Canoeing is a fun and rewarding pastime that offers the opportunity to stay active and enjoy the great outdoors.
This popular paddle sport was first created as a simple method of transportation along calm – and sometimes rough – waterways in North America.
Scottish explorer John Macgregor is credited with bringing the recreational sport to the UK, and in 1866 he started the Royal Canoe Club, which hosted the first-ever canoeing competition. Today, people around the world canoe for sport and recreation and value this popular outdoor activity as a way to stay active with friends and family and enjoy the wonders of nature.
Getting started with canoeing is very straightforward and with a little practice you can master the basics and feel confident on the water. Like any watersport, it’s important to consider your safety and always wear a life vest and learn from a trained expert.
One of the easiest ways to learn as a beginner is through a local canoe club. From there you’ll be able to take lessons and borrow the equipment you need rather than purchasing it yourself. Many clubs also offer introductory sessions to teach you the basics of safety, steering, navigation and boat care so you can make the most of your time on the water.
Websites like Go Canoeing are a one-stop shop for enthusiasts of all ages and abilities; here you can find information about starter sessions and guided tours, as well as search for trails and activities in your area. If you’re looking to get into canoeing a little more competitively or want to get involved in coaching and find out about upcoming races and events, the British Canoe Union has a wealth of information you can use to learn about the sport.
Popular Canoeing Spots
All over the UK there are lakes, rivers and streams that are ideal for a canoe trek, whether you’re just looking to paddle around for a couple of hours or want to take part in a more intensive trek that involves camping and covers a further distance. Off the coast of England, Scotland and Wales it’s also possible to go canoeing in the sea, though this brings with it its own challenges – waters are often rough and tides and swells can be strong, so make sure you’re experienced and with a group who can help you navigate this more challenging terrain before you head out into open water.
England – The British Canoe Union have set out a comprehensive list of 100 Paddles in England, and it’s the perfect place to start when you’re looking for inspiration about the best trails in the country. Here you’ll also find popular points of interest, directions and even the history of some of the country’s most established trails.
Scotland – In Scotland you can find picturesque and remote spots for canoeing without driving too far from the cities. Sites like Scottish Canoe Routes have a comprehensive list of some of the most popular trails for enthusiasts of all abilities.
Wales – Famous for its outdoor sports, Wales has no shortage of great spots to paddle through. If you’re looking for the best trails, schools and up to date information, Canoe Wales is a great online resource and can give you inspiration about trails as well as the information you need to paddle safely and with confidence.