Canoeing and Kayaking


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I used to be into kayaking when I was younger and became fairly proficient at it, I could even do that barrel role thing where you go upside down and flip yourself back over again. Other than that though, my experience was entirely limited to pottering around in swimming pools and lakes during the summer holidays, I suppose my parents saw it as a good way of getting me out of the house.

Fast forward a few years to now and it turns out I have a nice river running past my house. I quite fancy getting back into it and possibly going for a Deliverance style mission down the river with a load of beers and a few oppos (without the rape in the woods obviously).

So what's the score with this? Can you just buy a canoe or kayak, launch into the river and head off? I hear the fisherman can get a bit pissed off about it and there are a lot of Salmon and Trout fisherman on the river, some of whom pay a lot of money to do their chosen sport. Also what sort of canoe is best? How much do they cost? I've checked on ebay and there are tons to chose from, touring kayaks, Canadian canoes, sit on kayaks, surf kayaks etc. Which ones are most suitable for plodding down a river with some light rapids while carrying enough booze and scran to last you a weekend?

The rivers I plan on navigating are the Lowther, Lyvennet and Eden.

Any information is much appreciated on this subject.


Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
are you going to start asking which shoes to wear on certain days next?
I only own one pair of shoes. Pusser's issue Timberland deck shoes, they work for all occasions.

Thanks for the boating tips. Don't suppose you know where I can get a decent banjo do you?
Join the British Canoe Union (Canoe England) based in Nottingham or whatevever thay have renamed themselves this week.

Contact the Access Officer via the BCU for the area you live in who will advise on the rights to the rivers you wish to paddle.

Join a local canoe/kayak club try out everybodies elses boats before you buy. (Wait until end of the summer season and buy the boat of your choice from a club member who can not handle the cold weather/water etc for a fraction of the full price).

BCU members receive good discounts at the major kayak suppliers.

As I was the unpaid logistic and finacial support to my son who kayaked for GB (Playboats/white water etc) I have a few contacts in the kayaking world and if you require any more info please send me a PM.
You need to decide whether you want to kayak or canoe. Sounds like your past experience was in a kayak, which is often the case because canoes are rarer! Being older (and perhaps bigger?), and looking for the social aspect, you might now prefer a canoe to a kayak.

Permission wise, you should have a licence to navigate nearly all inland waterways in the UK. If you join the BCU you'll get a licence that will allow you to use the vast majority of these - that’s how most people do it - and 3rd party insurance with it. That said, I've never been asked to show my membership card to anyone, and nobody has looked at my boat sticker that I've noticed.

I run wilderness canoe expeditions in my "spare time", and I'd suggest canoeing is the way forward. You can get masses of kit in a canoe that will sustain you for months (if you wanted it), along with one or two oppos. For the UK, I'd recommend getting an Old Town Discovery. They're durable, big capacity, 2/3 man, and very stable.

Avoid sit on tops (only good in the sea), inflatable (shit), or any other type of kayak that isn’t general purpose. Perception make good kayaks, and in the UK too. I'd recommend the Perception Arc for all round general stuff.

If you're in the forces, there are plenty of courses and expeditions you can volunteer for!

Canoeing is the fastest growing sport in the UK, and has been for several years.



Book Reviewer
I'm still using a fibreglass general purpose kayak that I built at sixth form college; yellow, like the sea kayaks I'd used round icebergs in East Greenland as a "Young Explorer" on a BSES Expedition. Still do the odd multi day tour - kayak has plenty of space for camping kit (in roll-top storage bags). Also a member of a local canoe club with a clubhouse right on a river, where we can borrow boats for free to take upstream to meadows or down through city.
Unless you're determined to smash your boat on high grade white water, then fibreglass kayaks have a couple of advantages: (1) very cheap - people will even give them away, as most people prefer rotation moulded plastic kayaks these days, (2) lighter weight than plastic - a big advantage when getting a kayak onto a roof rack or high rack alone.

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