When it comes to ‘doing stuff’ in London, I like to think that I’ll try most things once. Does it mean I’m fearless? Definitely not, I’m no daredevil and I doubt you’d ever find me climbing up the Shard or risking my life for anything anytime soon. Does it mean I’m adventurous? I’m not sure but I like to think that I’ve got a little adventurous streak and I’m determined to do and see as much as I can. As the title unimaginatively suggests, this leads me to my latest adventure with James, white water rafting at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.
You might recognise it as one of the stadiums used for the London 2012 Olympics (in fact there’s a picture of it in this post from 2012!). It’s now home to a whole host of water activities including scuba diving, hydrospeeding, canoeing and of course white water rafting.
I bought James a voucher for the white water activity for his birthday last year and we finally got round to booking a slot on a sunny autumn Sunday a few weeks ago.
We hopped on a train from Tottenham Hale to Waltham Cross and after a 10 minute walk from the station we arrived at the centre. It looked pretty calm and peaceful as we approached.
But once we’d checked in and made our way to the terrace, we found the part where all the action is going on and it’s a whole different atmosphere.
I didn’t feel too nervous at this point as from my experience of the white water rafting we did in Montenegro, it wasn’t all that terrifying. The course isn’t too long either so I thought, what’s the worst that can happen?!
The whole area is open to the public so you can stroll around and see what you think before you book it. Here’s a video I took before I jumped in to give you a bit of an idea.
Watching it now makes me realise that it looks super fast but at the time and before we got in it really didn’t.
Once we were suited, booted and had our helmet and life vest on, we got a safety talk and an overview of the experience. To make sure we weren’t a liability on the water and were happy that we might enjoy the rest of it, they made us do a swim test down one of the rapids. All we had to do was jump in, make sure we were lying on our back and feet were facing forward, go down a rapid, swim through the current and get out on the side.
The water looks much more rapid up close! James did it like a pro.
I, on the other hand, didn’t and the picture they took of me is shocking. However, I did survive and I passed the test. If you don’t look so comfortable at this stage but you want to carry on they might swap your helmet for a yellow one so they can watch out for you during the experience.
After getting wet and ready for the rapids, it was time to jump into the raft. The next stage was to test that if we fell out of the raft, we could climb back in again and help someone else do the same. I think I passed this one much more easily. The adrenaline had started pumping and I was partly excited and partly scared.
The first round was a fairly gentle trip around the course where the instructor tested our reaction speed to directions (particularly knowing my left and right which whilst I know the correct answer I’m strangely rubbish at on the spot).
Each route got more and more
exciting, adrenaline pumping, scary shall we say. Despite being a little terrified at flying out into the water and picturing some kind of embarrassing rescue (my face below says it all) it was a lot of fun.
This was when we tried to surf the rapids without toppling in. James particularly loves this picture, so as it was a birthday treat I let him have it when we chose five photos to take away with us.
I chose this one because I think it’ll look much better in a photo frame!
After about five or six trips around the rapids (I lost count after a while but we were in the water for a good hour and a half), and on an adrenaline high, we showered, got dry and dressed. We decided to head up to the cafe terrace for a hot drink and sugar rush. I wasn’t expecting much as I sort of pictured those cafes you find at the local swimming pool, but I was pleasantly surprised.
It was a lovely place to bask in the glorious sunshine.
I guess one of the perks of hosting the prestigious Olympic games is the nice places that are built and left behind!
If you’re looking for something more substantial you’ll find hot food (burgers and chips I think) on the terrace, where there’s a bar serving alcohol too.
Overall, it was a really great experience. I’d definitely go back and do it again, especially in a group. If you have a little adventurous streak like me and you’re a comfortable swimmer I reckon you’d have loads of fun too. It’s a great gift to give someone as well.
You can find all the details on the website here. It’s open all week and up to 9pm on a Friday night. We did it on a Sunday as it was considered off-peak and a bit cheaper (£50 pp vs £65 pp). The closest station is Waltham Cross which is about 40 minutes from Liverpool Street Station or about 15 minutes from Tottenham Hale (near the end of the Victoria Line). Bring a swimming costume, towel and stuff for a shower, basically anything you would usually take to a swimming pool.
Credit for the four professional photos goes to Lee Valley. We paid £25 for five digital photos. It was £60 for the whole set, which I thought wasn’t too bad if you were in a large group and could share the cost.
What do you think? Would you do white water rafting in London?