Staying safe around water 

Visitors to the Lee Valley might feel it looks enticing to enter our open water during warm and hot weather but it’s against our byelaws to swim in the lakes and water courses in the park. This is on top of all the other good reasons to not dip your toe in such as:

  • Disturbing the wildlife that live there

  • Possible poor water quality (Read more here)

  • Hidden dangers below the water’s surface

  • It can be cold enough to cause Cold Water Shock even on the hottest days

Report any of the following incident on the numbers below:

  • unruly or dangerous behaviour in and around water

  • accidents, incidents or near misses                                       


Contact us:


Our rivers and waterbodies are fantastic havens for wildlife. We all enjoy seeing birds nesting and with young during the spring and summer months. Entering the water and disturbing wildlife during this time can cause them to abandon the nest and us losing a vital part of our wildlife's lifecycle that ensures their population for years to come. 

Water quality and hidden dangers 

Unfortunately, industrial and domestic pollution sometimes finds its way into the River Lee which can lead to low water quality. This water can cause health issues to anyone who enters it. Additionally, Lee Valley Regional Park's industrial past also means that hidden dangers such had old equipment maybe hidden below the surface which could injure and even trap people who enter the water. 


Cold Water Shock 

Even though the weather maybe warm in the summer, the water temperature remains low. The average is about 12°C and rivers are even colder. Entering water of this temperature can causes the body to go into Cold Water Shock, which we have unfortunately seen people die from in the park. ​The RNLI also have some really useful information on their website covering Cold Water Shock

Although we understand some people are accustomed to open water swimming, seeing people swimming in lakes and rivers can entice children and young people who are not experienced swimmers to enter the water. If you wish to take part in open water swimming please check Herts Young Mariners Base for their supervised sessions.

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Rangers from Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and community safety service Parkguard will maintain a high presences throughout the Park and are able to give advice however please read the below information before you head out in our open spaces. It is also a Byelaw offence to enter into any water within the Regional Park so please follow our advice:

  • Think SAFE – Stay Away From the Edge

  • Do not go in to the water under any circumstances – NO PADDLING, NO SWIMMING AND NO WATER CRAFT!

  • Do not go into the water to rescue wildlife or pets, as they are normally able to get themselves out

  • Do not take unnecessary risks in or around water bodies

  • Do read and take notice of warning signs. Think about the hazards near to and at the water’s edge, banks can be slippery when wet. If you fall in, it may be difficult to get out

  • Do not assume because you can swim in a pool that you can deal with the challenges of open water swimming

  • Do not consume alcohol in or around water bodies as it may seriously impair your ability and judgment

  • Do keep your dogs on a lead when near water for their safety.



  • Do discuss the dangers of playing near open water, so children are aware

  • Do make sure you know where your children are while out in the Park

  • Do not leave children unsupervised near ponds, rivers, lakes or other bodies of water


Float to Live: If you're in trouble in cold water:

  • Fight your instinct to thrash around

  • Lean back, extend your arms and legs

  • If you need to, gently move your arms and legs to help you float

  • Float until you can control your breathing

  • Only then call for help or swim to safety

  • Please take a moment to watch this video https://www.respectthewater.com/


If you see someone get into trouble:

  • Call the emergency services 999

  • Do not attempt to go out into the water yourself

  • Tell the person to ‘keep still’ to maintain heat and energy, and offer reassurance to keep them calm

  • Try finding something which will extend your reach, such as a rope, pole, clothing tied together or a branch

  • Ensure you are stable on the bank either by lying down or having someone hold on to you and reach the  object out and pull them in

  • If you cannot find something to reach with, try using an object that will float and throw that out to them

  • Once the person has been rescued, keep them warm by covering them with warm clothing, blankets etc. Do not undress them until they are in a warm place

  • Do not rub their skin and do not give an alcoholic drink

  • The casualty must go to hospital even if they appear to be unaffected

  • Continue to reassure the casualty and keep them talking until help arrives


Further tips and advice:

  • Always let others know where you walking and wear appropriate clothing when out in the park

  • Be aware of your surroundings, nearby access routes or names of car parks should you need to provide location information to emergency services

  • A number of our bridges are labelled with reference codes that can be provided to emergency services to help them locate you

  • To report non-emergency concerns or feedback to Lee Valley Regional Park please either call 03000 030 610 between 08:00 - 17:00 or 01992 210 196 between 17:00 - 08:00

  • Alternatively, send a text to Rangers with your message to 62277 – please include the site location and nature of the issue you are reporting (note that this is not monitored 24/7)


We are running a trial of what3words in River Lee Country Park. This app locates you with astonishing accuracy. It has divided the entire world into 3m x 3m squares and given each one a unique three word code. You can download the app here. It is particularly useful if you need help in the park where it can be difficult to guide Emergency Services to exactly where you are. 


Some Emergency Services use what3words. Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service already use it and Hertfordshire Police are trialing it.


If you download the app and need help, you’ll be able to give the Emergency Services your exact location. We are backing this up with what3words signage in key places in River Lee Country Park.  


If you need to call for emergency assistance, ask the operator if they use what3words and give them your location either via the app or from one of the what3words signs in the park. 

Robbie Lea Water Safety Partnership

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is part of this important partnership set up in the wake of the tragic death of teenager Robbie Lea in a lake in the Regional Park in May 2017. 


The partnership was inspired by the efforts of Robbie’s mother, Sarah, to raise awareness of water safety issues. It brings a group of agencies and individuals together to support and enhance water safety education initiatives. The partnership is focusing its efforts on the borough of Broxbourne, and so far, over 4,000 young people have been engaged through assemblies and practical water safety demonstrations at secondary schools throughout the Borough and initiatives have the potential to be shared in the future across Hertfordshire and Essex.


The partnership has also successfully delivered annual multi-agency community safety events at Lee Valley White Water Centre which has gained extensive press and media coverage from many regional and national outlets. In 2018 Partnership was awarded the ‘Innovation in Public Service and Community Focus’ award at the Hertfordshire Constabulary Chief Constable Awards and also the ‘Community Safety Initiative of the Year’ accolade at last year’s HEART awards. The partners involved are:

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