Top 5 Places to Paddle in Autumn

Top 5 Places to Paddle in Autumn

As September rolls in, so does the much loved season of autumn. Autumn is full of colourful leaves, pumpkin spiced lattes, and shorter evenings. All of these can make for some paddles that have stunning scenery, amazing sunsets, and tasty post-paddle treats. There are lots of amazing places to paddle this autumn, but here we have gathered together our top five paddles that make the most of this special time of year.

a set of coffee mugs connecting in front of a large lake

Trent loop

The Trent loop is a paddle roughly 15km that takes you down the rural feeling River Trent and back up the urban Nottingham Canal. Starting at  Beeston weir, you get onto the River Trent, forgetting you are in the bustling city of Nottingham. Clifton Hall just pokes out above the treetops atop a hill as you are surrounded by trees. Following the river down the scenery slowly transitions into a more urban feeling trail as you paddle deeper into the city.

You switch from river to canal paddling is right opposite the Nottingham Forest football ground. From there you paddle up the canal through the heart of Nottingham. Passing the Magistrates court, the train station, canalside bars, and even a distant view of the castle, Nottingham Canal has it all to see. Then as you move out towards Beeston Lock the setting starts to feel more rural again, ready to finish your paddle at the Beeston Lock tea room which sits between the end of the canal and start of the river section.

paddler paddling into a misty sunrise on the river trent

Peak Forest Canal

The Peak Forest Canal was completed in 1800, except for the flight of locks at Marple which were completed four years later. They were used to transport lime and grit stone from the quarries at Dove Holes to industrial Manchester and beyond. It was constructed on two levels, going from the junction with the Macclesfield Canal 6.5 miles to the termini at Whaley Bridge. At 518 feet above sea level it’s the highest stretch of navigable water in the whole canal system. It offers fabulous views on a clear day of the Pennines and the plateau of Kinder Scout. These will be showing a whole palette of autumnal colours. Approaching Whaley Bridge there is a branch to the left leading to Bugsworth Basin. This is the only inland interchange basin in Britain’s narrow canal system. Find the OS maps route here.

peak forest canal reflecting sunlight onto the high stone brick wall opposite the footpath

Llangollen Canal, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

The Llangollen Canal straddles the border between England and Wales. But the aqueduct that provides stunning views is just outside the Welsh town of Llangollen. Lifting you 127 feet above the River Dee, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a remarkable feat of engineering. You go across the Dee Valley where stunning sunset shots can be seen. Being in North Wales, you are also surrounded by nature, so throughout autumn the colours will be sensational. There are a number of top class pubs, restaurants, and cafes along the canal, perfect for warming food and drink. This stretch of canal works for any length of paddle as it covers over 46 miles in length. So from a quick splash over the aqueduct, to a day long mission, this canal can provide. 

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct reaching over the river dee with autumnal colours in the trees below

Boat & Anchor Inn to Somerset Boat Centre, Bridgwater & Taunton Canal

This paddle trail starts off at the Boat & Anchor Inn in Bridgewater, and is a ‘there and back’ route, so you can be sure of a good bite to eat and nice hot drink. The route cuts through a number of fields with lots of wildlife running along the banks. Two lock portages each way gives the opportunity to stretch the legs and take a minute rest. Once you reach the far end of the paddle, you are greeted by the Somerset Boat Centre.

This centre also offers a variety of paddlesports lessons, as well as the hire of kayaks and paddleboards. It’s a brilliant alternative starting point should you require the hire of craft. From here you turn around and make your way back up to the Inn you started at. As you get close to the end you will be able to smell the delicious food cooking. Nipping inside for some autumnal delights is a great way to end your paddle.

taunton canal meandering around a corner, surrounded by clear rural space

Barton Broad and Dilham Canal 

This journey takes you along the second largest broad in Norfolk, dug for peat in the 13th century. The trail goes around the edge of the broad, up the River Ant, onto the disused North Walsham and Dilham Canal. The derelict Honing Lock offers a wide expanses and the sheltered isolation of the abandoned canal. It is easy to lose yourself in the nature on this trail, and the colours during the autumn months will be a spectacle. The flat landscape of the Norfolk Broads also lends itself to some next level sunsets in the evenings. The paddle is 13 miles in length, but has a campsite at the end, making a ‘there and back’ two day trip a very good option. They even offer glamping, so no need to carry your tent in your boat! Find the OS maps route here.

windmill overlooking the river ant with a very autumnal feel

So, if you take to the water this autumn, on one of these trails or your own little adventure, please tag us in your photos on social media. We love seeing the beautiful autumn colours, stunning sunsets and rises, and spiced lattes.