2012 was a great year for British sport. It was, of course, the year of the London Olympics, when Team GB picked up an astounding 65 medals and inspired many people to get active and take up a new sport. Another lasting legacy is the Lee Valley White Water Centre, built to host the canoe slalom for the games way ahead of schedule in 2010.
It is an incredible venue right beside the Lee Navigation, between the towns of Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire and Waltham Abbey in Essex. It boasts a lake for paddle boarding and canoeing as well as its famous white water slalom.
One activity that is proving to be particularly popular at the centre is hydrospeeding. Essentially you surf your way down the rapids clutching on to a hydrospeed board, also known as a white-water sledge. Those taking part are kitted out with a wetsuit, buoyancy aid and helmet, and taught how to steer the board on the rapids, as well as a host of other skills, such as duck-diving, rolling and spinning.
Other sports on the white-water slalom include kayaking, tubing and rafting but if that all sounds a bit too hair-raising, there are more sedate activities to try on the lake, such as open water swimming. You’ll need to be assessed for fitness first, but once you’re given the all clear you can take part in the swim sessions every Monday (6.30pm and 7.30pm) to train for marathon swims and triathlons, or simply to develop your swimming skills at your own pace.
Once you’ve dried off, there’s a smart terrace bar and café where you can observe the white water action. If you fancy a more relaxing day out, the Lee Valley Country Park has countless trails to explore by bike and on foot.