River Avon in Bristol

River Avon in Bristol

LaunchesPublic RoutesKnown HazardsParking


Many waterways in England and Wales require a licence to paddle. Check the licence section below to see if this is one. Save money on your licence and secure paddling insurance by joining British Canoeing. Use our easy step RapidJoin process. Open the slider to join.

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River Licensing Information

License Authority

Canal and River Trust

Further Information

British Canoeing membership covers you from Hanham Lock (on the outskirts of Bristol) to Thimble Mill (Bath).
PLEASE NOTE: From Hanham Lock downstream, this section is managed by Bristol City Council and if you are paddling here you need to purchase a day ticket from the Bristol Harbour Office. The cost is approximately £7 for the day.

The River Avon in Bristol, or Bristol Avon as it is also known, rises in South Gloucestershire. It then flows through Wiltshire, to Bath and the Severn Estuary.

Although the river is only 13 miles from source to mouth, the river length is actually closer to 75 miles. Being wide in parts, it can be a windy affair when you do paddle it. But that’s all part of the adventure!

Due to the places the river flows through, it means the paddle is extremely picturesque in this part of the country. With chocolate box towns aplenty and graded buildings lining the route, it’s certainly a pretty spot.

It’s a great place to paddle for those looking at paddling some easy but fast flowing white water. There are also several weirs along the river to be aware of – see the map above for more. Saltford Weir is a relatively popular spot for playboaters looking to practice their freestyle moves.

Dragonflies on the River Avon in Bristol

The River Avon in Bristol is important for its dragonfly communities. It has populations of Scarce Chaser, a dragonfly only found in only six other areas in England. It also has a population of White-legged Damselfly.

Please note: From Hanham Lock downstream to Bristol this is managed by Bristol City Council. If you are paddling here you need to purchase a day ticket. You can buy these from the Bristol Harbour Office.