Best places for kayaking and canoeing in the UK

Activity, Watersports

Posted by Ed on 22nd January 2021

Best places for kayaking and canoeing in the UK

What better way to explore the UK's glorious coastlines than from the water? Kayaking and canoeing are some of the top Great British water sports, and embarking on a trip is an exciting adventure, whether you're meandering through islands off the west coast of Scotland or gliding through the tranquil waters of the Lake District. Whether you prefer kayaking or canoeing on a river, lake or in the sea, our guide will lead you to some of the UK's best spots.

Here are our favourite places to kayak in the UK. And, if you're looking for a waterside property to rest up in after your kayak trip, click the button below to browse our full collection.

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The best places to go kayaking and canoeing in the UK 

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Best rivers for kayaking and canoeing in the UK

River Fal, Cornwall

River Fal, Cornwall

The woodland-fringed creeks of the River Fal in West Cornwall make this an enchanting place to explore from the water. Look out over Fal-Ruan Nature Reserve and immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings of this tidal river.

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River Lyn, North Devon

East Lyn River, North Devon

Hire a guide and take a challenge to follow the rocky, ravine-fringed East Lyn River downstream from Three Rivers to the sea at Lynmouth. It's a pro-active endeavour and sure to give the most ardent enthusiast a good shakedown. The waters aren't very deep but the river course is fast and lively as it rushes down from the heights of Exmoor into the Bristol Channel. 

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National White Water Centre, Snowdonia

National White Water Centre, Snowdonia

Close to Bala in Snowdonia, North Wales, you will find the National White Water Centre. This is where canoeing is a way of life and you can enjoy a fun, involving training course on the dam-controlled River Tryweryn. There's a whole host of waterborne activities to choose from, including white water rapid riding in giant dinghies. Whatever your preference, if you want to learn the ropes, this is a top option.

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Best lakes for kayaking and canoeing in the UK

Derwent Water, Lake District

Derwent Water, Lake District

Known as the Queen of the Lakes, Derwent Water can be found nestled in the Borrowdale Valley. Explore the islands in your own kayak or embark on an adventure with a guided group! There’s nothing quite like gliding through the water with the mountainous backdrop of the Lake District. Beyond Derwent Water, there are many other places to enjoy kayaking in the Lake District like Coniston Water, Ullswater, and Lake Windermere to name a handful.

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Carsington Water, Peak District

Carsington Water, Peak District

Carsington Water is a vast reservoir close to the south-east border of the Peak District National Park. Just west of the history Derbyshire towns of Matlock and Belper, Carsington Water is a lovely place for an easy-going bout of kayaking and canoeing. There are facilities at the lake that include kayak hire, there's even a shop where you can buy waterproofs to wear and enjoy a light lunch. 

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Hickling Broad, The Norfolk Broads

Hickling Broad, The Norfolk Broads

Hickling Broad in Norfolk is an exceptionally beautiful, untouched part of the Northern Broads with many calm corners for you to explore via kayak. The extremes of the Broads are only accessible by canoe, so it is the perfect opportunity to experience some lesser-spotted parts of the coast. 

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Best places for sea kayaking in the UK

The west coast of Scotland

The west coast of Scotland

With craggy coastlines, tiny islands and sea lochs to explore, West Scotland is a prime kayaking spot. The deep, sheltered sea lochs are perfect for when the weather is a little too rough to venture into the sea. Check out the western isles of Jura and Islay, the Isle of Skye and Arisaig.

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Anglesey, Wales

Anglesey, Wales

For experienced kayakers, the Menai Straits, North Stack and Penrhyn Mawr offer an exciting adventure. But for novice kayakers Anglesey’s sheltered east coast is truly idyllic. Look out for Anglesey’s resident sea life, including porpoises, seals and birds. If you’d like to wind through rocky gullies, visit Rhoscolyn.

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Combe Martin, Devon

Combe Martin, Devon

Backed by the spectacular scenery of Exmoor National Park, Combe Martin is a magical kayaking spot in North Devon. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is full of secret caves and secluded beaches, which can only be reached from the sea. Dolphins and seals can be seen regularly on this stretch of coast, making the experience all the more special.

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Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall

The Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall

Admire the wild and rugged coastline of the Lizard Peninsula from the sea. With caves and coves to explore, as well as secluded beaches such as Kynance Cove, you’ll soon discover why this part of the UK is so special. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re somewhere much more exotic than Cornwall when you take to the azure water and meander along the coast.

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Map of the UK's top canoeing & kayaking spots

Find all of the UK's best canoeing and kayaking spots on our helpful map.


Stay at one of our waterside holiday cottages

For more inspiration take a look at our post on the best places for sailing in the UK or pick out a cottage by the water. We have large collection of self-catering holiday cottages in waterside locations. Check out our range of holiday cottages situated all over the UK for you to choose from. We have the perfect holiday accommodation for you, whether you are planning a trip with your family or a romantic break with your loved one. Where will you stay on your kayaking holiday?

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.