Paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing

New on a trial basis in 2017: paddle boarding at Cheddar Reservoir!

We partnered with local ecologists, Natural England and Cheddar Watersports Club in 2016 to enable the 2017 paddle boarding trial at Cheddar Reservoir.

Paddle boarding is available to members and guests of the local community group that provides watersports at Cheddar Reservoir. The club is an evolution of Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club, and we are very much hoping that the trial will be a success!

For more information on how to get involved, visit the Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club website.

Please note: Paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing are not permitted on any other waterway currently.  See our FAQs below for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Why do you not allow paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing on waterways other than Cheddar Reservoir?

We have a proud history of enabling recreational activities on and around our waterways, being the first to permit sailing on an inland waterway (at Cheddar Reservoir) in 1947.  All recreational activities on our private waterways need to be carefully managed.

While still being a protected conservation site for wildlife, the specifics of Cheddar’s designated conservation status make it a much more suitable site for managed paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing than Chew Valley and Blagdon Lakes.

Cheddar Reservoir is also the only site to date where the local community has come forward with a sustainable proposal for managed paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing.

We are still open to sustainable proposals for new approaches and new arrangements!

Why can’t I just turn up with my own craft at any of your waterways and get afloat?

Unauthorised launch of crafts on our waterways is a criminal offence under our bylaws.  Bylaws are a common approach across all water company waterways in the UK to protect the environment, public safety and public order.

There are five main reasons why launching of crafts must be restricted and managed:

  1. Liability under UK law: Our waterways are privately owned. Under UK law, we have a legal duty of care to public safety on our private waterways, and unmanaged recreational activities expose us to financial and other liability. We are a major local employer and we serve the community – we are in this together!
  2.  Avoiding disturbance to wildlife and wildlife habitat: Our reservoirs at Chew Valley and Blagdon Lakes are internationally important wildlife sites. They have key conservation designations and are rightly protected. We have a legal responsibility to protect and enhance the designated conservation status at these sites. Unmanaged recreation can cause serious disturbance to wildlife, particularly around the reservoir margins and other sensitive areas. Unmanaged launching of craft and recreational activity near sensitive areas could be devastating to key species and the overall bird counts.
  3. Risk of the spread of invasive non-native species (INNS): This is an area of very serious concern for us and for our bill-paying customers. Aquatic invasive species, such as the zebra mussel, that may be transferred from other waterways can have a very harmful impact on our infrastructure as well as on the existing ecology of our waterways.
  4. Social equity: Other responsible lake users pay appropriate fees to ensure that drinking water customers do not subsidise their activities. It is unfair if other members of the public circumvent these managed approaches that are in place to ensure safe and environmentally sustainable enjoyment.
  5.  Intra-recreational harmony:  Existing lake users – the overwhelming majority of whom are part of the local community – wish to continue to enjoy their activities, and we need to be considerate of their rights.

Why doesn’t Bristol Water provide a managed watersports facility itself?

We apply our passion and focus on providing clean, safe drinking water to our 1 million customers. Our preferred model for recreations is to work with community partners who bring their expertise, passion and focus. We believe that this brings better service to users, helps keep water bills low and is more cost effective for our business.

We have a positive and supportive relationship with community-led watersports clubs that have leasehold agreements on our waterways. These arrangements provide well-managed, safe and enjoyable recreation for the community. We remain open to sustainable proposals for new approaches and new arrangements.