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For much of the year, the River Washburn is a boulder-strewn ditch on which canoeing is not possible. However on selected days of the year, Yorkshire Water releases water from Thruscross Reservoir, creating England's premier year-round, dam release facility - with 2.4km (1.5 miles) of grade 2-3, fast flowing water.

Expand Overview & Events

Overview & Events

Working in partnership with Yorkshire Water, British Canoeing leases the river and owns an area at its southern most end, commonly known as ‘The Woodyard’. Here there are basic facilities and parking. 

The Washburn site is volunteer managed by a subcommittee of the Yorkshire Regional Development Team. Throughout the year, the committee runs events and competitions for recreational, slalom and playboating.

From 2016, a spring break in events between May & June was brought in, to support efforts by Yorkshire Water to improve the ecology of the Washburn River. The break during the main spawning season, aims to improve numbers in the fish population.

2022 Washburn events update:

All events at the Washburn are dependent on water stocks held by Yorkshire Water in Thuscross
Reservoir. The provisional calendar is set at the start of the year, but all events are subject to change or cancellation nearer the time. 

Currently Yorkshire Water are not able to facilitate water release for the planned 2022/23 event calendar due to on-going engineer work to the reservoirs network and the recent drought conditions with reduced rainfall.

Expand Usage, cost & safety

Usage, cost & safety

Events at the Washburn are entirely run by volunteers from Yorkshire clubs. 

Most releases are first and foremost for recreational playboating but the site also offers a great slalom site, catering for differing standards of competition (including Premier and Division 1/2 slaloms). The Washburn can also host Wild Water Racing races (Sprint and Classic, up to National Championship standard).

Management of the site and the calendar is undertaken by the Washburn Committee, a sub group of the Yorkshire Regional Development Team. 

To contact the Committee, contact [email protected] 


Everyone attending Washburn Cruises is required to be covered by 3rd Party Liability Insurance c/o British Canoeing. This can be achieved any of three ways:

  • As Individual Members of British Canoeing / Canoe Wales / the Scottish Canoe Association or the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland;
  • As Members of a British Canoeing Affiliated Club which is formally attending the event;
  • Through payment of a £5.00 Surcharge

Unless otherwise advised, the charges are then £10 (adults) / £6 (under 18s).

Event Safety

We want everyone to have a fun and safe day when the paddle or visit the Washburn. The Washburn is not suitable for novice paddlers and all users should ensure they are familiar with the risks asociated with the activity - see Event Safety Information.  

An important part of this and our work with Yorkshire Water is that all paddlers are required to sign in before paddling and sign out after paddling (if you are getting off the river at the Woodyard, please sign off before leaving the top car park with the approximate time you will be getting of the river).

Expand Location


For the exact location on Google Maps, please click here.


The River Washburn is located near Blubberhouses in Yorkshire, between Fewston and Thuscross Reservoir. 

Access to the main (top) car park is from the A59, along Hall Lane/West End Lane. The entrance is approximately 1mile along this lane, on the right hand side. Enter through double gates (Signposted ‘Yorkshire Water, Thuscross Car Park). Please drive carefully down this lane as it is used by walkers)

Parking, toilets and event control are all available from the top car park on event days. (note there is no mobile reception at the top car park) 

Access to the British Canoeing owned Woodyard site is from the A59, approximately 150m up Hardsty Hill on the left (through Wooden Gates).

Parking and toilets are available at the Woodyard on event days.

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Useful Downloads

Useful Downloads