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Paddleboarding on canals and rivers

Get involved with paddleboarding – also known as Stand Up Paddleboarding – one of the fastest growing water sports in the UK.

 

Get to know paddleboarding

The paddleboard is specially designed to be stood on with a fin at one end and a velcro strap to be attached onto the paddlers ankle. The paddler uses a paddle to move themselves through the water, taking strokes from one side of the board to the other.

Paddleboarding has become so popular in the UK because it’s easy to get started and fun for paddlers of all ages and abilities. It is a great way to explore the vast stretch of waterways that the UK offers, whilst exercising in the fresh air.

 

 

Top Tips Before You Go On The Water

1. Use a leash

Using a leash whether you’re a beginner or more experienced gives you a higher level of safety on the water. The leash should be as long as, or shorter than, the length of your board. 

2. Wear the right gear

Making sure you are wearing the right clothes is key before you get onto the water. It is important to wear clothes that you are comfortable wearing if they get wet and that won’t restrict your movement.   

3. Choose the right location for your skills level

Depending on your experience as a paddleboarder, you should choose a stretch of water that matches your ability. It‘s best to go out with an instructor or a group if you are a beginner along a past stretch or open water.  

4. Know what to do if you fall in 

To make sure you’re safe, it is best to practice what to do if you fall into the water with a instructor. This will give you reassurance and knowledge of what to do should you fall in.    

5. Check the wind direction the day you’re out

Whilst standing on a paddleboard it is much harder to take a stroke when the wind is particularly strong. If you are a beginner, check the wind strength and direction before your outing. Some waterways can be particularly exposed and harder for you to remain stable in a gust of wind. 

6. Know the rules of the waterways

When travelling along the rivers and canals stick to the right hand side and pass other boats port to port. Boats coming downstream on rivers have the right of way.

7. Learn the correct technique

Once you start paddling get onto your board via your knees. Once you have got your balance, stand up and engage your core.

Look straight ahead in the direction you’re going; don’t look at your feet as this will make you lose your balance.

Don’t grip your paddle handle too firmly as this will tire out your arms and doesn’t improve your paddling.

8. Looking after your paddleboard

Looking after your paddle board is an important part of the experience. Cleaning your board with fresh water after each outing will make sure you are getting rid of any salt or dirt on the fin and handle. It will also help prevent them from smelling and rusting over time.

It is best to buy a paddle board bag for your board. This will keep it free from scratches or marks when transporting it.

Frequently Asked Questions – Paddleboarding

Do I need a license to paddleboard on the waterways?

On most inland waterways you must register or license any boat, including small unpowered craft, with the navigation authority responsible for the waterway you intend to use. Navigation authorities typically offer licences for different time periods, often from as little as one day, through to a full year.

Membership of some canoeing, rowing and sailing organisations includes a licence for access to some waterways.

Do I need to take lessons before I go paddleboarding?

It is not essential that you take lessons before taking to the water. However, if you are new to paddleboarding it is a good idea to go out on the water with someone who has done it before.

Do I need to have been paddleboarding before I buy one myself?

It is always a good idea to try before you buy, especially if you wish to invest in a brand new paddleboard. It is worth hiring a paddleboard first to know you enjoy the activity, or finding a second hand board and paddle.

What are the benefits of paddleboarding?

Paddleboarding is a great way to meet new people, be outside in the fresh air, exercise and clear your mind.

What should I wear when paddleboarding?

Wear clothes that you are comfortable getting wet in and clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement. If you are a less confident swimmer we recommend wearing a life jacket whilst paddleboarding.

Where can I go paddleboarding in the UK?

You can take your paddleboard along canals, rivers and lakes in the UK. Inland waterways are calm and suited to beginners and those interested in leisurely paddleboarding. If you are a more experienced and confident paddleboarder, the UK has some beautiful coasts too.

Do you need a license to paddleboard in the UK?

On most inland waterways you must register or license a paddleboard with the navigation authority responsible for the waterway you intend to use. Navigation authorities typically offer licences for different time periods, often from as little as one day, through to a full year.
Membership of some canoeing, rowing and sailing organisations includes a licence for access to some waterways.

Can you paddleboard anywhere UK?

Almost all the waterways in the UK can be used for enjoyment by paddleboarders once you have a license. Cromford Canal and Bridgewater Canal do not accept paddleboarders on their waterways.

Find a waterway near you