River and Touring Grading

Rivers in the UK are graded between 1 and 6 to indicate the level of difficulty. Grade 1 is the easiest to paddle and suitable for beginners. Grade 6 usually means the rapid is unrunnable. It is important to use your own judgement on whether the trip is suitable for you as well as advice from the River Leader and Coaches.
Please be aware that the river leader and coaches have the right to prevent you from joining the trip if they feel the trip would be unsuitable for you.

Grade 1

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

Grade 2

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

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.

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).

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.

Grade 6

All of the above carried to extremes. Grade 6 usually means unrunnable rapids that could be deadly if attempted.

Kirkcudbright Canoe Club Trip Grades

Please be aware trip grading can also change due to the weather conditions. What might be a Grade A trip in good weather may be a Grade B or C in windy conditions. On the day the trip leader or coaches may decide for safety reasons that the trip is not suitable for you due to weather conditions.

Grade A

Participants should be capable of paddling 20km (12miles) per day in force 2/3 conditions or on grade 1 -2 rivers.

Grade B

More challenging waters and may include tidal streams, exposed headlands, open crossings on lochs or between islands, or on grade 2(3) rivers.  Participants should be capable of paddling 25km (16miles) per day in up to force 4 conditions.

Grade C

Extended Grade B trips over a longer period for inland/sea touring *AND* rivers graded up to 4(5). Participants should be capable of paddling in more difficult conditions than grade B for a longer time.