People Kayaking on the River Thames

Top 10 Places for Kayaking in the UK

So, why not base your next luxury cottage staycation around the best places for kayaking in the country? Grab your wetsuit and your double-bladed paddle and begin exploring the nation’s waterways – from winding rivers to peaceful lakes and deep blue seas.

Here are our top 10 places for kayaking in the UK…

Port Isaac in Cornwall

1. Cornwall

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the beach, surfing and watersports centre of the UK ranks first among our top choices for kayaking. The Cornish coastline is a great place to pitch up with your watercraft and begin exploring the many caves, coves and beachfronts.

Paddle around in the sunshine, across warm, sparkling aquamarine waters, in a place where there will be no shortage of kayaks, canoes or specialist swimwear to rent, and lessons available for those without experience.

The Lizard Peninsula is one of the most popular places to go for a paddle, with Mullion Harbour, Cadgwith Cove, Kynance Cove, and Lizard Point among the best places to make a splash. Further inland, the Fowey Estuary is also a famed spot for keen kayakers.

Loch an Eilein surounded by trees and mountains

2. The Lochs of Scotland

The spectacular scenery of Scotland needs no introduction and nor do its most famous lochs – which make for fantastic kayaking spots. Surrounded by magnificent mountains and vast woodland, you’ll take to Scotland’s pristine, tranquil lochs and clear waters and see the natural world reflected straight back at you.

These large, remote, open spaces, filled with fresh water, can provide a peaceful environment and a smooth ride for watersports enthusiasts. While, with over 30,000 lochs to choose from, you will be spoiled for choice. Top spots include Loch Lomond, the Cairngorms National Park, Loch Ness, Loch Awe, Loch Morar and Loch Tay.

Dog In The Lake District

3. The Lake District

It goes without saying that the Lake District is going to offer ample opportunity for kayakers to get closer to nature. Book one of our luxury hideaways near the Lakes and make best use of the area’s 16 lakes and tarns, also known as meres or waters.

There’s plenty of infrastructure for visitors who wish to enjoy the beauty of Cumbria’s waters, which helps the appeal of this area. As, in between walks, treks, swims, cycles, boat trips and watersports, guests can also explore lots of lovely villages. The best ‘lakes’ in the, er, Lakes for kayaking include Winderemere (of course), Ullswater, Derwentwater and Coniston.

As the longest lake in England, Windermere can be hard to beat for space, although it is popular and busy. While, smaller Thirlmere is another option for those seeking somewhere a little bit quieter. It’s also worth remembering that Cumbria has many rivers to offer, too.

Welsh Borders Hero Wye

4. Wye Valley

The Wye Valley, an often less traveled to and relatively untouched area of the UK, spanning the Welsh-English borders, features the River Wye at its heart. Winding through a number of areas, the river and the valley provide miles of water for kayakers to enjoy, amid fields and woodland.

There are a number of rental points for canoes and kayaks, throughout the valley, and at one point, there’s even 133km of uninterrupted public water to navigate, from Hay Town Bridge to Bigsweir, meaning you can make a real trip of it. As well as sightseeing, kayaking also offers the opportunity to visit some great riverside pubs at the end of the day.

Spring Evening Light On Thrift 'Sea Pinks' In Ceibwr Bay, Pembroke, Wales

5. Pembrokeshire, Wales

Now rivalling Cornwall as one of the best places in the UK for surfing and watersports, Pembrokeshire provides a wealth of kayaking opportunities for visitors.

With more than 220 miles of coastline, there’s plenty of chance to try your hand at sea kayaking and to visit the many offshore islands, beaches and cliffs that pepper the location.

Taking in the scenery by sea is highly recommended, although there are areas with fast tidal flows that suit experienced kayakers only, thanks to choppy waves, whirlpools and caves that will suit hardcore thrill seekers. Stackpole and ‘The Bitches’ are spots that both local and travelling kayakers adore.

Lakes on Snowdon

6. Snowdonia, Wales

Staying in Wales, which has long been a big draw for watersports lovers, we next head to Snowdonia. There can’t be much better in life than kayaking close to the nation’s most famous mountain? There are options aplenty in the National Park of the same name, with choices for beginners and the more experienced aquatic adventurers.

Cliffs, lakes, rivers, woodland – this area has it all. Drink in the views from your kayak at lake hotspots including Lyn Padarn, Llyn Tegid – Wales’ largest natural lake, and Llyn Gwynant. For those seeking white water kayaking opportunities, Afon Conwy and Afon Glaslyn are among the best shouts.

Barnard Castle and the River Tees

7. The River Tees

Covering areas of Durham and the North East, and parts of Yorkshire, The Tees is one of the north’s most intriguing choices for kayakers. Take to the well-known river and paddle along the banks for a high-octane experience.

Starting in the Pennines and finishing in the North Sea, the Tees regularly draws in white water paddlers. Although, some parts of the river can be particularly forceful, so it’s important to do your research beforehand and stay safe. Along the river’s route, you’ll find rapids and waterfalls. If you’re lucky, when exploring the Tees, you may even spot a seal or two, as well as plenty of ducks – just take care not to disturb them.

Beach at Bempton and Flamborough

8. Bempton Cliffs, East Riding of Yorkshire

Another area of the north that’s popular with kayakers is Bempton Cliffs, with many starting out on their sea kayaking adventure from Flamborough Head.

Bempton Cliffs is an RSPB nature reserve, which means it is a tremendous opportunity to see wildlife, specifically seabirds, while out on the waves and around the cliffs. It’s crucial not to get too close to any nesting birds and the RSPB provides some guidance on how to sustainably kayak and canoe in the area.

While venturing through the crags, pools and waves, you may even see puffins – between late spring and early summer – or come across seals and jellyfish.

Whiterock and Ballydorn Northern Ireland

9. Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland also offers plenty of places to paddle, with Strangford Lough a notable destination for those wanting to try their hand at the sport. There are a number of adventure centres from which you can begin your journey and trails that beginners and experienced paddlers alike will enjoy following.

With whirlpools and rocky areas, there is plenty of variety, and some points should be treated with caution. However, the largely unspoilt natural scenery, and diverse range of wildlife and habitats, will make for a fantastic excursion. Many of the islands that you can visit are also owned by the National Trust.

People Kayaking on the River Thames

10. The Thames, London

If you’re staying close to London, a day trip to the city can be surprisingly peaceful – if you swap your red tour bus or tube ticket for a paddle and a kayak instead.

See the capital like never before by taking to The Thames and paddling your way down the UK’s most famous river. While you may not be spoilt by the sight of mountains and dense forests, you will be able to enjoy the history of the riverside, drift past bridges and historic sites such as the Houses of Parliament, and simply see the world go by from the water. Why not visit a famous riverside pub, or take a picnic and relax at one of the more scenic spots?

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