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Where can I paddle?

So you want to know where to paddle?! Excellent! You have come to the right place. Allow us to set you on the right path to your perfect piece of water.

A little like cycling, there are many different terrains you can paddle on. From the calm waters of a canal, to the rolling waves of the sea or the rush of white water; there is plenty of choice for you.

Perhaps you have never been on the water before or want to brush up on rusty skills from many years ago? Maybe you have even been a keen bean and bought a boat already? We know you will be chomping at the bit to get going, so here’s how.

Grasp The Basics

There are thousands of kilometers of waterways just waiting to be explored by you. But first it’s important to know some basics to keep you safe.

The best place to learn these is at a local club or centre. They can provide you with all the equipment and instruction needed to get you going.

Paddling through a club or centre also means you will be covered by their insurance and waterways licence. Once you start going out on your own however, you will need to get your own cover. You can do this by becoming a member of British Canoeing. Membership brings you lots of benefits.

Which Water, Which Rules?

Before you grab your paddle and jump in that boat it’s best to check where you are allowed to paddle.

Many of England's managed inland waterways are ideal for canoeing. But what some people don’t realise is that on most rivers and canals you actually need a licence to do so. Some waterways have a public right of navigation (PRN) but do require you to pay a licence or harbour dues. There are others which do not have a PRN at all.

British Canoeing has teamed up with navigation authorities who manage the waterways to offer British Canoeing members a great rate for a waterway licence in England. Included with your British Canoeing membership is a licence to paddle over 4,500km of rivers and canals.

Confused?! Don’t worry, you can find more details of the waterways requiring a licence, along with those included in British Canoeing membership on our Access & Environment pages.