Stop getting naked in British countryside, new Paddlers Code warns kayakers

Increasing numbers of visitors on UK waterways has resulted in new behavioural rules after locals voiced their concern of paddlers stripping off in public

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An official Paddlers' Code for England is set to advise canoeists, kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders to “change in a discreet and considerate way” to avoid being seen naked in public in the English countryside.

The guidance calls on those enjoying the UK's waterways to behave appropriately around local residents and asks people to be "respectful" when changing into kayaking gear outside.

Ben Seal, the head of access and environment at British Canoeing, said: “If you go paddling there’s not changing rooms everywhere, so people get changed in their car, behind their car, behind a bush. It’s about being respectful of local residents and anybody who passes by.”

Kayakers on the river boyne at Slane Castle in Slane, County Meath.
Kayakers on the river boyne at Slane Castle in Slane, County Meath.
Kayakers on the River Cam in Cambridge.
Kayakers on the River Cam in Cambridge.

The code seeks to "create a consistent set of words that can be used all over that can inform the paddling community about our behaviour, environmental protection and safety,” said Mr Seal.

The new rules come after councillors in Totnes, Devon, revealed in May 2021 they had received messages from concerned locals about the increasing number of kayakers and swimmers undressing publicly.

One local said she had “never seen so many naked people”.

Addressing a town meeting, Cllr Allegra Galvin said: “They get out of their cars and get changed into their wetsuits on the pavement. If you’re walking out of your front door, that’s not what you want to see.”

The summer could cause more paddlers to stip off according to another councillor who told the Herald Express Torbay: “It’s getting warmer, so I imagine there will be more naked bodies.”

The new guidance will also promote safety and instruct those taking to the water to wear a buoyancy aid and to notify the Environment Agency of any pollution in rivers and lakes.