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Membership and stand up paddle boarding on canals and rivers

If you’ve just started stand up paddle boarding the rules around where you can go and what you can do can be confusing.

So to tackle all your SUP questions, we’ve compiled a list of FAQ’s around stand up paddleboarding and British Canoeing membership to hopefully put your mind at ease and answer those burning questions.

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Stand up paddleboarding and membership

Does the British Canoeing membership cover Stand up paddle boards?

Yes. When you purchase an ‘on the water’ British Canoeing membership, you receive a waterways licence. This licence covers stand up paddleboards, as well as kayaks and canoes. You can paddle on almost all of the waterways covered by our licence, apart from Cromford Canal and Bridgewater Canal who do not allow stand up paddle boards on their section. 

Where can you take your stand up paddle board when you have membership?

With British Canoeing membership you can take your stand up paddleboard on all of the waterways listed here. There are a few exceptions though. These are the Cromford Canal (Derbyshire) and Bridgewater Canal (Manchester).

Can I insure my paddle board through membership?

Yes. When you take out ‘on the water’ membership, you have the option to purchase craft insurance. You can find out more about the craft insurance options here. 

What if I live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland?

British Canoeing membership is only applicable to those paddlers who live in England. If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you must join your home nation. Remember, Scotland have the Right to Roam which means you don’t need a licence to paddle in Scotland, but joining the home nation is still advisable for a whole host of other benefits. 

Where can I find places to go on my stand up paddle board?

You can either use the list here if you are looking to see if you can paddle on a certain section, or if you need some ideas, check out the Go Paddling Paddle Trails. Type in your location and find trails near you! 

The Paddle Trails are a great way to start your journey paddling on inland waterways as they provide you with all the information you need such as a map of the paddle, parking, pub stops, portage points, places to put in and take out and toilets along the route too. 

If you’re brand new to paddling, you might also want to build some skills before heading out on your own. The Paddle Awards are a great way to gain independence on the waterways! Take a look at what they entail and find a course near you. 

What does membership actually include?

The ‘on the water’ membership gives you a digital and physical membership card which is your licence to paddle on the waterways included in our membership. 

Membership also includes civil liability insurance when paddling on the waterways, and coaching insurance too if you are an England-based coach with a coaching qualification. 

Alongside all of that you will receive regular communications from British Canoeing about the latest events, news and information from the world of paddlesports, plus special offers and discounts from a range of leading retailers. The full list of member discounts can be found here. We’re continually developing this to give paddlers the best deals possible and have recently partnered up with SUP mag UK. Allowing our members to get up to 23% off the purchase of their magazine. 

Where does my membership money go?

Good question! Here are a few important things your membership money goes towards:

  1. Paying for the licences to various waterways. This money helps the waterways authorities keep the waterways in good condition for everyone to enjoy and is a great way of putting back in to the places you paddle 

  2. Combined liability insurance for yourself while paddling. With membership, you are insured for Combined Liability Insurance to a limit of £10 million in case of an incident resulting in damage to property or another person

  3. Enabling British Canoeing to keep developing paddlesports so more people have the opportunity to enjoy being on the water more often

  4. Supporting our campaigns, such as the Clear Access Clear Waters campaign which is campaigning for fair, shared and sustainable open access for all to our waterways

These are just a few key things your money goes towards, but a full breakdown of how membership money is used can be found in our annual report.