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Rafting (traditional)


(Published January 2022, replacing January 2019)


This information refers to running traditional rafting activities for a group of young people, or to do it for themselves if they are a young person. 

What is traditional rafting?

The use of man made raft, often constructed through the use of barrels, poles and rope using pioneering techniques, to travel across water. The raft is usually powered by single bladed paddles, however other methods of propulsion, such as a sail, can also be used. Rafting Permits can also include Coracles (oval shaped craft).

What is a traditional rafting permit?

The adventurous activity permit scheme is designed to ensure that only people with the relevant skills and experience lead adventurous activities for young people. Therefore all activities classed as adventurous can only be lead by someone holding the appropriate permit. Additionally young people (under 18) can take part in adventurous activities for themselves with personal activity permits.

A traditional rafting permit is required for all traditional rafting taking place except in class C water. Definitions of water classifications can be found in POR.

Levels of permit

Traditional rafting permits can be issued for any class of water. Each class of permit can be further restricted (such as through venue etc) to end up with an individual permit to the level of the competence and requirements of any person.

Types of permit

There are three types of permit available for traditional rafting. These are:

Personal - Allows a young person (under 18) to take part in traditional rafting with others with a personal traditional rafting permit.

Leadership - Allows the permit holder to lead traditional rafting for a single group.

Supervisory - Allows the permit holder to remotely supervise more than one traditional rafting group.

Permit limitations

Personal - If you hold a personal traditional rafting permit you can go traditional rafting with others who hold a personal traditional rafting permit. It does not allow you to go traditional rafting with anyone not holding a traditional rafting permit.

Leadership - If you have a permit to lead traditional rafting activities then you can look after a maximum of three rafts at a time, subject to any restrictions on your permit, and need to remain on the water with these rafts at all times. A maximum number of 12 people can be led by the permit holder and detailed in the risk assessment considering environment, ability of individuals and weather.

Supervisory - If you hold a permit to supervise traditional rafting activities then you can supervise up to three groups. All supervised groups should be within communication range of the permit holder who will need to be in or have immediate access to a rescue craft. You remain responsible for all the groups you are supervising, but can designate someone with the appropriate skills to be the leader of each group.


When supervising other groups the holder of a traditional rafting supervisor permit needs to designate a leader for each group. This designation lasts only for the current activity while the permit holder is supervising.

People designated as group leaders should have the necessary skills and be responsible enough to control the boat safely in the waters that they are in. There is no problem with making young people group leaders if they are up to the role, and it can be used as a useful development tool.

Rules relating to rafting (traditional)

Rule 9.7 Adventurous Activities Permit Scheme

Rule 9.8 Adult Groups Undertaking Activities

Rule 9.13.1 All Water Activities

Rule 9.13.2 Life Jackets and Buoyancy Aids

Rule 9.13.3 Classification of Waters

Rule 9.13.4 Activities on Class C Waters

General activity rules

Rule 9.1 All Activities

Rule 9.6 Use of External Centres and Instructors