Explore off-shore islands and lesser-known waters that only local paddlers know about by kayaking away from the crowds. Excited about outdoor activities in the weekends, but looking for more kayaking sports? There are six grades of rivers, from 1 (calm) to 6 (turbulent). You must have a license from the British Canoe Union (BCU) or a permit from the local waterway to paddle them.
In that context, there is no grade system or restriction in sea kayaking, but being familiar with local conditions is important. Below is a comprehensive list of ideal spots for kayaking in UK.
- Armathwaite to Wetheral Weir, Lower Eden (Cumbria)
The river has low-grade river rapids and is classified as having grade 2 river rapids, making it suitable for adventurous beginners. There’s a slower section below for novices if you’re not ready for grade 2/3 whitewater on the classic Eden River stretch from Lazonby to Armathwaite. You will pass Corby Castle and a man-made waterfall along the way from Armathwaite to Weatherall Weir.
- Fordwich to Pluck’s Gutter, River Stour (Kent)
As a grade 1 river, this is an ideal river for complete beginners. There’s no rapids or drops on this delightful stretch of the Stour, so it’s a gentler introduction to river touring for those who find whitewater and offshore exploring too challenging. Fordwich (Britain’s smallest town) is the starting point for this paddle. Pluck’s Gutter lies downstream, past a nature reserve that hosts rare birdlife. There are picnic areas, pubs, and easy parking. It doesn’t get better than that.
- Port Isaac Bay, North Cornwall
Beginner and intermediate kayakers alike will enjoy this 4km sea kayak adventure.
People rarely get to see this corner of Cornwall from the sea. Paddling from Port Gaverne across Port Issac to the beach at Varley Sands is one of our favourite routes – it’s only accessible by boat or kayak at low tide, and there’s a good chance that it’ll be all to yourself. Conditions vary enormously depending on swell, sea state, and weather, so go only when conditions are calm. There are parking lots at Port Gaverne and Port Isaac. You’ll find restaurants and cafes there as well.
- Black Moss Pot to Stonethwaite, Langstrath Beck (Lake District)
This grade 4 walk-in creek paddle is suitable for confident intermediate paddlers.
Located in Cumbria, Langstrath Beck can be a little piece of Valsesia when it runs after heavy rain. Water levels can fluctuate quickly, but when the weather is good, it’s simply incredible. At its best, this river offers two steep sections of grade 4 paddling, with tight drops and rapids as well as stunning views of Borrowdale on the way back to Stonethwaite and The Langstrath Inn at the end. You can access Black Moss Pot by walking from Stonethwaite Campsite.
- River Findhorn, Highlands, Moray (Scotland)
It’s a river suitable for intermediate to advanced kayakers and one of the best in Scotland. This is a real remote experience with stunning scenery that’s well known to locals but seldom visited by tourists. The top of Findhorn is a grade 3 that finishes at the grade 4 Dulsie rapid, while Middle Findhorn are grades 2/3; and Lower (Findhorn Gorge) should only be paddled by those who are proficient at grades 5 and 6. There is a cafe at Logie Steadings as well as facilities. You should also consider the Summer Isles if you are interested in sea kayaking in the Highlands.
- Penmeanpool to Barmouth, Mawddach Estuary (Wales)
As a technical tidal estuary trip, it is suitable for competent and confident travellers.
There is an incredible view of Cadair Idris and the Rhinogs on this trip through southwestern Snowdonia. During high tide, paddle towards Barmouth from Penmaen Pool. Taking the northern side of the bridge is tricky, so be careful. When a westerly wind blows, waves can build, but there are no rapids. Because of the strong tidal currents, it’s technically a grade 2 river, but the journey is largely on flat, slow-moving water near Penmeanpool and Barmouth (many facilities).
- Cowshill to Daddry Shield, Upper Wear (County Durham)
It is suitable for kayakers with experience and has a varied grade 4-5 paddle. It’s a rare run with challenging features and continuous paddling. It begins with a waterfall measuring six meters high. Cowshill is the place to start if you want to go whitewater rafting. With its drops, undercuts, and stoppers, this limestone river is paddle-able all the way through and has a consistent gradient. It’s a grade 3 and 4 river, but below Daddry Shield it widens to an easier grade 2/3. Parking is restricted and there are cafes in Stanhope and Wolsingham.
It is important to ensure your own safety at all times other than having a great kayaking experience. For this purpose, we recommend knowing your own level when it comes to kayaking. This refers to whether you are a beginner, have the skill level of an intermediate or professional. Therefore it is recommended that you kayak in rivers that have rapids of a grading that is most suitable to your own skill level. Staying safe is always a priority and Beyonk connects you to your ideal kayaking experience, whether you are a novice or expert.