Introduction to Paddling

Introduction to Paddling

Want to learn all about the world of paddling but not sure where to start? When you take up a new hobby the information on offer can be intimidating. But do not fear! We’ve put together this bite sized guide to give you a head start on the water.

What type of craft can you paddle?

There are many different types of paddlecraft. The ones you’ll come across most often are canoes, kayaks and SUPs (stand up paddleboards).

  1. Canoe – Traditionally an ‘open’ boat, which you sit or kneel inside to paddle. The size of the canoe makes it perfect for multi-day or family adventures, as well as solo travel.
  2. Kayak – A boat which you can either sit in or on top of with your legs stretched in front of you. Kayaks are available as one or two person vessels, and can be used on everything from the sea to canals.
  3. SUP – SUP is the cool teenage sibling to canoeing and kayaking. A fast growing activity, you stand on a board rather like a surf board and use a one ended paddle to move.

For more pro, cons, and information of the types of craft have a look at our ‘Kayak, Canoe, or Paddleboard?‘ article.

Top tip – An easy way to know if you’re paddling a canoe or kayak is by the type of paddle. When canoeing you use a paddle with a blade at just one end. If kayaking the paddle with have a blade at each end.

What clothes and equipment do you need?

  1. Clothing – When you start paddling you don’t need special clothing. Warm layers and a change of clothes for after are your best friend. If you are enjoying time on the water then consider investing in some paddle specific kit. From waterproof paddle jackets to UV rash vests, it is worth having the right kit when you are paddling regularly.
  2. Equipment – The most important thing you need for a safe trip is a well fitting buoyancy aid. If you’re paddling on white water you will also need a helmet. At some venues this equipment will be available to hire before having to splash out on the kit yourself.

What are the different types of paddling? 

One of the best things about paddling is the wide range of disciplines you can take part in. With everything from adrenaline filled white water kayaking to a gentle canoe tour on the canals, you are sure to find the right fit for you. Not sure what you see yourself paddling? Start with the basics and consider joining a local club. Get yourself on the water and find out what you enjoy most by trying lots of different types of craft, whenever you can. Don’t underestimate the power of a good Google or Youtube search either for some inspiration!

Where can you paddle?

  1. Stay local – many people who go paddling make the most of what’s on their doorstep. Canal and river systems run across the country, many of which you can paddle on with a basic licence. With 4500km of waterways waiting to be discovered, there’s bound to be somewhere near you to have a regular paddle of an evening.  Top tip: It’s not just pretty countryside you can paddle through. Most cities have a river or canal system running through them which can be utilised for a post-work paddle session or unique commute!
  2. Clubs and centres – If you want to learn the ropes properly before you get on the water, there are hundreds of clubs and centres around the country who can get you on the water. They can guide and inspire, transferring all the knowledge you need to become an independent paddler. There’s also the option to take Paddle Awards  and the Paddle Safer & SUP Safer courses if you want to!
  3. Go on an adventure – want to paddle more for adventure purposes? Cool! We’re lucky to live on an island, so you’re spoilt for choice. From harbours to river rapids, tranquil canals to multi-day sea adventures and absolutely everything in between. Our Paddlepoints map will help you find paddling wherever you want to go!
  4. Paddling holidays – very popular with the fair weather paddlers, or those who just love to travel and paddle. There are lots of campsites across the UK that are right next to water where you can pitch up and paddle.
  5. Paddling Trailsour Paddle Trails take all the hassle out of planning a day out on the water. They provide you will parking points, places to get on and off the water, plus vital information like pubs and cafes on root, and toilet stops too! There’s over 160 across the country ranging from short 2-3 milers, to epic full day 15 mile trails… so when we say there’s something for everyone, there really is!

Let’s go paddling!

Now you know enough to bluff your way as a paddling expert, it’s time to get on the water! We’ll see you there…