The River Avon offers a great environment for paddlecraft. Based on the  river grading scheme, when the river is showing green on the level gauges, the Avon is sheltered water, less than grade 1. (but please check the river levels to make sure it is safe for your activities). There are plenty of places to launch including several County Council car parks with specialised canoe launch points. 


Does a paddlecraft require a licence to paddle on the River Avon?


Licencing for paddle craft – option 1

If you are looking for a short term licence, maybe for a weekend, then these can be purchased directly through this website or from our toll stations for as little as £6. Click here to purchase a short term licence for your kayak, paddleboard or small craft..

Paddle Craft Short Term Licence


Annual licences can be purchased here:

Paddle Craft Annual Licence

Option 2 – Annual Licence with British Canoeing 

The Avon Navigation Trust was one of the first Waterways Authorities in the country to work in partnership with British Canoeing allowing open and free access for British Canoe Members since the 1970’s. ANT still work closely with British Canoeing and you may choose to join as an ‘On the Water’ member. As well as covering for use on the River Avon and other waterways there are other benefits for BC members such as 3rd party insurance. For your membership to cover the licence required to navigate the River Avon, you must carry your Membership card whilst paddling. 

British Canoe Membership Page


Types of Craft 

The bylaws describe the craft in this category as ‘unpowered’ and that they must be ‘fit for river navigation’ (kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and rowboats are fit to navigate the river, where as inflatable toys, or home made rafts are not acceptable) 


Launch Points and Trips

There are several idyllic launch points along the river – and they can be joined together to easily make a ‘trail’.  


Portages and Locks

PLEASE NOTE not all the locks have easy canoe or kayak portage


There are 17 locks along the river that will require portaging. Some of these have designated portage points (with signs) that are easy to portage with all type of craft. However, some of the locks and weirs need to be portaged using the boat moorings adjacent to the locks. These are usually a few feet high, which makes them usable for paddleboard portage, but please be aware that this can be high to portage with a kayak. 

ANT have been liaising with British Canoeing to set up a series of recognised ‘trails’, with start and finish points at easy to access car parks. ANT are also working through each lock to improve the portage access.  


Visiting Groups 

Please feel free to contact us if you are a visiting group – we can give advice on which locks have better portages and help you plan your route. 

If you are a visiting group or club please let the ANT office know prior to your visit or activity. You may require an event licence or a commercial licence  depending on your plans, even if you are British Canoe members.


Commercial Operators

Any commercial operators wishing to operate on the Avon, offering lessons, hiring craft or even for a visit, require written consent from ANT prior to operating on the river as well an Avon Navigation Commercial Licence per craft. This is a legal requirement stipulated in the bylaws. Affiliation to any other organisation does NOT cover this requirement on the River Avon. Contact the office for full details and a commercial licence application form.