Lone kayaker paddling down a beautiful and quiet stretch of river in the sunshine

Top 10 Places for Canoeing in the UK

Whether you prefer a peaceful paddle around a lake, want to tackle whitewater rapids in a river, or navigate the waves around the coast, there’s truly something for everyone, whether a novice or a pro.

Here are our recommendations for the top 10 canoeing destinations in the UK…

Port Isaac

Port Isaac, Cornwall

Unsurprisingly, you’ll be spoilt for choice for canoeing spots in Cornwall. There are many winding countryside rivers to choose from but the coast calls most strongly with its hidden coves, sea caves and soft sandy beaches.

Port Isaac Bay is the perfect place to start your Cornish canoeing adventure, offering an opportunity for paddlers to weave around striking scenery, quiet coves and turquoise waters underneath towering cliffs

Durdle Door rock formation in the sea off a beautiful beach in Dorset

Jurassic Coast, Devon

Sticking with the South West, we would be amiss not to mention taking your canoe down to the dramatic Jurassic Coast – a World Heritage site famous among fossil hunters – at either Dorset or Devon.

We’ve chosen Devon’s Orcombe Point as the best place to pitch up, as this Exmouth spot has plenty of scenery to offer in its own right and make a great entry or exit point for exploring the rest of the coastline.

Lizard Peninsula

The Lizard, Cornwall

For a further taste of sea kayaking on the Cornish coast, taking your paddles to The Lizard Peninsular means you can tick off a must-see destination and explore the famous landmark from a different perspective.

For beginners, there are a number of tour companies that offer watersports and guided canoeing tours around the area, providing the chance to explore islands, spot wildlife and learn about how to be safe on the open waters.

Caledonian Canal

Great Glen Canoe Trail, Scotland

If you prefer inland canoeing, Scotland and its many lochs, canals and rivers make for a superb luxury holiday destination. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to places to take your paddles, with the Great Glen Canoe Trail set up specifically for those that love the waterways.

Take the chance to not only enjoy the fresh air and exercise but to glide peacefully through Scotland’s remote landscape, beginning with the Caledonian Canal in Inverness and taking a ‘coast to coast’ cut through the country to Corpach, close to Fort William. There are may places to hop out for a wander or a picnic along the way, including the Loch Ness Centre and Urquhart Castle.

Lake Coniston

Coniston Water, Lake District

It goes without saying that you won’t be short of canoeing options in Cumbria’s Lake District. Take your pick of the ‘lakes’ approved for canoeing and choose which one suits you – whether you’d like to be guided around popular spots by experts, or wish to seek out the secret places where you can enjoy the views in peace.

Coniston – the third-largest lake in the Lake District by volume – is our pick. At around five miles long and half a mile wide, you can paddle along while admiring forest and woodland, and enjoy a pitstop in the village, all within view of the imposing Old Man mountain.

River Findhorn

River Findhorn, Scotland

One for fearless and experienced canoeists and kayakers – Scotland’s River Findhorn can offer a wild ride, with foaming waters and craggy rocks to navigate.

Winding its way through the Scottish Highlands, the river offers advanced canoe explorers the chance to tackle challenging rapids. However, some sections of the river also provide the time to simply soak up the peaceful scenery and spy local wildlife.

Barafundle Bay beach in Wales

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire

In Wales, you won’t want to miss Pembrokeshire’s National Trust-owned nature reserve, Stackpole. A great trip in its own right, the area is blessed with wildlife-abundant woodland and valleys, lily ponds, lakes, sandy beaches and beautiful coastline.

The varied landscape, full of coves and quays, is a great place to take your vessel and hit the water, with the option to hire gear, book a tour or go it alone.

River Allen

River Allen, Northumberland

Surrounded by ancient woodland, the River Allen rolls through Northumberland wilderness and is one for the most adventurous and experienced of paddlers. Offering whitewater, boulders and bends, this is a route that will get the adrenaline pumping and provide plenty of scenery, too.

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