We'd never quite understood the phrase "so cold it takes your breath away" before we threw ourselves with semi-wild abandon into the rapids at Lee Valley White Water Centre. In February. Good golly was that water cold — all 13,000 litres per second of it rushing past our heads. And that was just the swimming test we had to do before we were allowed near the rapids in an actual, moving vessel.
We agreed to take on the white water rafting course at Lee Valley — the Olympic Standard Competition Course which was used for the Canoe Slalom during London 2012 — in advance of the centre reopening for its new season.
London's not known for its natural white water, so the course had to be constructed from 150,000 cubic metres of earth — enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall — which came from the construction work being done over at the Olympic Park.
Briefing and swim test done, and shivering slightly (though a combination of the wetsuit provided and the fast movement involved soon warmed us up), it was time to hit the rapids — via a funky little conveyor belt ramp. See the video above to find out how we did.
Tempted? Book your Lee Valley White Water Rafting session here. Canoeing, kayaking and other water-based activities are also available (and there's a cafe with outdoor seats looking right down onto the action). Lee Valley White Water Centre is in Waltham Cross, by junction 5 of the M25 — or 25 minutes out of Liverpool Street by National Rail.
So that's one activity ticked off of our list of extreme sports you can do in London. What do you reckon we should try next?