First of all, let’s get the definitions out of the way.
A kayak is what most people picture when thinking of a canoe. It is a closed sitting area/cockpit in which the paddler will use a double-ended paddle.
A standard canoe is similar to a kayak, except that you kneel inside and use a single-ended paddle.
The open canoe is the more traditional type where there is usually more than one paddler using single-ended paddles.
Adrenalin rush or simply taking it easy
There’s no end to the kinds of activities in which you can take part in a canoe or kayak. You can crash down wild white water runs, surf the seas, hurl yourself down waterfalls, compete in slalom races and you can even play canoe polo.
Even if this all seems far too dangerous and physically demanding, there’s plenty on offer even for those who prefer more tranquil, relaxing leisure activities. It’s a great way to explore rivers and lakes and just take in nature. In fact, some enthusiasts will tell you that exploring nature by travelling in a canoe makes you really ‘connect’ with the environment around you and it brings you much closer to nature and wildlife.
Whatever style of canoeing you fancy, there is really no barrier in terms of age or fitness and it’s estimated that more than 2 million people take to the water in a canoe in Britain each year.
Joining a club
To really get to feel the part, one of the best ways to get involved is to join a local group or club. A club will be able to offer you advice and guidance on the various training courses available and will also enable you to be introduced to lots of people you can team up with and go on canoeing trips together. Mastering the basics doesn’t take long so you’ll soon find yourself heading out onto the open water and enjoying the life of a ‘paddler’ before you know it. You’ll also be able to sample the various forms of canoeing and find out which ones you like best.
Joining a club is also a good way to get to know if canoeing is really for you without having to shell out a lot of money beforehand. A full set of canoe kit can be fairly expensive so the best way is to try out lots of equipment before you buy. If you join a club, you’ll be able to borrow the essentials such as the boat, paddles, spraydeck and helmet which will give you the opportunity to try before you buy.
Canoeing clubs are located all over the UK and you’ll no doubt be surprised at the vast age ranges of their members, all who love taking to the water. You’ll be given expert tuition in flat water so that, once you’ve gained a certain degree of confidence and competence, you’ll be able to go on regular trips around the UK, choosing the kind of canoeing you prefer and being taken to the appropriate places or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you may wish to try out all the different codes of canoeing and kayaking.
Of course, once you’ve been ‘bitten’ by the canoeing or kayaking ‘bug’, strapping a canoe to your roof rack can add hours of pleasure to any camping trip.