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This directory provides an indication of the classification of waters in the United Kingdom in normal conditions. It's primarily aimed at assisting leaders and commissioners in assessing the type of conditions that might be met by members of the movement moving to a new area of the country for a camp or expedition.

Access to waters

The listing and classification of any stretch of water in this directory does not imply that members of The Scout Association may use the water without further permission. Many waters throughout the United Kingdom are subject to conditions relating to ownership, access, fishing, shooting and sailing rights. Members of The Scouts should always make careful enquiries before boating and ensuring that they do not alienate the goodwill towards the movement that exists in many areas.

Unclassified waters

POR Rule 9.13.3 states that 'All waters used for Scouting activities must be classified as C, B1, B2, B3 or A in accordance with this rule.' Where waters are not classified for any reason, or when carrying out water activities abroad, the leader responsible for the activity should assess and classify the waters in accordance with the guidance given in POR Rule 9.13.3.

Commissioners guide to classifying waters

The national directory of waters exists to provide a guide to our members as to what level waters have been classified as. The county are responsible for classifying the waters within their area and notifying HQ (via

Below are some questions which you should have answers to in order to check that your waters are appropriately classified.

This could be your water activity advisers, assessors or the ACC activities.
Where waters are not listed on the directory it is down to the permit holder or activity leader to define the waters in line with the definitions found in POR 9.13.3

It’s worth getting someone to check if your directory entry is correct and doesn’t miss out any waters which are used in your county. It’s also worth checking with the counties you boarder, especially if rivers flow through the two counties. Counties should avoid a statement of blanket classification, all waters must be classified in line with the definitions in POR 9.13.3. Some waters have previously been classified as training waters, this rule has now been removed and all waters must be operated in line with the management of water activities. There is a transition period, allowing members the time to get assessed for permits, this transition period runs until the end of 2015.

It’s worth putting a system in place for monitoring the waters in case of changes and developments, any changes to the classifications need to be notified to HQ.

This needs to be the CC or ACC Activities.

Dangers and hazards

While the classification of a stretch of water is a guide to its potential difficulty or danger, it remains the responsibility of the leader in charge of the activity to make careful enquiries about the specific hazards which may exist. This directory does not list specific hazards.

Sources of information

Local information can be invaluable, but leaders should make sure that their informants are knowledgeable about the type of boating that is proposed. In coastal waters, the largest scale Admiralty Chart of the area – up-to-date – should be consulted, together with a reliable pilot book, such as The Cruising Association Handbook or similar. British Canoeing publishes the Guide to the Waterways of the British Isles, which gives details of most inland and coastal waters from the canoeist's viewpoint.

Rules of the Association

Attention is drawn to the Rules of the Association concerning water activities, and in particular to POR Rule 9.9 and to the safety Rules for Joint Adventurous Activities. Guidance is available on the operation of Joint Activities with members of Girlguiding UK in Safety Rules for Joint Activities.

Life jackets and buoyancy aids

These must be worn in accordance with POR Rule 9.13.2 and Water Safety (incorporating life jackets and buoyancy aids).


The following abbreviations are used throughout the site:

  • HWM High Water Mark
  • ICF International Canoe Federation
  • LWM Low Water Mark
  • MR Map Reference
  • OS Ordnance Survey
  • OST Ordinary Spring Tides
  • RYA Royal Yachting Association

The Scout counties or areas concerned have provided the information contained in this directory. If an area of water is not listed in this directory, please contact the local Scout county or area for up-to-date advice.