Launch of The Paddler’s Code

Today British Canoeing launched the Paddler’s Code.

What is the Paddlers’ Code? 

The Paddlers’ Code, which has been developed in partnership with a range of stakeholders including Natural England, sets out the sort of things paddlers do to protect our environment. But also to respect other river and canal users and enjoy being on the water safely. It’s a simple set of good practice guidelines that we hope people will share and use every time they go out paddling. It is not about giving people a set of rules to abide by. It is more about describing the good things we do as a community to paddle responsibly.

How did it come about?

British Canoeing began working on this a while ago, following the refresh of the national Countryside Code. Natural England expressed an interest in working with British Canoeing to create a code just for paddlers, so they jumped at the chance. It has taken a bit of time, but British Canoeing wanted to ensure that they got this just right. 

 Why do you think it was needed?

Two main reasons. Firstly, when you looked around, there was a real mixed bag of guidance and advice for paddlers. There was no real consistency in language, or tone, so British Canoeing wanted to establish a clear message that everyone could understand and recognise.

Secondly, British Canoeing have had a huge influx of people into paddling in the last 2 years. Many of their latest members are new to the sport. This was a great opportunity to set out our responsibility to the environment, to each other and to staying safe.

 What are the key messages?

 British Canoeing have mirrored the Countryside Code with their key messages:




Within each of these, British Canoeing have broken it down into key actions that we can all support. So within Respect, they talk about how we respect each other and other users. Protect outlines the way we can care for and protect the environment. Enjoy is all about how we can keep ourselves safe. For many paddlers, these actions will be ‘what we do’ already, which is great! But for others, these things will be new, hence why they have pulled them together in one place.

 One thing British Canoeing have been clear about is that this is not a set of rules. It is not there to be policed, or enforced. A strap line emerged during filming, which was: “These are our places to enjoy and protect and this is our code”. It summed up what British Canoeing are trying to achieve with the project. The key message is that the code is ours as a community to own and live.

For more information…


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