Show search form

Be part of the nation’s fastest growing watersport and Go Paddling!

Participation in paddlesport continues to rise with more people than ever before taking to our waterways.

Paddlers Birmingham

British Canoeing has seen a dramatic growth in paddling activities and a 127% increase in membership, since 2020.

The Watersports Participation Survey, in 2021, also suggested that a whopping 7.6 million people, across the UK, said that they had either kayaked, used a canoe or a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP).

Part of the boom has followed the pandemic. When we were allowed out, we needed to be on, or near water, to feel happier. 

“During the lockdowns, more people than ever discovered the fun and enjoyment of paddling,” said Chris Earle, Director of Recreational Paddling at British Canoeing. 

“Since restrictions ceased, levels of participation continue to grow.

“Paddling brings health and wellbeing benefits, encouraging people to get closer to nature and spend time on the water with friends and family.

“It is one of the most accessible and sociable sports and recreation activities out there.”

Claire Adam

Claire Adam said Stand Up Paddleboarding is a relaxing activity.

Peacefulness and happiness

Claire Adam, from Nottinghamshire, is just one of the people who has embraced SUP in the past two years.

“I love being out on the water, the peacefulness, gliding along, being out in the fresh air… It just makes me feel happy,” she said.

“I love how relaxing it is to paddle gently along a river or canal, watching the world go by.”

Kat Kemp, a retiree from Leicester, said she loves paddling because it has no age barriers

“In our group we’re all in mid-fifties to mid-sixties and then we get some of our sons and daughters tagging along,” she said.

“Paddleboarding is a bit more of a level playing field across all ages and abilities.”

The positive impact on mental health has been a big driver for people being by the water, particularly during the last couple of years. 

Dr William Bird MBE, who has researched the impact of blue spaces on our lives, said just being on or near water can make a difference to our mental health.

He said spending time engaging in nature, particularly water, can make a lasting difference to our lives, lowering stress and increasing happiness.


Paddle safely

Safety out on the water is of paramount importance. 

“For those people thinking of trying paddleboarding I would say get a lesson. You don’t need to go out and buy a paddleboard straight away,” said Claire Adam.

“I bought my partner a lesson and that was invaluable to get him started, give him some confidence on the board and teach him self-rescue, how to get on and off the board without falling in.”

If you’re a newcomer or a novice paddler and want to improve your safety awareness, then the new Paddle Safer and SUP Safer awards are for you. 

They’ll help you develop a better understanding of how to be safe when taking to the water.

During this award, your instructor will work with you to develop your knowledge around equipment and environmental factors, as well as practical rescues, giving you confidence on the water.

More information about how to paddle safely is on the Go Paddling website.

Peak Forest Canal  Photographer Marcin Kumiega 1

(c)Marcin Kumiega


British Canoeing’s ‘On the Water’ membership is the gateway to the waterways. Giving paddlers instant access to a waterway licence, insurance, plus a range of great benefits and exclusive offers.

Having a waterway licence supports the maintenance and protection of the waterways, ensuring they are kept clean and safe.

Membership covers all types of paddling including kayaking, canoeing and SUP. All of this for only £45 a year, with reduced rates available for couples and families.

This makes it the cheapest and most comprehensive option available to paddlers for a waterway licence covering 4,500km (2796 miles) across England and Wales.

Full details about British Canoeing membership and the waterways licence can be found on our digital Members Hub.

Charlotte 01

(c)Charlotte Ditchburn

Watersports Survey

Results from the Watersports Participation Survey have shown a big growth in SUP, kayaking and canoeing, with 7.6 million adults across the UK taking part. An increase of 46% compared to 2020.

Boat ownership has also increased according to the survey, with canoe/kayak (1.8 million) and stand up paddleboards (1.6 million) the two most popular types of craft owned by UK households.

This growth in interest has also been illustrated through membership of British Canoeing.

  • Over the last two years, membership has grown from 40,000 in April 2020 to 90,800 in July 2022, an increase of 127%

  • The number of female members has increased from 27% in 2020 to 38% in 2022

  • 1 in 4 of British Canoeing members enjoy SUP.