Canoeing is one of the most accessible and sociable sports in the UK; with something for every age, ability and pace of life.
Options range from canoe touring, to discover the peace and tranquillity of Britain’s waterways, to white-water paddling for that pure adrenaline rush. Whatever you choose you will find that canoeing is a great way to stay fit and healthy.
Explore stunning coastlines, peaceful inland waterways or white-water rapids and learn the pleasure of being at one with the water and nature.
Where to start
The sheer diversity of the sport means that canoeing has something to suit the needs and interests of everyone, including specialist opportunities for those with disabilities.
Clubs & Centres are a great starting point to get into paddling. They are sociable and allow you to enjoy mastering the basic skills in a group environment. They cater for a whole range of ages and abilities. All equipment will be provided, there’ll be qualified coaches on hand and it will allow you to try out all sorts of different boats and disciplines. Clubs and Centres welcome new faces and many run special Starter Sessions aimed specifically at newcomers. A number of them will also offer skills courses allowing you to develop, learn and improve paddling techniques and basic safety considerations whilst out on the water.
However if you are the type of person that wants to just get stuck in on an adventure and use your canoeing experience to explore somewhere new we have a range of Guided Tours that are also suitable for beginners.
‘Canoeing’ is a generic word used in Britain to describe all the wonderful different ways you can enjoy the sport. You will find a whole range of canoeing activities you can try, from; open canoeing, kayaking to stand up paddleboarding. As you learn more about the sport you may want to start to understand some of the subtle differences. But at a basic level a key question often asked is, what’s the difference between canoeing and kayaking?
- Canoeing – If you are using a single blade paddle you are canoeing. When you get more advanced many forms of canoeing will require you to be positioned on your knees but to begin with most people will be seated in a traditional type of boat called an open canoe.
- Kayaking – In all forms of kayaking you use a double bladed paddle and will be in a seated position with your legs in front of you. This is the kayak.
Canoes and kayaks vary greatly in design, shape and size dependant on the type of canoeing, the type of water and the size of craft suitable for you. If you are new to the sport don’t worry about this detail, the best thing to do is go along to a local club or centre, or try one of our starter sessions and you’ll learn about the various styles of canoes and kayak out on your session.
What do you need?
If you are planning on visiting one of our clubs or centres all safety equipment, paddles and canoe/kayaks required will be provided. You don’t need to worry about buying specific equipment to get started but wearing appropriate clothing will ensure you have an enjoyable experience.
If you have some experience and are planning on heading out on your own please read our basic safety canoeing advice first.
Licences: Many waterways require you to have a licence to paddle on them. Full information can be found here. The good news is if you are taking part at a club or centre they will already have these in place. If you are planning to head out on your own then if you purchase British Canoeing membership this includes a licence that allows you to paddle on 4,500km of waterways!
- Warm, comfortable clothing such as tracksuit bottoms (ideally not jeans) and layered tops
- Water/windproof over layers
- Suitable footwear, a pair of old shoes which you don’t mind getting wet
- If it is sunny, don’t forget to wear sun cream and a hat as the reflection of the sun off the water can be strong
- Take a change of clothing along with a towel, snack or drink for after