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Canoeing and Kayaking In UK

Read our guide for Canoeing and Kayaking In UK and Find and Book experiences, courses, activities and tours! Browse through the list of experiences, either instantly book onto your dates or enquire to book. All you have to do is turn up and enjoy! If you’ve got any questions about any specific experience, send a message and the providers will aim to get back to you as soon as possible. Have a specific experience in mind that we don’t have listed? No problem, drop us a message and we’ll send your quote around to hundreds of the best experience providers nationwide and come back with you the best quote, making it easy for you to make the most of your spare time!

Best routes for Canoeing and Kayaking in UK

With over 1500 rivers, 40,000 lakes and 2000 miles of canals, the UK has a huge range of choice of places to kayak and canoe - we’re spoilt for choice! We’ve outlined some of the best places for kayaking and canoeing in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to help you get started.

Best Canoeing and Kayaking in England

England has a vast network of canals, rivers, lakes and coastal land to explore. It’s easy to find kayaking and canoeing near you. Here are some of our favourite spots in England to explore for various reasons. Whether that be, remoteness and tranquility, or diverse landscapes, challenges or bucket list locations. Here’s our round-up:

Canoeing and Kayaking in London

Kayaking and Canoeing in London offers a really broad range of kayaking and canoeing. In amongst its rich history, iconic landmarks and surprising green spaces London has no shortage of memorable kayaking and canoeing tours and trips. There's a wealth of places to visit by canoe and kayak in London. Most iconic of all is of course the River Thames, and there are various trips you can take on here to explore London by water. Paddle alongside the Houses of Parliament in central London, or take a more relaxed approach and enjoy a more rural feel to the river with a paddle through Richmond and Kingston-upon-Thames. For those wanting calmer waters there are the docks to the east of the City, and also a surprising canal network north of the Thames to explore some lesser known areas of London, up through Hackney where you can stop off at pubs and restaurants for a break. For something extra special why not try a sunset paddle to Big Ben, or check out the Olympic White Water Centre in the Lea Valley for an adrenaline-fuelled experience. Explore more Canoeing and Kayaking in London
Canoeing and Kayaking In UK, England, London

Canoeing and Kayaking in Surrey, the River Wey

Just a stones throw from London, is Surrey, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With two main rivers in Surrey the River Mole and the River Wye, there’s a wealth of places to launch your canoe or kayak. Not to be confused with another epic place for canoeing and kayaking, the River Wye, The River Wey is a tributary of the Thames, and 20 miles of it is a man-made canal offering great canoeing and kayaking. You’ll need to learn how to handle locks and you’ll need to get a license from the National Trust who own the river but it’s well worth the explore. Evenmore so, with a few pub and cafe stops along the way. Explore more canoeing and kayaking in Surrey
Canoeing and Kayaking In UK, England, Surrey

Canoeing and Kayaking in Symonds Yat and the River Wye

The RIver Wye has been voted for as the public's most favourite river in a campaign run by ‘Our Rivers’ Campaign with thousands of voters. It’s the fifth longest river in the UK at 246km long (153 miles) so it’s also one of the most popular kayaking and canoeing destinations. Often people launch from areas all up the river with frequent locations being Canoeing and Kayaking in Symonds Yat, Ross-on-Wye, Glastonbury and Monmouth. Given the distance it covers, the landscapes can change quite drastically along the river too, from busy, bustling locations to the feeling of complete remoteness and tranquility. Explore more canoeing and kayaking in Symonds Yat
Canoeing and Kayaking In UK, England, Symonds Yat, River Wye

Canoeing and Kayaking in Peak District National Park

Being one of the most accessible, large green (and blue) spaces in England, there’s a wealth of waterways to explore in the Peak District. From gentle paddles on Carsington Water or the Peak Forest canal to an introduction to gentle white water on the River Derwent, whatever your preference and fitness there’s bound to be something perfect for you here, and plenty of hire and guiding available to help you on your way. Explore more Canoeing and Kayaking in Peak District

Canoeing and Kayaking in Cornwall

Cornwall offers unique paddling experiences, from rivers to estuaries and the sea, Cornwall has it all. The River Fal or the River Tamar are classics to explore, with a wealth of guided kayak tours or guided canoe tours for either half day or even multi-day trips. The Gannel Estuary offer peaceful conditions, like time has stopped, giving the ultimate relaxation experience. You’ll often see a wealth of wildlife including seal sightings. The Fowey Estuary can be busier, but allows you a wide variety of paddling including being able to explore secluded beaches and see the town of Fowey from a new perspective. Explore more Canoeing and Kayaking in Cornwall
Canoeing and Kayaking In UK, England, Lake District

Canoeing and Kayaking in Lake District

Covering an impressive 912 square miles and made up of 13 different valleys, it is the largest National Park in England, and with 16 lakes in all there are plenty of opportunities for canoeing and kayaking in the Lake District. One of the most stunning, yet still accessible lakes is the renowned Derwentwater at 4.6km in length, it gives a good few hours of exploring. Visit the local town of Keswick where you can find guided trips and tours or hire equipment. If you want to explore rivers, the common places to canoe or kayak are on the following: Brathay, Derwent, Eamont, Eden, Leven, Lune, Kent and Rothay. Be sure to check for licensing permissions for your canoe or kayaking if you’re taking your own. Explore more Canoeing and Kayaking in Lake District

Canoeing and Kayaking in Dorset, Old Harry Rocks and Poole harbour

For many enthusiasts, canoeing and kayaking in Dorset is a bucket list UK destination. Old Harry Rocks are three chalk formations that mark the most easterly point of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Jurassic Coast. Exploring this area by paddle offers the most incredible backdrop, many would assume could only be achieved by travelling across the world to more exotic countries. As well as exploring the stunning Jurassic Coast, formations like Durdle Door are a wonder to see. A must-do is kayaking through the middle of Durdle Door. Additionally, visiting Poole Harbour for a paddle is an excellent way to see the busy, vast port in a sheltered and relatively safe environment as a good portion of the water is waist height. There’s a wealth of wildlife to see and it’s easy to get involved with many kayak and canoe hire nearby. Explore more Canoeing and Kayaking in Dorset
Canoeing and Kayaking In Scotland, UK

Best Canoeing and Kayaking in Scotland

Scotland offers canoeing and kayaking like nowhere else in the UK. Offering some of the most remote destinations, stunning mountain ranges and vast wild green spaces. It’s hard to believe the Scottish Highlands are in the UK, as they offer a sense of being on the other side of the World, with incredibly mountain peaks, valleys, rivers and trails. Whilst there are a wealth of rivers to explore, there an estimated 31,460 Lochs which often provide a more sheltered environment for kayaking and canoeing - an excellent place to practice for beginners. There are 11 major Rivers in Scotland which offer a wealth of opportunities for kayaking and canoeing (with the necessary licenses):
  • River Tay - 193 km (120 miles)
  • River Spey - 172 km (107 miles)
  • River Clyde - 171 km (106 miles)
  • River Tweed - 156 km (97 miles)
  • River Dee - 137 km (85 miles)
  • River Don - 132 km (82 miles)
  • River Nith - 112 km (71 miles)
  • River Forth - 105 km (65 miles)
  • River Findhorn - 101 km (63 miles)
  • River Deveron - 98 km (61 miles)
  • River Annan - 79 km (49 miles)

Great Glen Canoe Coast to Coast Canoe in Scotland

Depending on how extreme you’re feeling you can either canoe/kayak for a couple of hours or take on the full challenge of paddling down the whole 100km of the spectacular Caledonian Canal. The route travels from Fort William to Inverness and comes across 29 locks, 4 aqueducts and 10 bridges. It’s a varied stretch of water travelling through calm and still canals all the way to rougher wide-open water sections such as Lock Locky, Loch Ness and Loch Oich. You can do this unsupported, if you have experience, plan sufficiently far ahead and have all the necessary equipment (including boats). Starting off in Fort William and travelling to Inverness is often the recommended route due to the normal prevailing winds. Completing the challenge over 4 days in open canoes is popular, although other routes and itineraries are available. Often with evenings broken up between camping, hostels and hotels, this is a great way to see a huge amount of Scotland. Explore more Kayaking and Canoeing in Scotland
Canoeing and Kayaking In Fort William, Scotland, UK

Canoeing and Kayaking the Cairngorms National Park

For beautiful views of the CairnGorms mountain range, white sand beaches and an abundance of wildlife, Loch Morlich is one of the best places to get out and kayak in Scotland. Canoes and Kayaks are available for hire and the lake can be relatively calm, yet with the stunning backdrop of the beautiful Cairngorms. Explore more Kayaking and Canoeing in Scotland

Canoeing and Kayaking Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond offers a great, tranquil place for beginners to practice their kayaking and canoeing skills. If you don’t have your own boat, there are several watersports centres to hire equipment or get instructor sessions or tours. Explore more Kayaking and Canoeing in Scotland
Canoeing and Kayaking In Wales, UK

Best Canoeing and Kayaking in Wales

Like England and Scotland, there are a wealth of places in Wales for Kayaking and Canoeing. Our favourite spots, just so happen to be in the three National Parks - Snowdonia National Park, Pembrokeshire and Brecon Beacons. Of course there are hundreds of lakes to explore and significant rivers. The River Wye (mentioned in above, also runs through Wales which is worth a paddle). The River Severn is the longest river at around 354km. The longest rivers worth exploring are:
  • River Severn - 354 Meters
  • River Wye - 217 Meters
  • River Teme - 130 Meters
  • River Dee - 113 Meters
  • River Towy - 121 Meters
  • River Teifi - 117 Meters
  • River Usk - 90 Meters
  • River Taff - 64 Meters

Canoeing and Kayaking in North Wales

Paddling under Wales’ biggest Mountain, Mount Snowdon, offers a relaxing way to see stunning views, stunning cliffs and old slate mines. You can rent kayaks in several lakes and rivers around Snowdon or in Snowdonia itself. For views of Mount Snowdon, you can rent kayaks nearby Llyn Gwynant (where Lara Croft and Tomb Raider II was filmed), or to see views of old slate mines and stunning cliffs Llyn Padarn is a good place to start. Explore more Kayaking and Canoeing in North Wales

Canoeing and Kayaking in South Wales

Pembrokeshire Offers amazing sea kayaking with a wealth of wildlife from puffins, seals and dolphins. When paddling quietly, you reach attenborough-levels of nature with huge swaths of birds flying overhead and diving to catch fish in the water. Pembrokeshire should be on your bucket list for canoeing and kayaking in Wales.
Brecon Beacons As well as offering a stunning mountain range for some of the best hiking in Wales, The Brecon Beacons has a wealth of waterways and lakes for all with options for Grade 1 (easy) up to Grade 6 (extremely hard) routes. The River Wye travels through the National Park, offering a range of kayaking and canoeing opportunities including white water for those looking for adrenaline-fuelled experiences. As a beginner, the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal are good places to start, as the water is calm and protected from wind. If you want to set yourself a serious challenge, then you can try paddling from Hay-on-Wye to Bristol via the River Wye which goes for almost 100miles. You will need to check when you are able to kayak each of the routes as there can be rules on when access is restricted, especially over summer when fishing is more common – best to check with Brecon Beacons National Park to be sure. Explore more Kayaking and Canoeing in South Wales
Canoeing and Kayaking In Northern Ireland, UK

Best Canoeing and Kayaking in Northern Ireland

As well as stunning coastal waters to explore, Northern Ireland has 7 major canal trails for canoeing and kayaking offering more sheltered paddling.
  • Lough Neagh Canoe Trail - 150km
  • Strangeford Lough Canoe Trail - 130km
  • South East Canoeing Trails - 70km
  • Lower Bank Canoe Trail - 50km
  • Lough Erne Canoeing Trail - 50km
  • Foyle Canoe Trail - 50km
  • River Blackwayer Canoeing Trail - 20km

Some must-see include paddling by the Giant’s Causeway which has 40,000 interlocking basalt columns due to an ancient volcanic fissure eruption.
Some of the best places for white-water kayaking in Northern Ireland include Glenarm River, Lower Bank, Upper Derg and Shimna River. For Sea Kayaking visit Bangor, Carlingford, or Newcastle for a wealth of wildlife and stunning views.
Kayak and Canoe Rivers In UK

Do I need a license for Canoeing and Kayaking in UK?

Before you decide to go paddling by yourself, or even as part of a club, you’ll need the necessary license for kayaking and canoeing on inland waterways. Thankfully, a membership of British Canoeing will give you the necessary permissions for most inland waterways in England and Wales. There are some waterways excluded which need additional licenses, or fees to paddle on. These include: a) The Royal Military Canal, between Seabrook Outfall and West Hythe Dam, b) The Grand Western Canal in Devon; c) The Essex Waterways of Chelmer & Blackwater and Avon, Bristol. Your British Canoeing License covers a whole boat, so if you have a two-seater canoe or kayak, this will be covered. If you want to take a friend in another boat, they’ll have to have a seperate license.

Where can I go canoeing or kayaking in UK?

Unfortunately there are all sorts of restrictions on where you can go canoeing or kayaking in Wales, as many bodies of water are owned by different organisations and there are more specific protections in place. It’s not quite as simple as just rocking up to your closest river and going for a paddle. There have been stories of authorities asking to see licenses and being able to fine those canoeing and kayaking without a license.
Canoeing and Kayak Lakes In UK
There are some places where licenses aren’t required, like paddling in the sea, estuaries or most tidal water (which can often travel quite far up many rivers). However, these are the areas that require skill and experience to go paddling. Nevertheless, estuary and sea kayaking can offer some of the most rewarding experiences with sightings of seals, a wealth of other animals and stunning coastal scenes.
Canals and inland rivers can be great places to kayak and canoe as waters can be easier to navigate and manage than tidal waters. However, for many inland rivers in the UK you’ll need to work out whether you are able to canoe or kayak there due to both private restrictions and licensing restrictions. In Wales, check out the Canoe Wales website for the rivers where you can canoe or kayak under their membership. If there are any questions, you’re best off sending them a message to see what license is required (if any) for your stretch of river. Restrictions also exist for where land is privately owned (e.g. beaches), where there are environmental protection schemes such as Nature reserves, where there are military bases or activity happening or where there are restrictions due to safety such as avoiding shipping lanes, waste disposal or dangerous wrecks.
How to get started Canoeing and Kayak Lakes In UK

Safety Advice for Canoeing and Kayaking in UK, Near Me

A license is just one small part of the puzzle when it comes to working out where and when to paddle. See our list below on things to consider before going canoeing or kayaking:
  • Weather, flow, tides and visibility: Attention should be paid to the flow of the river by checking the environment agency website and others. A significant flow on the river can be caused by excessive rain, often hundreds of miles away, that over a number of days, pour into the river can cause significant currents. Whilst its often hard to see ‘flow’ just by looking at the river the National River Flow Archive can provide specific information on the flow to enable you to decide if it’s worth the outing. Often, it’s much nicer to paddle in calmer waters, rather than battling a surging river and having greater risk around meanders, bridges and other boat vessels, so this is something to consider. Likewise, wind, tide, weather and visibility should be taken into consideration when planning your canoeing or kayaking trip. - Conditions within your level of capability Always err on the side of caution when going out in your canoe or kayak and make sure you’re comfortable with the conditions of the water
  • Tell your friends: Let people know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Ideally go with a group of people so if someone falls in, you’ll have others to help or raise the alarm - Get training: Book in a canoeing or kayaking instructor course or experience days on Beyonk
  • Practice falling in drills: In calmer waters and with instruction of an instructor, practice how to fall in and what to do when you do fall in, so you’re prepared on what to do
  • Consider wearing safety equipment such as buoyancy aids, which can be life-savers in many scenarios even if you’re a strong swimmer, the water temperature, flow or taking a knock to the head, can all present risks that will make your swimming skills useless and a buoyancy aid life-saving
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions of your paddle. Don’t risk getting soaking wet and cold in the rain if you’re going out for prolonged periods
  • Be aware of waterway restrictions, from boating lanes, military operations and more, to avoid any dangers - Make sure to get stacked up on nutrition and water to maintain energy levels if you’re going for over an hour's paddle.
  • Take a communication device, mobile or radio in case of emergency and call 999 if needed.

Canoe and Kayak Hire In UK Near Me

Canoe and Kayak Clubs, Hire and Lessons in UK near me

Search through our map of hundreds of canoe and kayak clubs, places to hire equipment or find lessons. If you’re looking for something specific, drop us a message and we’ll find it for you.

Canoeing and Kayaking for Families and Kids in UK

Canoeing and Kayaking are great family friendly sports. Canoes are more of the stable and spacious choice that allow for gentle and calm paddling experiences. Kayaking also offers the option for two-seaters that are a great way to bond with a friend or family member. Sea Kayaks and Touring Kayaks are incredibly stable, like Canoes, so it's more difficult to fall in or get wet. When it comes to the types of water to look out for, calmer water makes for a more enjoyable experience with kids. Look out for local lakes or canals for safer and more tranquil paddling. The beauty of canoeing and kayaking are that they are 'sit down' sports. The level of fitness required for both is relatively low, so most people can get involved with the sport.

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