River Thames

River Thames

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

Environment Agency

Further Information

You only need a licence for the stretch upstream of Teddington Locks. This section is managed by the Environment Agency. The stretch downstream of Teddington Locks is tidal and therefore does not require a licence. It is managed by the Port of London Authority.

Distance: 215 miles

Arguably the most famous river in England, the River Thames has played a vital part in the development of London as a capital city since Roman times.

Measuring 215 mile long it is officially the longest river in England (that doesn’t cross country borders). The Thames is an important part of life for many people in the South of the country.

It’s host to many races and large water-based events, as well as playing a role in industry to present day.

The Devizes to Westminster canoe race takes place every Spring on the River Thames. An endurance race for paddlers, the race runs through the night with paddlers competing for the best time in mixed and single crafts.

Of course, there’s also the popular Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge in the rowing world, which takes place every Spring between Putney and Chiswick.

The river is quite wide and fast flowing in parts and paddlers should consider river levels and weather before they set out for a paddle. The Thames also becomes tidal below Teddington Lock, and therefore paddlers should check the tide timetables too.

The section above Teddington is managed by the Environment Agency and below Teddington, by the Port of London Authority. Please follow the PLAs useful document – Paddling on the Tideway.

There are several weirs popular with playboaters. These include Double, Abingdon, Sutton Courtenay, Marpledurham, Marsh, Hambledon and Hurley weir among others.