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Maidenhead Risk Assessment

Maidenhead Route Description and Hazards

General Hazards 

Other craft on the water – The Thames is shared with other craft and can get pretty busy in warmer months. We need to keep ourselves safe. Please check behind you from time to time to make sure you are not going in danger of colliding with another river user.  If you see a boat or craft, please shout to other paddlers warning them of the danger and giving them a chance to move to the right-hand side of the river. If other river users are coming too close, draw attention to yourself by shouting and waving or blowing your safety whistle. Also move out of their way and if necessary, kneel if at risk of falling in. Large craft take priority.

Anglers – You may encounter fishing at various places on the banks along the Thames – usually on the left bank when paddling upstream so care should be taken particularly on the return leg. Paddle by cautiously, giving enough space around where anglers may be casting. Move to the centre of the river if safe to do so, checking behind you beforehand.

Swimmers- We occasionally see wild swimmers in the Thames, usually around the middle of the route. Please shout to draw their attention to you as you come up behind them. Please keep at least 2 metres away from them. 

Main Launch, Exit and Emergency Evacuation Point 

Boulters Lock

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The launch point is in the lock cut accessed via steps opposite Boulters Lock Carpark. Please take care crossing the road and use the zebra crossing looking out for both cars, cyclists and pedestrians using the footpath. There is a lower launch point (w3w/// verge.woke.farms – a little further along to your left which can be used by kayaks, novice paddlers and those with reduced mobility. Please ask a marshal for assistance if required.


The launch point is in a narrow lock cut that boats use to enter Boulters Lock. In Summertime, there can be a lot of traffic in both directions. It is imperative that you follow the advice of marshals on the day. If there is a lot of traffic, we may decide to launch in small groups and/or direct you to paddle along the towpath side of the cut towards the start. You are advised to paddle on your knees whilst in the lock cut and especially when launching and exiting the water.

If boats are moored in the cut you should look out for ropes that could pose a trip hazard and launch in a clear area.

Remember don’t rush and always take your time. “Slow is Pro” 

Paddling to the Start Point, be aware of other river users and stay well clear of Ray Mill Weir which is situated a safe distance behind the start.

Exit and Emergency Evacuation Points 

(These are evacuation points for emergencies)

Islet Road – w3w/// blunt.plank.outfit ( Situated c. 700m from the start. (exit upstream left at small pontoon with pathway leading to road for access)

The pontoon is small and the water around it can be very shallow, so paddlers should be seated when approaching.

Cliveden – ample.text.weeks ( Situated on the right-hand side just before the turning point.

The pontoon is private property and can be busy. The area belongs to The National Trust, is private land and should only be used in emergencies. The pontoon is used by a company running boat trips and hires so care must be taken with traffic.

Cookham Lock – tonic.gossip.detect ( The lock is situated just upstream of the turn point. The lock area can get busy and there are often moored boats. Exit the water on the left side of the lock.

The Start 

The start of the AquaPaddle is c.100m beyond the lock cut. Look out for the Time Lord standing on the bank to your left. The Captain will call the AquaPaddlers forward once everyone has arrived and will start the event. The AquaPaddle heads upstream first.

Your kit should have been checked in the carpark prior to starting and it is mandatory that you attend the safety briefing prior to launching.


Other river users and weir.

Be considerate to other AquaPaddlers. Please give everyone space to move about. The river is wide enough. As previously mentioned, it is important to stay upstream of the start area and not paddle downstream towards the weir.

The River and Riverbank.

Please pass any anglers that you may encounter quietly and slowly and give them space. If you get caught in any lines, stop and apologise. We share this space. Please don’t get into an argument. Once you are free of the line, continue. 

Boats could be behind and coming towards you. Keep a good look out and be prepared to stop.

Submerged Debris in the water such as trees, capsized boats, tree roots etc is common, please keep an eye out and warn nearby paddlers if you spot anything.

The river is shallow at both sides, be aware that your paddle or fin might touch the bottom easily in some areas if you are very close to the bank.

The river has a flow, and we paddle against it until the turn. You will be informed of the conditions of the water state at the safety briefing.

Be aware and respectful of swans and other wildlife, please give them space.

Overhanging trees. Please paddle a distance away from them.

Any new hazards will be detailed at the safety briefing.

The Upstream Turning Point 

The turning point is marked by a crew member. There will be a Member of the Crew on their board or kayak at that point. Please go round them. Drop to your knees if you are feeling unstable. Please look behind you before turning so that there are no collisions.


Other AquaPaddlers. Please give each other space to turn and cross the river. Other craft and boats. Stay at least 2 metres away.

Turning on the river.

Watch out for boats and other river users as you turn. They have right of way. Be prepared to stop. Do not risk crossing in front of any craft. Be particularly aware of traffic exiting Cookham Lock upstream of the turn point.

Falling off. If you should fall in, and you can’t re board quickly, please swim your board away from any hazards, before trying to mount again. A Crew Member will come and assist you. If you see someone fall in, without putting yourself in danger, please go and give help or alert a crew member. Please inform the Captain if you have fallen in and the reason for this.

The Finish 

The finish point is where you started and is marked by the Timelord on the bank. Please keep paddling until you have passed the Timelord. Once you finish, please keep clear of the finish line.

If you want to stay and cheer on the other AquaPaddlers, please gather along the riverbank or move slightly upstream and away from the Timelord and be prepared to move if asked. Please do not sit on any of the pontoons in the finish area. These are private property.

Make sure your number is visible to the time lord as you finish.

Other information

First Aid Kit is carried by Captains and the crew.