River Thames 85km Canoe Challenge

River Thames 85km Canoe Challenge

Winding through the Great British countryside from Gloucestershire to London is the mighty Thames and what better way to explore this amazing waterway than with our 3 day, 85km Canoe Challenge. In true Fitways style this popular Corporate Event is aimed at promoting teamwork, determination and a will to succeed and will take your team through some of the south’s most stunning scenery. With incredible riverside views of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire as well as wildlife such as heron, kingfishers, otters and swans to be seen this is sure to be an enjoyable and unforgettable team experience.
Whilst the rewards may be incredible you will have to work for them. This is a challenging paddle with distances between 25k and 30k per day but don’t let this put you off; canoeing is a graceful, peaceful and traditional pastime with its origins in hunting and journeying. It is low impact and focusses more on technique and efficiency rather than strength and power. As always the Fitways team will be with you every step (or paddle stroke) of the way to support and guide you from start to finish line.

Prior to your journey you will learn the basics of canoeing during a comprehensive training day where you will get to meet our qualified instructors whilst building your paddling and safety knowledge. Then for the main event you will be paddling in tandem canoes with our instructors canoeing alongside you as your team works together to reach your destination.

Fitways provide a first class experience during your challenge through carefully selected campsites with breakfast, lunch and refreshments all catered for. When you arrive at camp after your hard day’s paddle you will be greeted by our support team.  If you’ve taken the ‘supported challenge’ option, your luggage and a pre-pitched campsite will be waiting for you.

‘Provide the highest standard of service for our customers, minimise our impact on the environment and support local communities.’

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£395 (3 Day Challenge)
£115 (1 Day Training Course)
3 (Days on the water)
Daily paddling time:
7 to 10 hrs
Max team size:
30 (in Groups of 10)
02 – 04 Aug 2019

Experience required:

To join this challenge, you need a good level of fitness, a positive mental attitude and ideally some canoeing experience; easily gained by attending our 1-day canoe training course. You must also need to be able to swim.


Day 1 (29km): Northmoor Lock (Abingdon) – Iffley (Oxford)
Travelling downstream through the quieter, narrower end of the Upper Thames (also known as the Isis), passing 6 locks along the way. As if travelling back in time, life on the river moves slower here with narrow boats passing and hand powered locks to travel through. Reaching your first camp at Northwood you will be tired but satisfied that you are a 3rd of the way through your journey.

Day 2: (31km) Iffley (Oxford) – Wallingford (Villa Park Camp Site)
The second and longest day of your journey sees the river change from rural to urban as you pass through the historical city of Oxford. The river gets busier and the locks become deeper and more modernised. Fortunately you will be confident in your boats and paddling with ease as you pass through 6 more locks.
Luxury awaits as you reach the first class campsite at Bridge Villas in Wallingford to help you relax after your big day.

Day 3: (25km) Wallingford – Reading
The final stretch takes you through another 4 Locks with the river becoming more urban but still beautiful. Otters and Kingfishers are often seen on this stretch with lush riverside foliage lining the riverbanks in many places. Relax in the knowledge that your long journey is nearly over as you complete the last few kilometres of your journey to the finish line in Reading.


What’s Included?

  • Company Briefing
  • Canoes (2 members per Canoe)
  • Buoyancy Aids
  • Paddles
  • Instructors (high ratios in own boats) – Qualified in Emergency First Aid
  • Support vehicle throughout the challenge (with driver)
  • Safety equipment
  • Camping Equipment (Tents, stoves etc)
  • Camping Fees
  • Canoes being dropped off at start and collected at end of challenge
  • Breakfast & lunch (Expedition food)
  • River licence
  • Public Liability Insurance


  • Sleeping bag (You’ll need to bring)
  • Thermarest (You’ll need to bring)

Optional Extras:

  • Luggage transport and pre-pitched tents
  • BBQ
Travel & logistics

The Challenge will start at:

Northmoor lock
Badswell Ln
Abingdon OX13 5JN

NB. Please arrive for 8:00am ready to get on the water. Parking will be available, but people will be leaving cars at their own risk. We therefore strongly recommend being dropped off.

The Challenge will end at:

The Boat Yard
Scours Lane
RG30 6AY

NB: The estimated finish time is 4pm, although this may vary due to participants fitness levels and conditions (headwinds can impact timings significantly).


Your luggage should be divided into two parts:-

Storage Dry Bag

This will be used to carry all your belongings in the canoe. Items will include your tent, sleeping bag, wash kit and evening clothes. These can be transported between camps for an additional charge. Try to keep items as small and as light as possible.

Daytime Dry Bag

This will be used to carry all the items you’ll need during the day itself. This will include, packed lunch, spare clothing and equipment including phone, wallet and first aid kit.

Evening meals

We will go out for dinner in the evenings at local pubs. These will be booked in advance, so please contact us to discuss options. Evening meals are not included in the trip fees.

Electric Supply

There will be access to electricity at the camp sites to charge phones and electrical items. However, this will be limited.

Clothing to be taken on the Canoe

  • Old trainers or soft shoes
  • Socks
  • Quick dying trousers or leggings
  • Base Layer (T-shirt or long-sleeved top Sports top or fleece (not cotton)
  • Warm top (2nd fleece would be ideal)
  • Waterproofs (Jacket & Trousers)
  • Warm Hat (covering ears)
  • Reusable Water Bottle (1.5-2Litres)
  • Sunglasses
  • Complete change of warm clothes (just in case of heavy rain or you capsize)
  • Windproof jacket
  • Gloves (for blisters)
  • Camera (optional)
  • Mobile phone (in waterproof case)
  • Personal First Aid kit
  • Sunglasses & cream
  • Pillow/eye mask/earplugs
  • Dry bags (1 28L bag provided)
  • 2nd Change of clothes for evening
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Mattress
  • Favourite Snacks
  • Set of dry clothes for the evening
  • Head torch and 2 sets of spare batteries*
  • Swimming costume
  • Travel towel
Sleeping (These will be carried in the Canoes)
  • 2/3 Season Sleeping Bag (Comfort Rated 10C to 5C) Please store in dry bag*
  • Thermarest Mattress

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