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Raft Building in the Lake District on Coniston, Ullswater, Windermere and Derwentwater

Raft Building in the Lake District

Improvised raft building is one of the more popular outdoor activities in the Lake District involving planning, designing and building a water-worthy craft using poles, ropes and barrels followed by a raft race. The Lake District has many superb venues for raft building including Coniston, Ullswater, Derwentwater and Windermere.


As a leisure and social activity it's great for family activity events, hen events, stag parties and private get-togethers as it's fully inclusive and combines the technical challenge of constructing a raft from simple materials, poles, barrels and lashings, with the physical activity and excitement of paddling and racing, usually in competition with another raft team.


Raft building is also a great activity for groups of youngsters enabling them to explore how to design and assemble a raft from scratch. Our instructors will coach them through each stage, and will assist when strength is required. Typically they learn about how to make a floating raft stable, how to tie knots and lashings, how to allocate tasks according to capability, who to put where on the raft and a host of valuable team work and decision making experiences.


During typical raft building session we'll provide enough technical know-how such as how to tie knots, how to lash spars and barrels and how to create a stable raft then let each raft team design and build their own; some are triangular, some square, some with three barrels, some with four and, if there's a competition in the event, each team starts with the same equipment.


Resources for a team of four participants includes six wooden poles, four 210-litre plastic barrels, 20 lashings, and as much technical information as they can absorb. A raft building session can last from two to four depending in the complexity of the craft and the nature of the session. Our team building events often contain longer raft building sessions that include design and costing phases wherein the participant teams bid for equipment and submit designs for customer approval, extending and developing the value of the project considerably.


Once the rafts are constructed, they need to be tested so the faults are found and can be rectified before the racing begins. This is also an opportunity for the paddlers to figure out how to paddle their craft. Once all craft are ready, or in some events, once the construction time has run out, we race.


On some competitive events we allocate a fixed time to the design, construction and testing phase adding an element of pressure to perform ahead of the race phase.


The raft race can be a simple Le Mans start, there and back, first team on the shore wins, or a speed-and-manoeuvrability challenge course lasting up to 40 minutes, though these craft are desperately un-streamlined so take a lot of effort to paddle any significant distance.


Occasionally we run a raft building event wherein all participants build one huge raft, the largest are paddled by 30 or more paddlers and are quite remarkable feats of improv engineering. Such a project is a great team building activity and can be designed more for for leisure or for learning about how the team works together.


Guide Prices for Raft Building in the Lake District


The price of a raft building session in the Lake District depends on the number of participants, the number of rafts, the time and the purpose. For example;


A leisure session for 8 adults on a Saturday morning will cost £299.00

(£37.50 per person).


A team building activity event for 12 participants will cost £499.00 (less than £43 per person).


Lake District Raft Building Locations

In the Lake District we offer raft building sessions on Coniston, Ullswater, Windermere and Derwentwater and a number of other private locations.


This article is written by Simon McElroy (APIOL), June 2017.



For more information about raft building in the Lake District, contact Key Adventures on 07721 906030.



Raft Building on Derwentwater


Raft Building and Racing on Coniston