Paddleboarding: a beginner's guide

Thinking about trying out paddleboarding? Here is what you need to know before trying out the sport.


How can I try paddleboarding?

The easiest and cheapest way to try stand up paddleboarding is to find a taster session at your local club.

Typically, a taster session will take between one to two hours and most people will be able to stand up by the end of their first session.

Sessions usually include instruction on water safety, how to stand up, basic paddling and self-rescue techniques.

What do I need to take with me?

Remember to take the following:

  • Spare pair of dry clothes
  • Sun cream for sunny days
  • Drinking water
  • Towel
  • Waterproofs for rainy days
  • Thermals and wetsuit/dry suit for cold weather

If you go to a local club, they will provide you with a buoyancy aid.

Do I have to be fit to try paddleboarding?

The beauty of stand-up paddleboarding is that anyone of any age or fitness can give it a go. The hardest part is learning how to stand up, but once you have mastered this technique, you can very much take it at your own pace.

What are the benefits of paddleboarding?

Stand up paddleboarding is good for your body and soul. It's a low-impact activity that exercises your whole body and develops your overall fitness. It can especially help to strengthen your core and improve your overall balance.

Paddleboarding also allows you to practise mindfulness by enjoying your surroundings in the calm environment of the water, which research has shown can help to clear your mind and reduce stress.

Do I need a licence?

Yes, you do need a licence to use a paddleboard on a canal. If you try stand-up paddleboarding with a club, they will arrange the licence for you.

If you want to go on your own, have a look at our short term licences. Our 30-day licence can be used on 30 different days throughout the year.

Where am I allowed to paddleboard?

You can use a stand-up paddleboard anywhere on our canal and river network, except for certain tunnels and aqueducts.

For safety reasons, we don't allow paddleboards to go through locks, so you will have to walk around these and rejoin the water further along.

Read through the safety guidelines and rules of the waterway for paddlers on page 55 of our Boater's Handbook

Check your route before you travel, so that you know about any permanent features, such as flights of locks, and any temporary restrictions or stoppages.

Last date edited: 16 October 2020