Trips

BCC Difficulty Guide
River Grading Guide

River Grading Guide

Wording taken from UKRiversGuideBook (www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk)

GRADE 1

Moving water, unobstructed and without technical difficulties. There may be small waves and riffles to challenge the paddler.

Example of Grade 1: The section of the lower River Nevis which is shown here.

 

GRADE 2

Waves, small stoppers and other minor obstructions to avoid. Eddies and cushion waves may be strong.

Example of Grade 2: The River Washburn, shown here.

 

GRADE 3

Waves, stoppers and technical difficulties are more severe. There may be drops and powerful constrictions. The main distinguishing factor of Grade 3 water is that the paddler will have to follow a recognisable route to avoid obstacles and hazards.

Example of Grade 3: The River Tryweryn, pictured here.

 

GRADE 4

Severe waves, drops, stoppers and other obstructions. The route is not easily recognisable and will usually require careful inspection from the boat or bank.

Grade 4 encompasses a wide range of rivers, from those with pool-drop rapids to those with extended continuous rapids; so there is a huge variation in difficulty. It is common to distinguish easier grade 4 rapids by grading them as 4- and harder rapids as 4+ (or in some cases, 3/4 or 4/5).

Example of Grade 4: The River Erme in Devon, shown here.

 

GRADE 5

Extremely difficult rapids with precise and technically demanding routes to be followed. Stoppers, currents and waves will be powerful and inspection is essential.

Example of Grade 5: The River Moriston in Scotland, part of which is shown here.

 

GRADE 6

All of the above carried to extremes. Grade 6 usually means unrunnable rapids, which may just be possible in certain conditions.

Example of Grade 6: This warm-up rapid on the Abhainn Righ in Scotland probably conforms to most people's idea of 'unrunnable'. The paddler wound up in hospital...