Water classification

Which water is safe for you to go boating on? Our water classification explains

Water is classified according to how difficult boating on it might be.

The local outdoor activities adviser classifies stretches of water that are safe and suitable for boating activities according to their degree of difficulty.


This classification is given to water such as ornamental or shallow lakes where rowing boats and pedalos can be hired.

Activities may take place on water that is unclassified without either the leader or participants holding a qualification, provided the conditions are safe on the day of the activity and there is adequate supervision. If instruction is given, the instructor must hold the relevant qualification (see each boating activity).

One adult in the group (not necessarily the activity leader) must:

  • know safe methods for rescue from water
  • know how to prevent and treat hypothermia
  • be able to perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

Inland water

Girlguiding classifies sheltered inland waters and slow-moving rivers as Inland 1. Rivers with frequent rapids or regular waves that would be described as an easy course are classified as ‘Inland 2’.

Tidal water

Girlguiding classifies sheltered tidal water as ‘Sea 1’. Sea up to one mile offshore (but excluding more dangerous waters inshore) and more sheltered parts of estuaries are classified as ‘Sea 2’.

For equivalent Scout Association classifications please see the buoyancy aids and life jackets table.