“ Whitewater Rafting / Address: Bedford Road / Northampton / NN4 7AA / England „
The Nene White-water centre is a white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking facility, situated next to Northampton, and is home to both the Northampton Canoe & Kayak Club and the Northampton Rowing Club. I recently visited the centre to take part in a 2 hour white water rafting session as part of a friends birthday celebrations.
The facility is situated just off junction 15 of the M1, on the A428, so is easily accessible by car, but difficult to get there any other way. Once you arrive at the Centre you find it in a pleasant enough setting with a few leafy areas surrounding the mainly concrete water course.
The centre building is fairly basic consisting of the reception, a few changing facilities, the equipment shed and a few training rooms. The changing facilities were clean and hot showers were available to warm yourself up after your chosen activity.
I shall focus on the white water rafting element of the centre, as I did not partake in any canoeing or kayaking, however a lot of the points will of course be transferable.
The package my friends and I booked involved a 2 hour white water rafting session (although this does include around 30 minutes of safety instructions) and the cost was about £20 each. The cost of £20 each, is based on a group of at least 4 and 1 coach between you. Any numbers smaller than 4 does make the session more expensive, with prices ranging up to £40 for a 1 to 1, 2 hour session.
Upon arrival at the centre you are taking to a training room or outside in the sunshine (depending on weather) to go through some basic safety precautions. A lot of these are of course painfully obvious (no drinking, no glasses, no pregnant women, etc etc), but there are a few worthwhile pointers in there, and it certainly works as a confidence booster to any less able members of the group. The staff are very friendly are try to keep this little meeting as fun a possible, with a few jokes you can tell they've been using for as long as they've worked there.
You will need to bring a few things with you when heading to the centre, which include the following:
2) Thermals or a sweatshirt
3) A swimsuit - Speedo's are frowned upon ;-)
4) An old pair of trainers that you don't mind getting wet
After the safety meeting you will be provided with all the safety gear and equipment, and you can disappear off into the changing room and kit up. Be warned the swimsuits are a little tight and revealing. If you don't have any old trainers, there is a box of old (slightly ropey) trainers you can use (although personally I'd rather wet my own!)
Once you're kitted up, you are split into teams, assigned a raft and a coach and you're ready to hit the water. There is a small pond/lake area where the coach will take you through a few basic commands which he will shout at you later in order to try and maximise the "rapid effect" of the course. When the team has got the hang of tricky commands such as "left paddle forwards", "right paddle backwards", then its time to pick up the boat and carry it to the top of the course (don't worry this is a short walk and nowhere near as bad as it sounds)
And then finally, you're there, and ready to take a ride down the white water course. The first impression you get looking at it is...........well,.......... unfortunately it's disappointment, and this feeling never really leaves you.
The course is really quite short, and the rapid parts and really quite tame. This was my first ever experience white water rafting, and I understand from some of the others who have been White Water rafting in various eastern European destination, that this one is very tame. The course probaly took less than 5 minutes to get round, before you're dragging the boat back up to the top and starting again, which can get a bit repetitive. The largest drop is about 1 metre which is fun......the first time, however it does quickly become evident that this is as wild as its going to get.
I think its fair to say the course it geared towards children and the less adventurous adult, and anyone with any thrill-seeking desires will be quite disappointed with this. The coaches do there best to make the course as lively as possible, and you will be guaranteed to get tossed out the boat at some point. However, after all the build up, I couldn't help feeling a little let down by the whole experience. Was it worth £20, yes probably, if I lived nearby, but the 50 mile drive seemed a long way for what you got.
So, if you live nearby and want something to entertain the kids then this is a great little place, however if you're after some white knuckle rafting, then get yourself onto the Ryanair website and head to East Europe!