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Give paddling a go on these kayaking and canoeing courses! Bobbing around in a canoe or a kayak can be as high-adrenaline or relaxing as you like. The UK has some wonderful lakes, rivers and inland waterways that are just aching to be explored in a canoe or a kayak and we’ve got some of the best in this selection. Kayaking and Canoeing FAQs...
• Learn kayaking on the canal/River Dee in Wales • Essential kayaking skills are taught on flat water • Second session paddling out on the moving waters • Spectators can watch from the river/canal bank
• Kayaking in the heart of Leamington Spa in Warks • Choose between a 2hr taster or full day session • Centre is British Canoe Association Quality Marked • A great location for families on the River Leam
• Kayaking sessions on the River Wye in South Wales • No capsize drill to perform - unless you want to! • Location on edge of Brecon Beacons National Park • Suitable for those with little or no experience
• Outdoor adventure activity days near Edinburgh • Canyoning, coasteering, climbing & canoeing offered • Pick your activity when you book, not when you buy • Stunning Scottish scenery for these activities
• Kayak or canoe outing on the Thames from Richmond • Head upstream to Eel Pie Island in Twickenham • Tour lasts around two and a half hours - ideal for beginners • Sessions led by qualified canoe instructor & guide
• Watersports activities at Roker Beach in Sunderland • Take your pick from the activities offered on the day • Surfing, canoeing, bell boats, SUP, pier jumps & more • No need to swim - just confidence in water needed
Canoeing and kayaking are both great ways to get into paddle sports. Whether you want to learn to paddle like a pro, or fancy a more laid-back affair that involves coursing along gentle waters on more of a sightseeing trail, canoeing or kayaking is for you!
Who it's not for
If you really don’t like water or just can’t see yourself using a paddle, these experiences might not be for you. But don’t let lack of experience put you off, these canoe and kayak sessions are specifically aimed a beginners.
What’s the difference between a canoe and a kayak?
In a canoe you sit down or kneel to paddle. That’s to say your legs are bent at the knees as you either perch on a bench or a raised seat, or you’re actually kneeling in the canoe. In most cases, the deck of a canoe is open and you use a paddle with one blade. In contrast, kayakers have their legs fully extended inside the closed deck of the kayak and the paddle has two blades.
How do you use a canoe paddle?
To use a one-bladed canoe paddle you put one hand on the top of the handle and the other lower down the handle towards the blade end. You then reach forward with the shoulder and plunge the paddle vertically into the water, before pulling back for the stroke. When the immersed paddle blade reaches the level of your hips, you start to bring the blade out of the water, ready for the next stroke, which could be on the same side or the other side of the canoe.
How do you paddle a kayak?
Kayaks differ from canoes in that the paddle has a blade at each end, as opposed to just one blade on a canoe paddle. For kayaking, both hands, slightly wider than shoulder width apart, go on the handle (or shaft) of the paddle. To paddle a kayak you place one of the blades in the water at about the same level as your feet (remember legs are stretched out in a kayak), moving it back as vertically as you can through the water. As soon as you’re level with your stomach, you bring the paddle out of the water and repeat the process for the blade in your other hand. The key here is a smooth rhythm.
Do I need to know how to swim?
For beginner kayaking and canoeing lessons you generally don’t need to know how to swim, but you will need to be confident in flowing water.
Can I go kayaking or canoeing when pregnant?
This very much depends on the policy of each watersports centre. Some may advise against complete beginners trying kayaking or canoeing for the first time when they are or might be pregnant. If you’ve already done paddlesports and are out on calm waters you may be able to paddle. If in any doubt, just get in touch with us.
What should I wear?
For kayaking and canoeing taster sessions all the gear will be provided for you. Some centres may charge for wetsuit and/or wetsuit boot hire. You should arrive with swimwear and towel and casual/sports clothes and a pair of trainers you don’t mind getting wet.
Will we still go out on the water if it’s raining?
A bit of drizzle or rain certainly won’t stop play when it comes to kayaking and canoe trips. The experience will only be cancelled or postponed if the weather is considered too dangerous to paddle out (i.e storms, high winds etc).
Will I have to do a capsize drill?
No. You’ll be shown what the capsize drill involves, but you won’t have to practice rolling in your canoe or kayak - unless you want to!
Are canoe and kayak instructors qualified?
Yes. All instructors are British Canoe awarding body qualified, which means they have reached a certain level in their training competence and ability.
Will I be kayaking on rapids?
Maybe! Where you’ll be paddling depends on the location you’ve chosen. Some rivers are well-known for their fast flowing sections of water. But again, the section of river you paddle on will be selected according to your ability and what you hope to achieve from the course.
Do these canoe sessions take place on rivers?
Yes, they can take place on rivers, canals, in-land lakes, purpose-built courses and even out on the sea.
Can I go kayaking at a man-made watersports centre?
Yes. If there’s a man-made water sports centre near you, the chances are they will offer canoe and kayaking sessions. We have some excellent purpose-built watersport centres in the UK such as Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre in Nottingham and Lee Valley White Water Centre at Waltham Cross that hosted the 2012 Olympic canoe slalom events, to name just two bespoke watersports centres.
Where’s the most difficult canoeing and kayaking in the UK?
At certain times of the year, the rivers in the mountainous areas of Scotland and Wales can offer up some thrilling white waters to canoe or kayak down. Of course, sections to paddle down will be chosen according to ability, but paddlers can find pretty challenging conditions on the likes of the River Dee in Llangollen and River Wye in the Brecon Beacons, for example.
Can children join in these paddle experiences?
Each individual operator will have their own rules and regulations about the age limits for kayaking and canoeing with them. Some may require an adult to paddle out at the same time as the child. Please read the full details sections of the location you’re interested in for all the info on requirements.
What are canoe and kayak tours all about?
Canoe and kayak tours are designed to offer a calm and relaxed little outing which is as much about the sightseeing as it is about the actual paddling. You might be going for a paddle past the fancy beachfront houses at Sandbanks, or cruising along a Scottish river with a stunning natural backdrop.
Can you go kayaking in London?
Yes! The purpose-built Lee Valley Watersports Centre is easily accessible from central London and boasts great Olympic-standard facilities. You can also got for a relaxed paddle on the Thames in the Richmond area, even having an ogle at the wonderfully secluded Pie Island as you go!
Where can I go canoeing or kayaking near me?
We’ve got canoeing and kayaking experiences at watersports centres, on rivers, lakes and canals throughout the country. Our current locations include: