Top 5 Royal Paddling Trails

Top 5 Royal Paddling Trails

With King Charles III being crowned in May 2023, we thought we would get into the royal mood and hunt down some of our more regal paddle trails. From palace views to royal history, you can find all sorts on our waters. So here are our top 5 royal paddling trails.

Hampton Court Palace

Find on PaddlePoints

Starting in one of the more obvious locations for royal paddling, the River Thames has lots of connections. One of the stand out royal paddle trails on the Thames takes you right around the Hampton Court Palace and its spectacular gardens. From the water you can get a truly unique vantage point of the palace that was home to King Henry VIII and his wives. The gardens steal the show here as they house an amazing 60 acre formal garden among 750 acre parkland. 

If you continue your paddle along the Thames you’ll spot many royal landmarks. The palace of Westminster, the tower of London, the Royal Observatory, Royal Naval College, and the Queen’s house are all visible from the water. Finally, the coronation procession is due to follow the Thames for a short length as it moves between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. 

Hampton court palace from the other side of the thames

Royal Albert Dock

Find on PaddlePoints

The Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool is a unique place to paddle. It is steeped in history and amazing architecture. The docks are named after Prince Consort Albert, who officially opened the docks in 1846. They were revolutionary as their warehouses were on the waterfront, allowing boats to unload directly into them. 

Used for worldwide trade up until the second world war, when it was used to house the British Atlantic Fleet’s ships. Most recently, the docks have seen music royalty in the form of The Beatles, who are famously from the area. Nowadays, the docks are full of shops and restaurants, making it the most popular tourist attraction in the UK outside of London. You can take in this truly special dock from the water, with delivery partners offering paddling trips around the docks.

a greyscale photo of the royal albert dock showing lots of the architexture around it

Great River Ouse

Find on PaddlePoints

The Great River Ouse flows for 230 km from Syresham, Northamptonshire, to the North Sea. Along this long stretch of river lies the Jubilee Gardens, opened in 2002 by His Royal Highness Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The gardens were created to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden jubilee. The park was awarded green flag status in 2005 and has become a well loved outdoor area for all to enjoy. 

The Great River Ouse also flows past King’s Lynn. Although royal by name, it has very few links with royalty in its past. The town’s main regal boast is a visit from Princess Victoria in 1835, two years before she became queen. King’s Lynn is still full of historic landmarks that are worth a visit. The town’s old port offers lots of opportunities to launch onto the river for a paddle.

the great river ouse being overlooked by ely cathederal

Royal Military Canal

Find on PaddlePoints

Traditionally built as transport links, canals main use was carrying goods around the country. However, the Royal Military Canal was constructed between 1804 and 1809, during the Napoleonic wars, as a form of defence. It was Prince Frederick, the Duke of York, who backed the construction of it. The prince traveled the length of it, and was actively involved in its official opening in 1809. 

Spanning from Seabrook to Cliff End, the canal runs for 28 miles through rural Kent. You’ll spot all kinds of wildlife and historic ruins along the way. By using a spread of start and end points, you can make you paddle exactly as you want it.  But, no matter where you start, enjoy the canal that a royal of the past had a hand in creating.

the royal military canal flowing through parkland

Caledonian Canal

Find on PaddlePoints

Completed in 1822, the Caledonian Canal links together the east and west coasts of Scotland. Running for 100km through four loch’s and stretches of man made canals, this is Scotland’s longest inland waterway. Queen Victoria give this trail its royal link, enjoying it in 1873.  The queen’s love for this trail sparked huge interest in the area, giving rise to the tourism industry here. Even when the railway arrived at Fort Williams and Inverness, the waterway kept its popularity, with trains scheduling around the steam boat arrivals. 

Paddlers these days race the length of the canal in the Great Glen paddle challenge. It is of course done at a more leisurely pace by many, giving them time to take in the stunning scenery that Queen Victoria loved. There is also a large number of castles overlooking the water. Some were homes to many of the Scottish royals of the past. 

the neptune staircase on the caledonian canal surrounded by mountains

There are many many more waterways across the UK that have royal links, but these are some of our favourites. Make the most of the coronation weekend in May, and throughout the year, and get exploring the royal waters.