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Getting Started

Canoeing is one of the most accessible and sociable sports in the UK; with something for every age, ability and pace of life.

Expand Getting started

Getting started

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.

Paddlesport is also great for your health and even the most leisurely paddle will give you a good aerobic workout.

In this section you can access a variety of information to help you on your journey into the world of paddlesport.

Expand Where To Start

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.

There are hundreds of locations across England where you can pick up a paddle and get out on the water. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an experienced paddler and whether it’s canoeing or kayaking you’re interested in, we’ve got an activity to suit you.

Go Canoeing Starter Sessions have been running for a number of years and have  introduced thousands of people to the wonderful sports of canoeing and kayaking.

Starter Sessions are available across England. This means that for beginners wanting to try the sport for the first time, there is sure to be a Starter Session somewhere nearby. And for those after a little more adventure, another great way to try out canoeing or kayaking is on a Go Canoeing Guided Tour. Most of our Guided Tours are suitable for beginners.

Experienced paddlers can find new places to get on the water with our range of Canoe Trails. We have over 100 of these guides, for independent adventures available on our Canoe Near You feature.

This feature also allows you to search for local Clubs and Centres, which provide a great starting point to get into paddling. They are sociable and allow you to enjoy mastering 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 you can try out different boats and disciplines.

Clubs and Centres welcome new faces and many run special Starter Sessions. 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.

So wherever you are in the country, if you’re interested in learning to canoe or kayak or if you want to build on your experience, why not put your details into our Activity Search and see what we have on offer near you?


Expand Basics Explained

Basics Explained

‘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 or 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.

Expand What You Need

What You Need

If you are going on a Starter Session or Guided Tour all equipment will be provided for you. When you are ready to head out on independent adventures it is time to start thinking about what you need.

Like almost every other outdoor activity, there is some specialist equipment and clothing you’ll need. Some basic canoeing gear is essential – you won’t get very far without a paddle for example – while some will depend on the conditions and the type of canoeing you’ll be doing.

It’s worth considering that most local canoe clubs will have basic canoeing gear that you can borrow to get you started.

Essential items of basic canoeing gear are; a boat, a paddle and a buoyancy aid – often known as a personal flotation device. You can find out more in our Clothing and Equipment and Buying a Canoe or Kayak sections.

Get out on the water

Canoe near you

Canoe Near You

Find your local Club or Centre. Explore over 100 Canoe Trails. Discover an exciting Event or Activity. Book onto a Course.

Tell us what you want to do and we'll do the rest.

Go to Canoe Near You