Frequently Asked Questions
These are the most frequently asked questions we’ve had over the years. If you’re still unclear about something, please contact us.
Can I just hire some canoes and do our own trip?
We only offer fully guided tours. Most people find the guides really add to the whole experience with their knowledge of the river and tips on how to paddle a canoe.
If you just want to hire equipment, we recommend Outdoor Hire Centres at Sudbury. Mention our name if you contact them.
Do I have to be fit to undertake the journey?
We expect you to paddle your own canoe unaided for two sessions of three hours each per day, but there will be short breaks to stretch your legs and take on drinks at the portages. You must be able to get in and out of a canoe onto a jetty without assistance. You will also be expected to portage your own canoe, with a partner, around weirs. This involves pulling the canoe out of the water, carrying it for ~20-50 metres and sliding it down steps or riverbank back into the river.
Our River Guides will show you the correct paddling and portage techniques so that you can have a safe, enjoyable and informative trip.
How long are the tours?
Full 2 day tour:- This is split into four sessions:
Upper River: Sudbury – Bures( lunch)- Wissington
Lower River: Wissington – Stratford(lunch) – Cattawade
Each session is approximately 5-7 miles long and takes around 3-4 hours. The total paddling time for each day is therefore 6-8 hours, which is a significant effort over two days. We recommend doing the full journey as separate one day tours spread over two weekends.
1 day tour:– On a one day tour you can do either of the legs above. We normally run Upper River on Saturday & Lower River on Sunday.
Do you provide safety equipment?
Yes, we provide automatic lifejackets. These are less bulky and more comfortable than solid foam buoyancy aids. If the lifejacket comes into contact with water, a gas cartridge will immediately inflate the jacket like a car air-bag. In the event of the jacket inflating due to misuse, you will be expected to pay £10 towards a new gas cartridge. Children should be made aware of this by parents/guardians.
When and where do the tours start from?
We will meet at Rushbanks Farm campsite bright and early at 8am in order to keep to schedule. We will provide you with directions to the campsite, where you can leave vehicles.
Where do we eat?
Upper River Tour lunchtime: Fixed lunch at The Eight Bells, Bures.
Saturday evening meal: Not provided by RSB. Free choice of pubs. There are 8 good quality pubs & inns to suit all budgets, within 5 miles of the campsite. We will provide you with details. We recommend you book tables for Saturday evenings.
Sunday morning: For those who’ve camped overnight, they can use our marquee to make their own breakfast.
Lower River lunchtime: Meal at a riverside pub in Stratford St Mary.
We provide drinks bottles for water or orange squash & cereal bars while paddling, but feel free to bring along your favourite snacks.
Can children come on the trips?
We encourage and welcome families to experience our canoe tours. We do have some common sense restrictions so that everyone can have a safe and enjoyable trip. We’ve found that these trips are not suitable for children under 8 years of age, as the days are quite long. Children between 8 and 13 years can use the centre seat in the canoe at a much reduced rate. Children above 13 can occupy an end seat, but must be able to paddle for a full day and will be charged the full adult rate. Contact us to discuss your specific needs.
It’s the parent or guardian’s responsibility to look after their children while on the trip. We do not allow MP3 players, mobile phones or other electonic music devices to be used on the river as they can disturb wildlife and the enjoyment of other river users. Also, if they fall into the river they will sink and we cannot retrieve them for you!
Any necessary medication should be carried and delivered by the parent or guardian.
When do we arrive back?
We cannot be specific, as some parties like to enjoy the marvellous scenery along the river at a leisurely pace. Bad weather can also slow down progess.
The Upper River tour aims to finish at Wissington campsite between 4-5pm.
The Lower River tour aims to arrive at Cattawade around 5pm. After packing away all your belongings and loading up the canoes, the minibus will transport you back to Wissington with an arrival time of around 6pm ready for your journey home.
What happens in case of emergency?
You will be in good hands. RSB have never had to summon external assistance to help with any incident on our tours. There are no rapids or white water on the river and is therefore suitable for complete beginners. The guides are experienced and can point out dangers before they happen. They also carry a first aid kit, spare life jackets, GPS handset and mobile phone. If necessary, the minibus can be summoned to several access points along the river.
I cannot make the weekends, can I come along midweek?
Yes by all means, contact us. The minimum number for a viable tour is 6. Don’t worry if your party is less than 6, as we will merge two or more parties to make it viable.