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Q: Tourist canoeing in the United Kingdom ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Tourist canoeing in the United Kingdom
Category: Sports and Recreation > Outdoors
Asked by: nevilley-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 05 Sep 2006 02:19 PDT
Expires: 05 Oct 2006 02:19 PDT
Question ID: 762331
On a recent holiday in France we had a couple of excellent "canoeing"
trips. This is a sort of leisure, tourist-orientated activity where
you can basically just turn up, get a tiny bit of instruction, and off
you go. Rivers like the Herault seem ideal with rapids which are
exciting but seem not too dangerous, and nice flat bits in between.
The boats are very tough plastic boats which seem to be able to take
limitless abuse. Skill level required is low: we saw lots of people
even less competent than us going down rapids backwards or sideways
and it doesn't seem to be a big deal. Although the French companies
seem to call it "kayaking" I don't think it is by UK standards - you
are not really inside the boat, more on top of it mostly, and there's
no spray deck or anything. It is, to put it mildly, not an Olympic
sport. Not the way I did it! At the start or end of your 9km or 15km
or whatever there's a bus ride to connect to the base. It's all pretty
slick. :)

Here is an example website from one of the operators:

What I would like to know is whether you can do this activity in the
UK, especially in England though information on Scotland and Wales
would be welcome too as long as it was not to the exclusion of

I have looked a bit but found mostly proper canoe club sites which
talk about the importance of correct equipment and how to join the
club and come along to the Thursday night training session and learn
to fit your splash deck or whatever. Nooo! This is not (with the
greatest of respect to them) what I want - I am looking for the UK
equivalent of what we did in France - turn-up-and-go (probably
commercial?) for tourists.

I acknowledge that what I seek may not exist in the UK. I have no
doubt that some canoing purists will shudder at much of what I have
written, and I know it's possible that UK rivers (and weather!!) rule
it out, or it's considered too dangerous, or whatever. But at the
moment I simply don't know which is why I need your help. One of the
problems is I don't even know what you call this activity - it is not
perhaps canoeing as club members would see it - is it "clueless
tourist plastic boat canoeing" or something?! Do official sport bodies
hate it and think it's dangerous, or see it as a useful feeder to the
real sport, or harmless fun - or what?

A really excellent answer would explain the situation and, if
possible, give contact data for at least one centre, or an umbrella
organization, offering this activity in England. I'd also accept
(sadly) an answer which explains that this is not possible in the UK,
if it gave a bit of background and some references to the law, sports
bodies etc so I could see why.

The bottom line is I got a bit hooked on this activity and would like
to do it here, but don't want to join a club and take up a new sport.
It's like pony trekking for tourists as opposed to getting seriously
into riding! Even if it's naff in comparison, it's "where I wanna be"

(Please note that no offence whatsoever is intended to people who take
their canoeing seriously. I have the greatest respect. It's just that
I can't get properly into another sport but I loved this experience
and would like to do it again.)
Subject: Re: Tourist canoeing in the United Kingdom
Answered By: umiat-ga on 05 Sep 2006 09:56 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello, nevilley-ga! 

 Anyone who loves lazy canoeing or kayaking is right up my alley!
Don't worry - I understand what you are seeking. Who wants to put on
full body armour and attend a "Technical canoeing and Kayaking" class
when all you want is a leisurely day trip to enjoy the scenery?

 I found some resources for you that should fit the bill.


The following suggestions are from an excellent little travel journal:

"Canoeing in England."

"If you are traveling to the United Kingdom for a holiday, and you
enjoy canoeing or kayaking, there are places to indulge your interest.
On each of our trips to England my husband and I have searched out
places that will rent canoes or kayaks on a daily or hourly basis, and
have had some truly memorable paddling experiences."

"However, it is not as easy to find an outfitter, or "Canoe Hire," as
here in the USA. There are two reasons for this. The first one is that
many UK rivers are simply not open to public navigation, or are closed
to canoes and kayaks during prime fishing season (April to October).
If you holiday in the summer, as we often do, this reduces your
paddling options. The second reason is that many of the UK's rivers
are smaller and shorter in length than those in the US, so that fewer
rivers can provide a full-day canoe trip. Nevertheless, we have always
managed to add at least one day of paddling to our vacations. Canoeing
is also a good way to meet other people in a relaxed and beautiful

"Below you will find notes on several different trips we have done......"

1. The Waterfront, Pewsey Wharf - Rent kayaks by the hour

 "Our first time paddling in England was not planned. We drove over a
bridge spanning the Kennet and Avon Canal near Pewsey, in Wiltshire.
We stopped the car to admire the narrowboats tied up there, and ate
lunch in the canalside café (The Waterfront, Pewsey Wharf). We then
discovered that the owner also rented out tandem sit-on top kayaks by
the hour."

* I could find no websites referencing the canoe rentals, but here is
a link to the Waterfront at Pewsey Wharf:

2.  Floating Leaf Canoes - Looe

"On our next trip, based mainly in southwest Devon, we discovered
"Floating Leaf Canoes" in the seaside town of Looe, which is over the
border into Cornwall. The Looe River is tidal, and therefore like
other rivers whose upper reaches may be closed to canoes in summer, it
can be legally paddled from its mouth up to the point of its tidal
limits at any time of year. Julian and his wife June run one of the
best canoe hire operations that we have ever utilized
anywhere.....This trip is about three hours in length.."

The following website has further information:

"The tidal rivers of the Tamar, Lynher, Looe (East and West) and the
Fowey all offer excellent opportunities for exploring by canoe. Time
your expedition to fit in around high water to benefit from the tidal
flows. If you want an organised trip contact Canoe Tamar on 0845


Floating Leaf Canoes offer guided canoe trips, in wooden open canoes,
to discover the wildlife and scenery of the beautiful sheltered rivers
of Looe. Small groups allow for a personal service and previous
experience is not necessary. Equipment is provided and qualified
safety provision is constantly present.

Location: Higher Wringworthy, Morval, Looe  PL13 1PR  
01503 240566 / 07974 489266

3. River Wye

"One river in England and Wales that is open to public navigation all
year long is the River Wye. It offers about 100 miles of mainly Class
I (easy) water and beautiful scenery. We have traveled to this area
twice, and taken a canoe trip each time. There are many different
outfitters along the river, from Glasbury-on-Wye, down to Monmouth.
You may book trips in length from half day to week-long
paddling/camping journeys....."

 (Read further for some descriptions of various outfitters)

Wye Pursuits (lots of trips to choose from!)

4. The River Severn 

"The River Severn is open all year to public navigation in some sections...."

Sun Valley Canoeing

"Sun Valley Canoeing offer three routes, all including return trips on
the Severn Valley Steam Railway."


Here are some other outfitters I ran across:

Wyedean Canoe and Aventure Centre - Wye River

 Most of our new customers have never been on the river before, we
will put you totally at ease to enjoy the beautiful river and show you
how to paddle your canoe and hopefully remain dry!

Wales Wide Adventure

Rivers -  "An excellent day out! Ideal for beginners and those with a
little more experience, you can use open canoes or touring kayaks to
enjoy the scenery and abundant wildlife of Welsh rivers. After a short
lesson on the basic paddling strokes we set off downstream taking a
river bank picnic on the way."

Coast -  "An excellent day out! Ideal for those with a little more
experience, you can use general purpose or sea touring kayaks to enjoy
the scenery and abundant wildlife of the Welsh coast."
(See website for many more tours you can take!)


Boots & Paddles

"The Highlands of Scotland contain some of the most majestic rivers
our country has to offer. From two hour paddles to multi day
adventures, a canoe is the way to experience them. The River Spey, the
River Conon, the River Beauly and the Great Glen which includes Loch
Ness, along with numerous lochs are all available to explore. Need a
suggestion? Give us a call. We enjoy talking about canoeing almost as
much as doing it!!"

"We have a fleet of Mad River Horizon 15 foot and 17 foot canoes.
These are available for hire on a daily basis.  The price includes
paddles, waterproof barrels, cags and all safety equipment. You can
pick the canoe up from our headquarters, or for a charge, we can
deliver the canoe to you. If you wish to be picked up after a multi
day adventure, we can quote for that too. We can pick you up from
Inverness Airport, provide camping equipment and food and drop you off
along with the canoes at your prefered starting point. The
permutations are endless."

Loch Lomand

This first one might be "too tame" for you! 

"The launch area is in a sheltered lagoon, and we have a designated
area for you to sample the wonderful sport of open canoeing. Gently
paddle around the sheltered lagoon on the southern point of Loch
Lomond, with stunning views towards Ben Lomond and north of Loch
Lomond. Our staff monitor the designated area, patrolling in a safety
boat - so you can have complete peace of mind to enjoy the

This is guided, but promise more fun!:

Guided Day canoe trips on Loch Lomand

Sea Kayaking

 If you want something a bit more rugged and feel comfortable with sea
kayaking, several of the outfitters on the following site offer day


 While I realize I might not have found every outfitter for day
rentals, I hope these references provide a good start for you!

Wishing you a lot of enjoyment in the great outdoors!


Google Search

canoeing or kayaking And UK day trips
Waterfront Cafe Pewsey ward
Pewsey Wharf canoe OR kayak rental
"floating leaf canoes"
Wye River canoes
canoe rental day trips UK
canoe rental day trips Scotland
canoe rental day trips Wales
nevilley-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thank you very much for this really terrific answer. This is really
precisely what I needed: many thanks.

Subject: Re: Tourist canoeing in the United Kingdom
From: umiat-ga on 05 Sep 2006 19:56 PDT
Thank you so much for your kind comments and generous tip!

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