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Symonds Yat

Symonds Yat is one of the most iconic canoeing destinations in Britain. Thousands of canoeists navigate the rapids each year along their journey down the River Wye. In 2003, after a four year long appeal led by local canoeists, Symonds Yat rapid was purchased by British Canoeing, with help from Sport England and the EA.

It is because of the dedicated work of local volunteers, British Canoeing and the EA that this site will remain protected for paddlers enjoyment for future generations.

Expand Overview & Location


Symond Yat Rapid is an important place for canoeists. Thousands negotiate the short rapid each year on their journey downstream. Some come and play or train on the white water and some complete in the annual slalom event, organised by Cheltenham Canoe Club.

The rapids themselves were purchased in March 2003 by the BCU with the support of the Environment Agency following a successful four year long appeal by local paddlers. Following further fund raising and successful applications, substantial funding was secured from Canoe England and the EA enabling the groynes to be restored and made permanent.

A lot of valuable conservation work has taken place by the volunteers in and around the rapid, to improve the habitat the local wildlife. Willow planting for example has halted damaging erosion and prevented the ground being washed away.

It is because of the dedicated hard work and commitment of local volunteers that Symonds Yat has been protected and maintained for everyone’s enjoyment. British Canoeing is proud to be the custodian of such an iconic landmark and will go on caring for its upkeep for years to come.


Symonds Yat rapid needs little in the way of directions; situated on the River Wye, the rapid runs on river left of the island, shortly after the pubs and hotels of Symonds Yat.

Click here for the location on google maps. 

Expand Usage


Symonds Yat rapid is free for paddlers and groups to use and enjoy. The site is managed on behalf of British Canoeing by a group of local volunteers via the Symonds Yat Management Group (SYMG).

If you are a commercial provider interested in using site as a venue, booking with the SYMG is essential. Sole use of the site cannot be guaranteed, however prior arrangement is required to try and avoid overuse or clashes.  Use of the site as a venue does not entitle users to restrict passage or recreational use of the rapid.  All users are requested to ‘share the space’ in accordance with the British Canoeing ‘Clear Access, Clear Waters’ charter.

SYMG do not make a compulsory charge for commercial use of the rapid, however a voluntary donation is welcomed to continue to maintain and preserve this important site.

All income generated by SYMG at the rapid goes directly toward the upkeep. In both 2018 and again this year, £5000 was spent making repairs to the Groynes, which over the years had moved quite considerably. Regular maintenance to the rapids is expected to be needed to ensure the site remains safe and enjoyable for paddlers so all donations help make this happen.

For further information or to contact SYMG, please contact [email protected]

Expand Support


The future: The work to date has been very expensive and the rapid requires regular care and maintenance by local volunteers. Symonds Yat Rapid needs continuous funding to protect this important place for canoeists.

Donations to the Symonds Yat Management Group are welcome to help with the upkeep of the
rapids. Please contact [email protected]

Expand History


Symonds Yat derives its name from a 17th Century Sheriff of Herefordshire called Robert Symonds, "Yat" being the local name for a gate or pass. 

For the last 200 years the rapids have been primarily used for recreational purposes. From the late 1800's rowing boats carrying 6-12 people were used for sight seeing trips through the Yat Gorge down to Monmouth.

The present day major use of the rapids is by canoeists who since the 1950's have adopted the Yat Rapids as a major coaching and leisure facility. Wyedean Canoe Club has been based in the area since it was formed in 1968 and has produced some great competition champions, Olympic competitors and international expedition canoeists. Gloucester Canoe Club held slalom competitions on the rapids from the early 1970's until the crisis with the previous owners began in 1996. Raft races also occasionally pass down through them. The use of the site is of local, regional and national importance as they are the only accessible rapids of their kind in the south of England during the spring and summer.

Originally the Forestry Commission had extensive ownership of the river and adjacent land in the Forest of Dean. Since then ownership has passed through several hands. 

The rapids were purchased in March 2003 by British Canoeing with the support of the Environment Agency following a successful four year long appeal by a local group to buy them on behalf of all canoeists. Following further fund raising and successful applications for substantial funding from the Community Club Development Programme managed by Sports England and the Market Town Initiative the groynes are currently being restored and made permanent the and habitat improvements are being made for the local wildlife.