Paddle sports like canoeing and kayaking not only provide a fun way of exercising, but let you see the country as you’ve never seen it before.
Canoeing and kayaking is a great way to spend more time outdoors and have fun. We take a look at how you can get started with the popular paddle sports, and where the best spots to canoe are in the UK.
Canoeing and kayaking might have started as ancient means of transportation, but they are now widely seen as paddle sports, and have been popular leisure activities in the UK for over a hundred years.
In canoes, people sit or kneel while facing forwards in an open deck craft, and propel themselves along with a single-blade paddle. In kayaking, the paddler also faces forwards but often has their legs out in front of them, enclosed in the deck, while using a double-bladed paddle to move. When you rent canoes they normally take two people kneeling or sitting down together, with a paddle each to move, making it a social sport.
Canoes are often steadier and offer a calmer paddling experience than kayaking, so are perfect for beginners to the sport. Canoeing can burns lots of calories, helps keep your heart healthy, builds up your body strength and can make you feel more confident, so it’s a great activity to try.
Where to Canoe
There are lots of amazing waterways in the UK for people to try canoeing and kayaking. Canoes can be taken on any calm waters like the thousands of miles of canals, rivers and lakes in the UK, while kayaks go well on whitewater rapids and around the coast.
You don’t need any experience to try canoeing, as there are lots of schools and guides in the UK that help teach people how to take part in this popular activity.
Canoe England has a fantastic interactive map listing lots of places to paddle in England, with trails marked from very easy to challenging. These include trails along the River Thames, canal and river trails from Ripon to York, trails around the Lake District, and the Grand Western Canal through Devonshire. It also offers a search of canoe and kayak clubs offering courses around England, and offers advice for people wanting to take up the sport more seriously.
You can also see details of easy canoeing starter sessions in England and get more information on canoeing on the Go Canoeing website.
Scotland has lots of fantastic waters that suit canoes and kayaks. There are specific trails recommended for canoers, like the ‘Great Glen Canoe Trail’ along the Caledonian canal, the Glasgow to Edinburgh trail along the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals, or the Argyll coast for sea kayakers. The Scottish Canoe Association has information on where to paddle, waterway rights, and also offers courses and training for beginners and experienced paddlers alike.
Wales is home to some fantastic waters for canoeing and kayaking, like the River Wye, Llangollen and Montgomery canals, and Snowdonia’s lakes. Canoe Wales has information for whitewater kayaking and calm canoeing, including details of how to get starter with the sport, where to get instruction, and contacts for local canoe clubs. It also runs the National White Water Centre on the River Tryweryn in Snowdonia National Park.
Northern Ireland has lots of great places to canoe, like Lough Neagh, Strangford Lough, and along the River Blackwater Canoe Trail. The Canoe NI website has information on the best places to canoe in Wales, where you can try ‘Have a Go’ canoe taster sessions, and where you can take canoeing courses and guided canoe trips.
Have you ever tried canoeing?