Frequently asked questions

What should I expect?

Let the adventure begin...

We’ll take good care of you from the moment you arrive. Please arrive at Lee Valley White Water Centre 30 minutes before your booking. One of our qualified members of staff will kit you out with all the equipment and clothing you’ll need and introduce you to your raft guide and group – now’s the time to make friends as team work is key if you want to stay aboard your raft!

Your raft guide will run through a full safety briefing and provide the basics in rafting techniques before taking you onto the lake where you’ll take part in an activity assessment. During this we will cover rescue techniques, paddling techniques and how to protect yourself in moving water. From this point on it’s action all the way!

Due to the speed of the rapids, this exhilarating experience is not suitable for anyone under the age of 14 and anyone not confident in open water.

What do I need to bring?

All equipment is provided – just bring your swimmers and a towel. We’ll provide wetsuits, buoyancy aids, helmets and wet boots. However, if you’d prefer to bring your own wet boots and/or wetsuit please feel free to bring them along – wetsuits must be full length and wet boots must cover your ankle. Free lockers are available for you to store all your belongings.

What time do I need to arrive at the centre and how long should I allow for my rafting experience?

Please arrive 30 minutes before your rafting experience is due to start to ensure that you are on time. The rafting session will last for two hours so we ask you to allow three to four hours at the centre from moment of arrival to your departing time.

Upon arrival you’ll be kitted out with a wetsuit, buoyancy aid, helmet and boots before going through a safety briefing and the basics in rafting techniques. You’ll then  take part in an activity assessment on the lake. During this we will cover rescue techniques, paddling techniques and how to protect yourself in moving water. It’s here that you’ll learn the secrets of navigating the world class white water course.

How many runs down the course will I get?

The raft guide will tailor sessions so each group will get the very best experience possible. Some people may prefer straight top to bottom runs, while the hardier may prefer to get stuck in and play on the stoppers and waves. Dependant on the type of group and duration of run you should expect several runs down the course.

How long will it take to go down each course?

It will depend on the ability of the paddlers and at what level of difficulty the course is set at. This can be changed to suit people’s requirements, along with what activities they are participating in. For example the Games obstacles and gates were set ensuring that the course was a real challenge for the Olympians.

However this can be altered for people of all abilities and together with the Legacy Loop will mean that the centre will be able to offer exciting water sport opportunities for a wide range of people.

Is there a minimum age for white water rafting?

The minimum age for rafting is 14. There is no upper age limit.

I have a disability, can I take part in white water rafting?

Yes, wherever possible we offer equal access to all people. Please contact the centre to discuss your individual disabilities and requirements.

Do I need to be able to swim?

You will need to be able to adopt and maintain the Defensive Swim position and orientated body position away from danger (lying on back, feet down stream, with legs kept up on/near the waters surface). To see what this entails please see our video on our activity assessment page.

Do I need to be fit?

A reasonable level of fitness is required to take part in any physical activity.

Can I wear my glasses?

If glasses are a necessity for the participant of the activity we would encourage plastic lenses or contact lenses as glass lenses are not suitable.

My friends have rafted before, can I still go in the same raft as them?

Yes absolutely, our raft guides are fantastic at judging what each group want and every experience is tailored to each group.

How many people go in a raft? Will I be with strangers?

A raft will contain upto nine people. Unless you charter a raft you'll be teamed up with other individuals for the duration of your session. Unfortunately we're unable to guarantee your group will be kept together unless you book to charter a whole raft.

What happens if I fall out?

If you fall out you could well take a tumble into grade 4 rapids, so be prepared. Our bank safety team will be on hand to rescue you and safely help you out of the water before helping you back aboard your raft. You will have been taught the safe swimming position and how to get out of the water in your earlier activity assessment.

Is white water rafting a suitable experience for a Stag/Hen do?

Yes, white water rafting is the perfect way to celebrate yours or your friends upcoming stag do or hen party with loads of fun to be had but please ensure no alcohol is consumed before you take part in your activity. However, you will of course be welcome in our licensed cafe bar after your session.

Can I bring a camera or ‘Go pro’?

For safety reason we don’t allow anyone to attach anything to their person which can increase the risk of entrapment or collision with other participant so chest harnesses and helmet mounts are not allowed. The best option is to give the camera to your support crew or take advantage of the excellent on site photo and video offers.


How long is the course?

There are two courses at the centre:

  • the 300m Olympic Standard Competition Course with a nerve jangling drop of 5.5m from the start pool to the finish
  • a 160m Legacy Loop with a gentler drop of 1.6m from the start pool to the lake.

Conveyors will carry your raft/canoe back up to the start pool - so there's no need to get out and carry it back.

I am not qualified, but am of 3* standard. Am I able to use the white water course?

You will need to prove your abilty by taking our Kayaking Competency Assessment where you will demonstrate the key skills necessary to navigate the white water safely. This will include, but is not restricted to, forward and backward paddling, breaking into and out of eddies, river etiquette and support strokes/eskimo rolls. Upon successful completion you will become a member of the Lee Valley White Water Centre and will be able to book future kayaking sessions online.

What can you do on the lake?

People will be able to use the lake to get used to the canoes and kayaks, perfecting important techniques and strokes required on the courses, or they can simply have a relaxing paddle.

Why are there two courses?

Between the two courses and the lake, the centre has a full range of white water grades from one to four. This allows opportunities for all levels of paddler to access the facility with opportunities to develop their skills.

Does the centre offer instructor lead canoe/kayak sessions?

Check our kayaking for beginners page and our full weekly planner to see when canoe/kayak sessions are run at the centre and also at Herts Young Mariners Base. We also offer bespoke private and group kayaking tuition.

Does the course have a freestyle surf wave?

Yes, the course has a full range of features.

Can I canoe to the centre?

Yes you’ll be able to utilise the excellent water networks to get to the centre. The Olympic Delivery Authority is currently working with British Waterways to establish safe and effective beaching areas for canoes that will not hinder other river or towpath users.

Can I bring my own kayak?

Yes you can, but it will need to be in appropriate condition for use on the white water channels. We also ask that it's clear of any objects such as rescue equipment and throw ropes so as not to cause any problems with the centre's pumping system.

I've booked a beginners kayaking session what should I wear?

We can provide a wetsuit so you only need to bring a towel and swim suit or shorts. You can wear your own wetsuit if you have one or if you have your own kayak specific waterproofs you may bring these too.


How will the area benefit?

The Lee Valley White Water Centre will provide the area with a major leisure attraction and will be a catalyst to the wider regeneration of this part of Hertfordshire and nearby Essex.

The centre will benefit the area through business, employment, education, tourism, culture, volunteering and sporting opportunities.

The entire area will benefit from having a world class sporting venue that will enhance existing leisure attractions in the area creating a destination for people across the region and improving the local economy. In legacy local suppliers will be used to support events and visitors will boost local accommodation.

The centre has been built in one of the most deprived wards in Hertfordshire; this venue provides different activities through a variety of programmes from regeneration of the area to education programmes and activities.

Can I park at Lee Valley White Water Centre?

Parking is free for everyone using the centre, whether you’re rafting, canoeing or just popping in to use our cafe.

We have 350 spaces. If you want to use the rest of Lee Valley Regional Park you can also try any of our other car parks: Fishers Green (EN9 2EF) in the south of River Lee Country Park and Pindar car park (EN8 9AJ) in the north of River Lee Country Park, along with a number of other car parks:

  • Turnford Brook (EN8 0XG) and Cheshunt Country Walk (EN8 9AJ) in the North of River Lee Country Park.
  • Hooks Marsh (EN9 2ED) and the Lee Valley Park Farms (EN9 2EF) with excellent links to River Lee Country Park.
  • More details on car parks in River Lee Country Park

Where can I walk my dog?

You can still continue to walk your dog around River Lee Country Park, but because of the fast flowing water at Lee Valley White Water Centre, this site isn't suitable for dogs.

Is there a lot of noise?

No the rafting and canoeing will be set in a very tranquil setting and many spectators and visitors will be able to relax and enjoy the activity and landscaped surroundings in a relatively quiet environment.

Will floodlights disturb me?

These will be specifically designed to light the areas they are required for and not the surrounding area.

What is the aim of the centre?

It's three fold:

  1. It will be a great fun day out for thousands of people every year enjoying adrenalin pumping white water rafting. It’s only 40 minutes from central London. As well as rafting the centre is home to the Team GB canoe squad and has thousands of people enjoying canoe and kayak activities, plus a huge range of clubs, groups and schools along with elite paddlers.
  2. It provided a world class sports venue to host the Olympic canoe and kayak events for the London 2012 Olympic Games where up to 12,000 spectators each day watched five days of intense Olympic competition.
  3. The Lee Valley White Water Centre will provide the area with a major leisure attraction and will be a catalyst to the wider regeneration of this part of Hertfordshire and nearby Essex. The centre will benefit the area through business, employment, education, tourism, culture, volunteering and sporting opportunities.

Why was the centre built?

Plans for a white water attraction in this part of Lee Valley Regional Park go back 15 years and have been part of the Authority's and British Canoe Unions strategic plans way before the Olympic bid. Extensive studies were carried out as to the suitability of the area to build the centre. This site near Waltham Cross was selected as the ideal location.

What redevelopement works are taking place?

Redevelopment plans are taking place at the centre to enhance the visitor experience at this world class venue. Visit our redevelopment works page to find out more.

How do I get a job at the centre?

All jobs at Lee Valley White Water Centre will be available through the main Lee Valley Regional Park website at leevalleypark.org.uk. There'll also be adverts in local papers, magazines and online forums. these will also be promoted on our facebook and twitter accounts.

When is the centre open?

Check our Plan your visit page for our current opening times.

Can I hire the centre for a party?

Yes there are function rooms that can be hired out for functions, events and corporate training or away days.

Is there a café there? Can anybody use it?

Yes, there is a licence cafe bar both for visitors who are rafting, canoeing or kayaking and also those that just want to watch the action on the centre's terrace whilst enjoying hot or cold food and beverages.

A café is also open to visitors in the pavillion at the bottom of the main Olympic Standard Competition Course.

Are there showering facilities available?

Yes, showers are located within the changing rooms and there are hair dryers available to use too.

Why is the course fenced?

The site area is fenced for security but the course is designed to replicate a mountain river. The course and surrounding areas are designed to be as safe and as natural looking as possible.

There's no charge to access the site's landscaped areas during normal operation, so spectators can watch the action whilst relaxing in the surrounding areas or from the café inside the centre. Larger competitions and championships will be ticketed.

When can I book my white water rafting experience?

You can book your rafting experience online now or call our Customer Service Team.

What’s the latest I can book?

Online bookings will close seven days prior to the activity taking place, however bookings may be available within this time through reception.

Can I pay a deposit and pay the remaining balance on the day?

No. To book any activity we'll need full payment at the time of booking.

Can I pay cash?

Yes. Cash payment can be taken in person when bookings are made through the centre's reception desk.

How much does it cost?

For all of our latest rafting prices please see our plan your visit page

Can I book one of the promotional offers?

All our offers are subject to availability and are issued on a first come first served. Our birthday offer can only be booked by the original recipient of the promotion.

For canoeing and kayaking prices please check the relevant pages:

Kayaking for beginners

Members canoeing and kayaking (including Kayaking Competency Assessment)



Lee Valley White Water Centre

Station Road
Waltham Cross
Hertfordshire EN9 1AB

08456 770 606*

*Calls will cost 2 pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

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