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Where to Paddle


Licences to paddle

BCU membership includes a licence to paddle on 5000km of Britain's navigations and canals and also third party liability insurance of up to £10 million.  Membership also includes discounts with carefully selected suppliers, six editions of Canoe Focus magazine, a yearly directory and access to information, resources, courses and competitions. For more information visit your national association.

Where to paddle in Britain
Please click here to read '100 Paddles in England' as published by the BCU

The British Isles are made for canoeing - there is a wonderful variety of water to choose from. Inland, the canals, rivers and lakes offer simple touring on placid water, through to challenging white water descents.

Not all inland water is open to canoeists, some is privately owned or is bounded by land which is private. The British Canoe Union has an Access Officer in each region who can advise you about local canoeing waters.

The coastline of Britain provides superb canoeing water, some of which is remote with spectacular scenery. Coastal canoeing in all but enclosed, sheltered sites demands knowledge and skill.

Experienced canoeists are always keen to help beginners develop themselves, but you are strongly advised not to embark upon any coastal cruise or whitewater river trip without adequate personal ability, training and knowledge.

    There are several thousand miles of canals
    These ‘water highways’ offer safe touring
    A licence is needed – included with BCU membership for all 2,000 miles of British Waterways canals

    Surf beaches, off shore islands, sea cliffs
    Seek expert guidance before going afloat
    Courses available around the country

Rivers and Lakes
    Upland rivers offer white water
    Lowland rivers, lakes and lochs offer interesting touring
    Many lowland rivers require a licence – BCU membership includes a licence for British Waterways rivers 
    and canals and Environment Agency waters.
    Some of the best whitewater rivers have a voluntary access agreement where the landowner has 
    agreed to let canoeists paddle, however many do not. Check first with the local BCU Access Officer, 
    local paddlers and/or up-to-date guidebooks.
    BCU Access Officers can give help on where to get on and off the water.

    1. BCU approved clubs
    2. BCU approved centres
    3. Schools, school club links
    4. Scouts & Guides & other uniformed groups (cadets, sea cadets, air cadets, army cadets, clubs for 
        young people)

Canoe trails
Lakes - Bewl water, Carsington, Grafham among others

Canolfan Tryweryn - National Whitewater centre
Rivers - Dee, Tryweryn, Wye - contact WCA for access information.


River Tey, Grand Tully (Scotland)

Northern Ireland
Visit Northern Ireland's definitive guide of where to paddle
Lough Erne canoe trail

Please Click Here to find out where to paddle in Europe

White Water Facilities 

Lee Valley White Water Centre
Nene Whitewater centre
National Watersports Centre, Nottingham River Washburn, North Yorkshire

The UK offers a fantastic resource for canoeing, with excellent rivers, rugged and scenic coastlines and plenty of lakes.