onto both courses. Your local club may have coaches who can do this, or you use Lee Valley’s professional kayak coaches. Coaches who wish to use the Lee Valley facilities should check with the centre to ensure they have the correct qualifications.

Hire the whole course – if you belong to a canoe club, or have enough mates, this is a great way to enjoy both courses. The Legacy course costs £200.00 per hour and the Olympic course costs £400.00 per hour. This price covers the cost of operating the huge pumps that drive the water around the courses.

For twenty paddlers this works out at just £10.00 per person for the Legacy and £20.00 per person for a glorious, raft-free hour on the Olympic. Paddlers don’t need to have passed the centre’s assessments to join a private hire, but the organiser will be expected to ensure that those paddling are of suitable competency. Talk to the centre for more information.

Go during the week – the centre doesn’t just open at weekends. Rafting means that the Olympic course is frequently open between 11am and 9pm on weekdays. The Legacy course also opens on some weekday evenings, perfect for an after-work paddle. The website gives dates and times.

For more information visit the Lee Valley website call 08456 770 606 or email

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