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Navigating a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard on the tidal Thames requires knowledge of the way the powerful tidal river operates and the way that the boats and ships navigate upon it.

The river above Putney is relatively benign and suitable for all types of canoeing and stand-up paddleboard craft as long as the right precautions are undertaken. Below Putney Bridge the river becomes increasingly sea-like and sea kayaks are most commonly used.

The guidance in the Paddling on the Tidal Thames 2015 guide below gives advice on how to navigate and stay safe on the river. Our Be Safe Be Seen guide gives advice on lighting too.

Stand-up Paddleboarding is a growing recreational activity on the tidal Thames.  Providing you follow the ‘Paddling on the Tidal Thames’ guide then you may paddleboard between Teddington Lock and Putney Pier during the day.

Paddleboarding downstream of Putney Pier is only permitted for more experienced paddlers who have undertaken recognised training courses and only at the times when the river will be less busy. The Stand-Up Paddleboarding on the Tidal Thames 2015 document below must be followed when paddling in this area. Contact for more information on these courses.

For guidance on using waist leashes, see:

If you are interested in paddling on the Thames, we strongly suggest joining one of the many paddling clubs on the river. Visit for club information. They can provide training, local knowledge and accompany you on your first trips out on the river. Alternatively, contact one of our Harbour Masters using the contacts at the bottom of the page for more advice.


Guidance Documents


Paddling on the Tidal Thames Guide 2015


Stand Up Paddleboarding on the Tidal Thames 2015



Vulnerable River Users Campaign


Recreational Users' Guide

Teddington to Broadness 

Broadness to Sea Reach



You, Your Canoe and the Environment

Be Safe, Be Seen Guide




Richmond Lock and Weir



Thames Barrier

PLA Byelaws, Rules and Regulations



Canoe England

Canal & River Trust

Environment Agency

On the water



Estuary to Crossness
Steve Rushbrook
Deputy Harbour Master (Lower)
Crossness to Teddington
Darren Knight
Assistant Harbour Master Recreational
0207 743 7909
PLA, London River House, Royal Pier Road, Gravesend, Kent DA12 2BG Tel. +44(0)1474 562200
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