Paddling from Sandy Lane, Chester
Sandy Lane is at the Southern end of Chester city centre and is ideally situated on the banks of the River Dee. It has specially built boat ramps to allow for launching and landing of bigger craft, (which also means this spot is disability friendly!) and offers great paddling in both directions along the river. The river here is usually calm, but can be affected by strong currents, high winds and overcrowding on certain days and paddlers should exercise caution when deciding whether to go out on the water.
As you look at the river, if you follow the flow to the right, it will take you down stream towards Chester city centre. This paddle gives you a chance to see the beautiful and varied architecture along the river, eventually leading to the old city walls and docks. You will pass under a grey suspension bridge and be able to see the stone bridge and three yellow marker buoys in the distance, this is signifying that you are approaching the Chester Weir. This is a great point to turn yourself around and head back to your start point. This paddle will usually take between 30 and 45 minutes each way.
If instead you go against the flow upstream from the car park, it takes you up river towards Eccleston. Shortly after leaving the launch the river bends towards the right and opens out to be wonderfully tree lined on both banks and could be mistaken for a much wilder land than just outside Chester. The river meanders its way through the countryside, eventually passing under the A55 and then carrying on for as far as you like. This paddle could realistically be as short or long as you like, just remember the car park is only 4 hours free.
Hazards/What to look out for:
Other River Users- LOTS. Rowers and powered city tour boats are regular occurances but you'll see all manner of other river users. Where possible, pass them on the right, but if in doubt sheltering at your nearest river bank will do fine.
Water Quality- This section has variable water quality. Click the link to see our page on water quality advice.
Tides and Flow- This river is affected by both tides and natural river flow and can be subject to strong currents. In winter there is regularly a flow and in this case users should be sure they're suitably experienced to keep themselves safe. This includes knowledge of tides and paddler rescue skills. The weir acts as a tidal barrier most of the time, but a very high spring tide (a few times a month) will come over the weir and reverse the flow of the river. As the tide then turns again, it increases the speed of the river quite significantly towards the city centre.
Wind - High winds can make paddling very difficult, especially in inflatable water craft.
Chester Weir - This is a man-made weir with a drop-off of around 3 metres. When the river is flowing due to high river levels, real care should be taken to avoid this hazard as very dangerous stopper hydraulics can be created. The weir is a white water feature and approaching by boat should only be attempted by, or under the guidance of, those with knowledge and experience of white water paddling. Visit our separate Chester Weir guide for more information about white water paddling at Chester Weir.
Wildlife - Paddlers are likely to encounter wildlife, especially birds. Paddlers should give wildlife a wide berth. You can appreciate its beauty whilst respecting its space.
Where to park
Sandy lane car park, Sandy lane, Chester, CH3 5UL
The car park here is of a reasonable size and free for up to 4 hours.
With smooth access ramps down to the water and a disabled toilet, this is the best spot to go for any paddler with mobility issues. The main public toilet facility is open during daytime hours from April to October. Those who arrive and find these closed will be reassured to know the public toilet at The Groves is almost always open. You'll reach this by paddling into Chester and then hopping out shortly after passing beneath the Queens Park Bridge. At the Groves you'll also find restaurants, cafe's and other attractions.
Minimum equipment needed in calm conditions
Your chosen craft (kayak, canoe or SUP) and paddle
Clothing appropriate for the conditions- dress as if you're going to fall in!
Personal flotation device (buoyancy aid)
Mobile phone (easily accessible and waterproofed)
A friend (Paddling independently should only be done if you are very experienced and competent.)
Local Knowledge about Sandy Lane
In summer, this car park can get rather busy, so worth while getting there early. If you are not in a bay, they are likely to give you a ticket. In summer there is usually a ice cream van here but there are convenience stores about 10 minute walk away. The river can be reasonably busy on a warm day, make sure to keep a watch out for other river users and avoid collisions.
Dee River Kayaking Paddle Guides Safety Notice
These pages are designed to offer a comprehensive guide to places to paddle, local hints and tips and how to help keep yourselves safe whilst enjoying our beautiful river.
It's essential that all paddlers acquire the knowledge, skills and equipment necessary to paddle safely. These guides are designed to be helpful to paddlers but can not be used as a replacement to these fundamental requirements.
To find out more information about safe paddling, consider any or all of these options:
Visit the Go Paddling Website for helpful articles on Paddling Safely.
Book a bespoke private lesson with one our instructors to get you started.
Find your local paddling club to access social trips and peer mentoring.