What is it?
Canoeing and kayaking are paddle sports in which you kneel or sit facing forward in an open or closed-decked canoe or kayak and propel yourself with either a single or double-bladed paddle. It may sound simple, but there are few sports more versatile than canoeing. You can discover the peace and tranquillity of Britain’s waterways, explore stunning coastlines or challenge yourself on natural and manmade whitewater. Whether you want a relaxing pastime or adrenaline-pumping competition, canoeing has something for everyone. Disciplines include the Olympic events of canoe sprint and canoe slalom, there’s also freestyle kayaking, international canoe sailing, marathon racing, canoe polo, sea kayaking, open canoeing, canoe surfing, touring and recreation, white water rafting, wild water kayaking, and wild water racing.
Why is it good for me?
- It’s a low impact activity that can improve your aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility
- Even the most seemingly leisurely paddle will give you a good aerobic workout
- It needn’t be a competitive thing, so you can keep your stress and adrenaline levels down
How much does it cost?
Go Canoeing is an initiative set up by British Canoeing and funded by Sport England that aims to help more people get involved in canoeing by providing a range of captivating and inspiring opportunities and resources. Clubs and centres across the country offer Go Canoeing Starter Sessions, which give beginners the chance to try their hand at paddling for the first time. Some sessions are free with others starting from as little as £2.50.
Canoes themselves can be expensive, but while you’re starting out in the sport, most clubs and centres have equipment that can be borrowed or hired.
What equipment do I need?
- Warm, comfortable clothing such as tracksuit bottoms (ideally not jeans) and layered tops
- Water/windproof over layers
- Suitable footwear, a pair of old shoes which you don’t mind getting wet is fine
As well as these basics, you will also need a canoe or kayak, a paddle and a buoyancy aid, which is an absolute must. All of these items can usually be provided by your local canoe club or centre, although it is worth checking with them before arriving for your session.