Basic Health and Hygiene Guidelines:

  • Do not swallow river water.
  • Cover any cuts or sores with gloves or waterproof plasters.
  • Wash your hands before eating.

Personal safety on rivers:  

Permit holders are reminded that rivers can be dangerous places and, given the wide variation in the hazards that can be encountered, it is essential you take due care when attempting to use club waters.

It is therefore central to your personal safety that before starting to fish you assess:

  • The local terrain, inc the river bank and river bed composition / configuration
  • The water depth, height, velocity & turbidity,
  • The weather conditions
  • Overhead power lines and keep at least 30 metres away from them.

When assessing these issues you should consider whether your personal experience, your equipment and physical abilities are such that you can safely deal with them.

  • Every year many strong swimmers lose their lives in spate rivers. The force and the turbulent nature of the current make it difficult to scramble out, especially where the banks are high. Areas where the river flows over bedrock or through narrow gorges are particularly hazardous, and should be approached with great caution – preferably with suitable felt and/or studded footwear. On flat bedrock care is needed with studs alone, they offer little grip in such conditions.
  • If you should fall in, use your arms to protect your head. Roll onto your back and kick with your legs towards quiet water. Chest or thigh waders will not pull you under (as is often suggested); indeed, they tend to trap air and add to your natural buoyancy. However, they can increase the weight you have to drag up the bank; so crawl out and empty out as much water as possible before trying to stand.
  • Beware of undercut banks. Especially after rain they can fall in on you as you wade beneath them. More often they can collapse under you as you approach the edge of a high bank. Deep undercuts are especially likely on the outside of bends in the watercourse. Keep well back from the edge when passing these hazards.
  • If you can’t swim then don’t wade. If you must wade then a wading stick can improve your stability.
  • Look out for submerged tree roots or boulders which produce depressions upstream and alongside.
  • Beware of rapid rises in water level. It may be fine where you are fishing, but raining heavily in the hills. Your path to safety may quickly be cut off.
  • Never wade in coloured water where you cannot see the bottom.
  • Only wade in a pool at night if you have surveyed it by day. (Never assume that last year’s knowledge is still valid as rivers can change dramatically over a winter).
  • Carbon fishing rods conduct electricity, so keep at least 30 metres away from all overhead electricity lines.
  • It is also wise to put away your fishing rod whenever there is lightning about.
  • Keep a safe distance from other river or river bank users when casting, especially with fly fishing tackle. Let other anglers know if you intend passing behind them. Some anglers are hard of hearing, so having called out make sure you get a reply.
  • Use scissors, not your hands, to cut nylon. If your fly, spinner or bait gets snagged and you cannot work it free, break away safely. One way is to wrap the line around a sleeve of your coat to obtain a safe grip.
  • Protect your eyes with sun-glasses, especially in windy conditions. If your terminal tackle gets caught up in a tree, turn your back when pulling free, as a breaking line can spring back with great force.
  • Use a high factor sun cream to prevent sunburn.

Ticks and Lyme Disease. Ticks can be picked up by anyone using the countryside. They can carry a variety of infectious diseases, the most common being Lyme disease. A leaflet providing information on avoiding / dealing with tick bites can be found here… [link to PDF] and more details can be found on the NHS website at

Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease). Leptospira bacteria are often carried by rats and excreted in their urine thus contaminating water and muddy soil. The bacteria can enter the human body through cuts, grazes, mouth or mucous membranes such as those which line the nose and ears. Symptoms are similar to those of influenza – temperature, muscle aches and nausea. Most people with leptospirosis (fewer than 50 cases each year) don’t go on to develop the more serious Weil’s Disease. However, the earlier leptospirosis is treated the better, so consult your doctor if you feel ill after coming into contact with water anywhere near or in the river. More detail at

How you can help:

  • If you find a safety hazard such as a damaged foot-bridge, style, etc, please let someone from the Management Committee know about it.