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Cornwall Marine Directory

Canoeing around Cornwall

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Canoeing is one of the easiest, cheapest paddlesand quickest ways to get on the water and enjoy the natural beauty of Cornwall. With more than 300 miles of coastline dotted with beaches, imposing sea cliffs creeks and headlands, you would be hard-pushed to find a county more suited to exploration by canoe.

Regular sheltered access points, with dozens of harbours and several large estuaries worthy of exploration combine to make Cornwall a top choice for paddling – either for day trips during a short break or for a longer journey along a winding estuary. Whatever your choice, the paddling here is fantastic with something to offer anyone who is fit enough to get into a boat.

As well as a spellbinding coastline this rugged peninsula boasts meandering rivers and quiet creeks from the Tamar to the Fal, the Fowey to the Camel – and no two are the same. The Tamar, which separates Cornwall from the rest of England, is a shining example with a number of picturesque tributaries to investigate along the course of a day’s paddle. For river canoeists, the upper reaches of this majestic river offer flat paddling punctuated by playfull weirs to keep the whitewater enthusiast happy but which can be walked around by any that don’t fancy it.

Many different craft come under the term “canoe” but it’s important if hiring or buying equipment that you understand your terminology – a kayak, for example, is specifically a closed-cockpit craft that will keep out water, even in waves. They have obvious advantages but some experience is required before going out on the water alone. Sea kayaks are the longer, ocean-going versions used for expeditions.

A “sit-on-top canoe” is just that – a highly bouyant craft normally made of plastic or foam while “open boats” or “Canadian style” boats are propelled by single-bladed paddles – either of these being more suitable for the less experienced leisure paddler. Whichever is your choice, canoeing is an ideal way of taking to the water in Cornwall regardless of whether you want to paddle to the beach for a barbecue or head out for a day’s on-the-water exercise.

There are many centres around the county offering canoe hire, sales and instruction as well as canoe clubs to help those who are interested in taking up the sport for more than just a holiday.

Cornwall is also the ancestral home to some of the world’s best surf kayakers thanks to the high quality of the local surfing beaches. If you go to north coast you will frequently find surf kayakers playing in the waves. This relatively unknown sport, sees canoeists pulling all sorts of moves and makes a great spectator sport. Cornwall’s Darren Bason, is the current world champion surf kayaker who has also won the British Open at Watergate Bay for four consecutive years.


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