HCC Trip Grading

The information below is for general guidance. If in doubt, speak with one of the Club Coaches or the Trip Leader.

The Trip Leader will make the ultimate decision as to whether someone can take part in their trip. This decision will be based on numbers of interested participants, participant skill level, and river/weather conditions leading up to the day of the trip.

If you have any concerns about the trip, contact the Trip Leader in good time to discuss the plans and river/weather conditions. If you need to cancel your participation, please contact the Trip Leader as soon as possible.

Be realistic about your skill, experience, and fitness level. Remember, you might be ‘paddle’ fit, but trips can involve multiple or difficult portaging and therefore require a different level of stamina. You should be able to perform a self-rescue/be rescued.

Some trips may be in different craft e.g. canoes or closed cockpit kayaks and therefore members will have to be trained in those areas.

River flow should be considered before setting out on the water, e.g. yellow boards on the river Thames.

Clothing, equipment, hydration & nutrition

Please ensure that you have appropriate clothing with you on the trip, which should include extra layers and something wind-proof even on the hottest day. We advise that you always take a change of dry clothes in case you capsize.

Many trips involve stopping at a local café (or pub!) along the way. However, make sure that you have sufficient food with you to last the trip.

It is very important to keep yourself hydrated during trips. Some paddles are quite gentle, but you are still expending energy and need to take on fluids.

We also advise taking the following in a dry bag:

  • A basic first aid kit
  • An emergency energy bar or similar

Please take responsibility for your own well-being as you cannot rely on the Trip Leader or other participants to provide items!

Trip Grading
All HCC members are required to have passed their BCU 1 Star course, or have been assessed and their skill level approved by a Club Coach.

All participants must be willing to take advice from the Trip Leader and follow instructions quickly in the event of any incident.

Novice grade

Trips are suitable for all, including new members. You will have practised rescues and be comfortable with what to do should you capsize. You should be able to paddle around three to five miles and portage at least once.

Trip examples: return trips to Walton Bridge or Kingston Bridge, and improvers sessions

Intermediate grade

Trips are suitable for members who have paddled regularly and competently for some months. You will have practised rescues and be comfortable with rescuing others. You should be able to paddle up to ten miles and able to portage more than once.

Trip examples: return trip to Boulters Lock to Marlow Day (around 12 miles)

Intermediate Plus grade

Trips are suitable for members who have paddled regularly and competently for some months. You will have practised rescues and be comfortable with rescuing others. You should be able to paddle more than ten miles and able to portage regularly. You should be comfortable in varied river/weather conditions.

Paddling skills approaching BCU 2 star.

Trip examples: Longer day trips such as the River Mole with tough portages or weekends away to the Wye Valley – 18+ miles, and night paddling. Any trip which has shootable weirs, rapids (helmets are highly recommended).

Advanced grade

Trips are suitable for members with strong and proficient paddler, and competent and knowledgeable in rescues. You should be able to paddle more than ten miles and able to portage regularly. You should be comfortable in very challenging river/weather conditions. Paddling skills BCU 2 star above or skills approved by Club Coach.

Trip examples: Longer, more technical day trips, Club holidays abroad which could include sea kayaking.