For any Kayaker travelling its always the same problem, once you arrive, where do you go? who has the guide book? and usually someone has forgotten it or left it in the van, a local guide book is essential to any kayaker’s kit list. For family and friends a guide book is the perfect Christmas or birthday present.

Personally I love to use guide book’s and make sure I’ve a pencil to hand to add my own thoughts and comments and generally making my own updates. Rivers change without warning, but the guide book will still be full of lots of important information, including access and put in options which otherwise are difficult to find.

So here’s a selection of the best guide book’s that every kayaker should own (at least a few of)

English Whitewater Guide book

English Whitewater, British Canoe Union Guidebook, 2nd edition

English Whitewater, British Canoe Union Guidebook, 2nd editionPrice: £19.98

What they say

This second edition has been completely revised and updated. There are 340 river runs and playspots, with 90 new entries in this edition. It is a comprehensive guide to the whitewater rivers, playspots, and artificial whitewater courses of England.

The guide book is illustrated with photos and maps, and the new format makes it even easier to find the information you need. The guide book breaks down into five geographical areas: The South-West, The South and East, The North-East, The North-West and The West, with each of these areas being further divided into sections grouping rivers of the same locality. Generally these sections are based around the river basins of the larger rivers and work from upstream down; but we have made exceptions to this in an effort to ensure that the rivers appear in the book in the most useful order to the reader.

What I say

An essential guide book for any UK based paddler with the new format clean and concise its easy to navigate, the perfect book for the coffee table to plan your next weekend adventure or for front of the van driving around the dark moors before sunrise looking for the perfect levels. This Guide book is the bible for UK paddlers and can be found on many bedside tables dreaming of rain and releases. The English Whitewater guide book has always been part of my collection, the first guide book I ever owned and certainly set my mind running to the possibilities available. 

Scottish Whitewater Guide book

Scottish White Water: The SCA Guidebook (Scottish Canoe Association)

Scottish White Water: The SCA Guidebook (Scottish Canoe Association)Price: Out of stock

What they say

Welcome to the wonderful world of Scottish white water, and the 2nd edition of the white water guide book. One of the most notable achievements of the first edition is that it inspired many people to get out there, get off the beaten track and paddle something new. In an age where park and play is becoming ever more popular, it’s been great to see paddlers once again seeking out the wilderness experience that for me is such an important part of what makes paddling special.

Published in 2001, we had no idea that the 1st edition would sell out so quickly. So many thanks to everyone who bought a copy and helped raise money for the access fund, and also to everyone who wrote in with corrections, comments, suggestions and new descriptions for the 2nd edition. Once again, all proceeds from this guide book will go towards the SCA access fund, and if you bought direct from the SCA, even more of your money will go towards promoting and improving access in Scotland.

In this guide book edition

We have tried to give more information on all those tantalising runs just mentioned last time round. We have also included 2 completely new sections and a total of 42 new rivers. So why not push the boundaries, go somewhere new and discover what those less well-known runs have to offer.

For those who like the unknown, there’s still more out there waiting to be explored, so it’s not too late to make your mark and see your name in print next time around!

The 2nd edition has also given us a chance to update paddlers on the access legislation that came into force in Scotland in the autumn of 2004, to tell you more about the threat that our wonderful rivers face from new hydro-electric developments and to let you know about the Water Levels Website developed by the SCA to help paddlers find out which rivers are at a good level.

I hope you enjoy this guide book and that, like its predecessor, it will inspire you to try new things, go new places and come back full of the wonder of Scottish white water.

What I say

Scotland is arguably the most consistent area of the UK for rainfall and trips can be planned well in advance but the only way to plan is with a guide book in hand for reference! Ive arrived in Scotland on many occassions after a long drive sat in Fort William waiting for a sign from God where to go or what to do, When I awake from my daze I remember to pull out this Guide Book from the glove box for a more realistic approach, Scotland is a mini mecca for whitewater kayaking with some of the best runs hidden in the Highlands the guide book is essential it’s clear and informative giving a great representation of what Scotland has to offer.

Irish Whitewater Guide book

Irish Whitewater: Guide to Irish Whitewater Rivers and Surf

Irish Whitewater: Guide to Irish Whitewater Rivers and SurfPrice: Check on Amazon

What they say

This second edition is more than just a reprint of the original guide book!

This book has a further 18 new additional river descriptions as well as more photographs.

What I say

So as a country and paddling scene very close to my heart the Irish Whitewater Guide book is now a piece of history, due a major update but until then much content has moved online. As far as a guide book is written, Yes it’s dated, Yes its got black and white pictures but Yes it does have a permanent home in the glovebox of my van, Those days when your sitting in the middle of Kerry or Wicklow and the rain is hammering down, you reach for the book for some ideas of what else can be paddled instead of the usual runs, its a source of information that gets you thinking and excited showing a glimpse of what Ireland really has to offer. Would I be upset to receive this in my Christmas stocking….. Certainly not .

The Welsh Rivers Guide Book

The Welsh Rivers: The Complete Guidebook to Canoeing and Kayaking the Rivers of Wales

The Welsh Rivers: The Complete Guidebook to Canoeing and Kayaking the Rivers of WalesPrice: £19.99

What they say

This is the 2012 edition of the most comprehensive guide book to canoeing and kayaking the rivers of Wales. Nearly all the rivers of the principality are covered, mostly from navigable source to sea or confluence. From lazy gentle tours suitable for families, to raging torrents and waterfalls. There are over 180 rivers and two thousand kilometres of paddling.

The guide book is simple to navigate with quick reference information, detailed descriptions and area maps of the river catchments. There are a great many more colour photographs in this new edition compared with the old. There’s also an eclectic mix of anecdotes for a perspective on the paddling scene in Wales, past and present – but the best tales, yet to be told, are left for you to discover on the Welsh rivers.

This is completely revised and updated since reprints of the first edition in 2003 and 2006. It has not been available since 2008 and there is no competitor or comparable book since the first edition.

What I say

They are right in just about everything they have said, I have old copies of this and it has always been a bible for every away trip to Wales. For me North Wales especially has been some of my favourite paddling with so many classics. Rivers and drops made famous from early VHS the guide book was my portal into those old videos.

Nowadays I still love Welsh paddling and the pretty towns and villages you travel to. Wales is one of the most accessible regions with both Cardiff WWC and Tryweryn both excellent centres, and great places to start a trip. From here take the guide book and start exploring with so much whitewater and all within a relatively short drive. One of the newest guide book’s released,t looks great and really easy to plan your next adventure.

White Water Lake District / North West England Guide Book

Canoe & Kayak Guide to North West England: 2nd edition of White Water Lake District

Canoe & Kayak Guide to North West England: 2nd edition of White Water Lake DistrictPrice: £22.50

What they say

This is the second edition of the guide book ‘White Water Lake District’ which was first published in 2003 – the author Stuart Miller has completely revised and updated this new edition so that the information is as current and as accurate as possible. The new title better shows the wide coverage of the guide book.

The first edition soon built a reputation as being the ‘must-have guide book to paddling in North West England’. Described as being ‘comprehensive, well organised and very readable’ it achieved five star status in book reviews. The book covers some 110 rivers with 700km of river descriptions from the Scottish Border to Greater Manchester. It covers just about every river or stream that can be paddled – from gentle family trips on scenic friendly rivers to extreme white water gorges – all in one of the most beautiful and popular tourist regions of Great Britain.

A key feature of the guide book is the quality of the 150 detailed maps. The book also includes a full section of advice, summary tables, information sources, etc. This new edition has been re-designed to take advantage of full colour printing and there are now many more excellent new photographs that make for a guide book that is inspiring and a joy to read!

What I say

One of the lesser paddled regions with most paddlers heading North to Scotland or West to North Wales. This guide book has really opened up the region making it much more accessible for paddlers to find some of the best runs and most beautiful areas of the Lakes. For any UK based paddler this guide book is a opening to a region you  may not have explored, maybe even driven past but never stopped, This is your opportunity to visit somewhere new, yet so close to home.

White Water Southern Alps Guide Book

White Water South Alps: 65 Classic Runs for Kayaking & Rafting in France, Italy & Switzerland

White Water South Alps: 65 Classic Runs for Kayaking & Rafting in France, Italy & SwitzerlandPrice: £19.94

What they say

This is an inspiring, high quality, paddling guidebook aimed at the recreational tourist kayaker, canoeist or rafter who is considering a holiday trip to the European Alps. It contains 65 classic runs in France, Italy and Switzerland.
In the last 16 years this title has established itself as probably the most popular rivers guidebook in Europe.

This new edition has been freshly researched, re-designed in full colour, completely re-written and updated. It now includes a brand new paddling area, 9 new rivers, 30 new full colour maps, numerous cartoons and a huge number of stunning and inspiring photographs.
The South Alps are Europe’s top destination for white water sports and this new edition reflects this with contributions from local experts and top international river runners.

What I say

As  they say ”Probably the most popular rivers guidebook in Europe.” – True Fact

This guide book is a must for any paddler looking to make the next step and a trip to the Alps, This Guidebook covers Southern France, Italy and Switzerland. With so many classic runs just a flick through this guide book brings back so many happy memories and thoughts for the next trip.

The South alps region encompasses some of the best whitewater in Europe with the latest update easy to read and understand, a real resource for anyone looking to take a trip to the Alps. If you don’t own this guide book order it now or put it on your Christmas list you wont regret it!

White Water North Alps Guide Book

White Water North Alps

White Water North AlpsPrice: £15.95

What they say

Second edition of this popular guide book to kayaking in the North Alps. Only river guide book in English to cover this area and the only guide book to rafting in Europe. The guide book gives a description for the 60 or so classic river runs’ in the North Alps and detailed maps to accompany individual trip description

What I say

This is one of my favourite regions of Europe we run a number of trips to this region and still to this day the guidebook comes with me, its a little dated but as of October 2017 I used this guide to put on a new section I hadnt previously run, The North Alps takes in the highest volume run in Europe (River Inn) as well as Austria and the Oetz, home of Sickline World Championships. A Guidebook full of gems which otherwise might go unnoticed.

White Water Pyrenees Guide Book

White Water Pyrenees

White Water PyreneesPrice: £15.95

What they say

White Water Pyrenees contains information on 85 white water rivers in France and Spain. There are 1000 km of rivers descriptions, 30 full page river maps as well as a huge variety of run in class 2 to class 5 water.

What I say

The Pyrenees has it all from class 2 to class 5 bordering France and Spain the Pyrenees is an option for all levels of paddlers. With some super Freestyle spots the trip can be some great play too. This guide book picks out a number of the classic runs in the region with good information and easily accessible the Pyrenees is becoming an ever more popular destination.

Kayak Cevennes Guide Book

Kayak Cevennes

Kayak CevennesPrice: Check on Amazon

What they say

Kayak Cevennes is a guide book which plunges you into the heart of the Cevenole valleys and gorges. In addition to the ‘classic’ runs (haut Tarn, Dourbie, haute Ardeche, Fontauliere, Bourges, it also explores other rarely described and relatively unknown sections.

Kayak Cevennes containes 44 rivers – 60 sections from grade 3 to 6 and five playspots.

For each section Kayak Cevennes gives directions, length, time, remoteness, grade, commitment, gradient, paddling season, gauge, hazards, playboating potential, detailed description, alternative nearby rivers, emergency services and accommodation addresses.

Kayak Cevennes gives you put-in and take-out GPS waypoints and you’ll find river-running advice and whitewater safety information too.

What I say

This guide book is written in both English and French its the perfect partner when sourcing some of the French Classics. The Tarn is one of the best rivers in France and this is the guide book you need if you want to find it! This guide book also covers areas of the Ardeche, ever popular with summer Canoeists but once they go home and the river rises the region lays play to some of the best whitewater this side of the Alps. A well written guide book with some great imagery and information.

Whitewater Chile Guide Book

Whitewater Chile: A Paddler's Guide

Whitewater Chile: A Paddler’s GuidePrice: Check on Amazon

What they say

A blow-by-blow account of whitewater kayaking in Chile – detailed descriptions of more than 60 rivers all recently paddled by the author’s, GPS co-ordinates and careful directions to the put-in and take-out points, details on camping and staying in the area, plus details on lodges and restaurants and valuable information on travelling in Chile; for anyone planning a trip, this is a must-have guidebook.

What I say

One of the best written guidebooks on the market, its bright, colourful with loads of really useful information. unfortunately I have never visited Chile (Yet) but this book on your coffee table and you will be planning ahead to make the trip!

White Water Nepal Guide book

White Water Nepal

White Water NepalPrice: £22.95

What they say

White Water Nepal is probably the most iconic and famous rivers guidebook in the world of international kayaking and rafting, and it is the book that you will find on every international river runner’s bookshelf or wish list. This new and thoroughly updated third edition opens the doors to the exhilarating joys of Himalayan river running. Nepal has become one of the world’s top destinations for white water kayaking and rafting, and this new edition reflects this with updates from many Nepali top river runners and also contributions from celebrity international river runners.

The new edition has detailed and updated descriptions of all the major rivers of Nepal and over 2300km of paddling. There are over 100 maps, hydrographs, river profiles, photos and drawings by some of Nepal’s best artists. There is extensive travel and logistics advice and the medical sections have been widely acclaimed by Expedition Doctors.

What I say

Two of the greatest minds of Nepalese Paddling from raft runs to multi day expeditions if you want to plan a trip to Napal thsis is your definative guide book. It contains some of the best information to assist with logistics, and cover medical information when travelling to the region. For any paddler Nepal is a destination on the bucket list and this guide book should be on the book shelf along with the passport ready to go.

So there it is, my selection of the best Guide books to buy. So if you feel I have missed any classics let me know, but with these guide books in your library they will keep you dreaming and planning for years to come.

If you enjoyed reading this please take a look at some more of my adventures on my Adventures Blog Page