Getting started

If you're thinking of taking up a new sport and want to try your hand at canoeing then our canals and rivers are the perfect places to start.

A group of people canoing through the centre of Birmingham Canoeing in the centre of Birmingham

Where should I start?

While you can visit a retailer, kit yourself out and take to the water by yourself, it’s always far more fun (and safer) if you know what you’re doing. To get the basics mastered, your local canoeing club or centre will be the best place to start.

A club can provide you with all the equipment you need and will be able to arrange lessons to help you gain the necessary skills. Whether you’re looking to meet new people, improve your fitness or learn new skills, your local club will be able to help.

Take a look at the British Canoeing and Canoe Wales websites to find your local club.

Need some hints and tips? Visit Kayak Reviewer.

Join a starter session

Go Paddling starter sessions offer an excellent way to find out more about your local club. They are open to everybody and are a great way to get started or refresh your paddling skills.

Who can canoe?

The great thing about canoeing is that almost everyone can join in regardless of age, gender or level of fitness.

Howard Blackman, head of participation at British Canoeing explains: “The beauty of the canoeing is that it has low impact on your joints and you can paddle with any fitness level and whatever your fitness level currently is, it will improve. The sport can be as gentle or demanding as you like.”

What is the difference between a canoe and a kayak?

the main difference between a canoe and a kayak is that a canoe is usually open deck boat, seated or kneeling rowing position, using a single bladed paddle. A kayak, on the other hand, is usually a closed deck boat, seated position with legs stretched out and you would use double-bladed paddle.

Do I need a licence?

Yes! The best way to get a licence is to become a member of British Canoeing or Canoe Wales. Not only will you get access to our network of inland waterways, you'll get a host of other benefits too.

Alternatively you can  buy a short term visitor licence from our boat licensing pages.

Last date edited: 8 June 2021