Places to Paddle in the UK Ideas & Advice

Paddling locations coastal, canals and rivers
Paddling locations coastal, canals and rivers

Exploring UK waterways is a good way to get fit and experience nature. Info on paddling the UK in canoes, kayaks and SUP's

Where to Paddleboard, Kayak, or Canoe?

Rivers range from grade 1 to grade 6

Paddling river locations has a grading system in place to help determine the nature of the water from slow-moving flat water (Grade I) to huge whitewater sections (Grade IV to VI) and everything in between.

Tip: Be aware that rivers can change quickly and in spate(flood) can be a different proposition. Find as much information on conditions such as wind, and route details before you set off.

Paddling Lakes and Lochs

These can be deceptive from flat calm to over 3ft waves in strong winds and storms. Bigger lakes can mimic a sea state based on length of open water subject to wind sheer, (fetch) and depth of water. Landing at the first sign of gusting winds, storms or white caps is a good way to reduce this risk. Staying close to shore is also advised and fitting your canoe with buoyancy bags for additional floatation is a good idea in case you dump.

The Canal and River Trust are responsible for our network of canals many of which offer some iconic paddling journeys with plenty of historic locations providing a meaningful journey. You can add to your challenge by portaging some of our larger flights of locks such as Neptune’s Staircase in Fort William or the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes on the Kennet and Avon Canal for example. The CRT offers an Explorer Pass which provides a month of waterways access during a calendar year.

Sea Kayaking

Paddling on the sea provides an ever-changing 3-D experience with waves, tides, and our dynamic and random coastline. From sheltered harbors and estuaries to coves and headlands and challenging locations with tide races and overfalls, Britain is a sea kayaking paradise. Be warned it can also be a punishing environment with stormy seas, offshore winds, and treacherous waves. Paddle within your limits, check the forecast, and ask a local about conditions to ensure you play safe. Coastal paddling also offers the perfect foraging experience with seaweeds, mollusks, and other edible foods that are easy to collect. We often include a seafood paella on our customer trips which goes down a storm at the end of a day's paddling.

Top Tip: Check out guide books on paddling locations in the UK which give route descriptions, hazards, and points of interest.

Handy Hint: Visit UK Rivers Guide and Sea Kayak Guide, Open Canoe Association, or Song of the Paddle for up to date information about rivers and waterways and can be found on Facebook. 

We have been on hundreds of trips in many locations and conditions, feel free to contact us here to hear more about our paddling trips or for more advice.