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Multi-day Canoe Trip UK

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 James Malloch 04 Sep 2020

We're looking at doing a 2-3 day Canoe trip in a few weeks time - our friend is an ex-instructor and fancies a trip whilst we've all got holidays booked.

Can anyone recommend somewhere in the UK where such a trip would be possible - ideally being able to hire canoe's locally so we can get an extra one rather than using his 3 person boat (and so we don't need to faff around getting roof-racks sorted). 

We would probably aim to camp unless there are some decent B&B's where we could moor up for the night. I'm not sure what's a bid day for Canoeing, but perhaps 5-6 hours of easy going riding* (*insert appropriate canoe term here) per day.  

We're in Cumbria and he's in Cambridge, so somewhere within 3-4 hours drive of each of us would be ideal but we're happy to head further afield if needed.

We plan to do some more research this weekend but thought it would be worth asking on here as well.


 mondite 04 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

The Wye can be done multi day and has various companies offering hire boats/suggestions on accomodation.

Tay might be on the far end of things but again has lots of multi day options. Although gets a bit more interesting technically.

 toad 04 Sep 2020
In reply to mondite:

Wye is the obvious one, but there are some options on the Broads - the only problem is some of the river/ Broads campsites shut at the end of September. There are even a couple of companies on the Trent that might come up with a interesting itinery

Also Loch Ken is worth a look. A campsite halfway down a nice flat loch/ river combination and in Dumfries/ Galloway so not highlands

Post edited at 16:52
 rj_townsend 04 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

The Severn from Shrewsbury could be worth a look. Browse canoe hire around Ironbridge - there are a few providers there who have multi-day options available, including pick-up service at the end of your trip.

 WVRox 04 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

The Great Glen is a good trip...

Not too much to go at really in England as far as I know  - maybe a canal trip?

 Doug 04 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

don't know about hire options but many years ago I did a 3 day trip by kayak down the upper /middle Thames. Techically very easy with portages around the locks. We 'wild' camped on the banks which might be more difficult than 40 years ago.

 toad 04 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

And it's worth trawling the song of the paddle forum for ideas

 garethtodd 04 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

I did a trip a few years ago with my brother. Starting at Inverness (it’s a hike north I know) where we hired touring kayaks and piled in all the camping gear. Headed down the canal and into Loch Ness. Got pretty much to the south shore and back wild camping on the way. Great trip.

Took 3 days going easy, lots of breaks taking in the sites. 

can dig up the details of the hire company if your interested. We literally took our camping gear and they did all the water gear. Think we paid about £100 each. 

 toad 04 Sep 2020
In reply to Doug:

SotP seems to suggest the lock keepers still accommodate wild campers on their islands, that trip is one I've got my eye on for next year. 

 Eric9Points 04 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

Some ideas here for some trips in the wilderness areas of the NW Highlands here: https://paddlerezine.com/2018/07/03/in-love-with-the-north-west-highlands/

Another trip that would take you into the middle of nowhere would be an exploration of Loch Langavat in Lewis. The loch covers almost the entire width of the island with many bays and islands to explore. If you don't know Lewis, check it out on a map.

 67hours 04 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

How about 3 days on the Grand Union Canal ;-)?


 Mal Grey 04 Sep 2020
In reply to Eric9Points:

Langavat has been on the radar for a while! Including a portage from the south first...


More than one canoe sounds sensible, it adds a safety margin. 5-6 hours is also sensible. Paddling is generally a "slow and steady" thing on sheltered water, but if the wind finds you it can be tough. I plan on 2 1/2 mph when solo and not pushing hard. 3-4mph tandem. Obviously a river with flow will be faster. 

Wind is your enemy in a canoe, bear that in mind with planning, sometimes you get "wind bound" on open water, less likely on rivers, but watch the levels.

The Wye is the obvious trip, and is really beautiful. Busy in season, but you'll be after the worst. Wild camping is probably frowned upon due to how busy it can be, so is sensitive. However the camp sites are generally excellent and very pleasant.

The Great Glen is an option, but the big lochs are very serious in wind, and autumn can be windy...a high failure rate at that time of year. There are other good trips in Scotland, (I'm heading up tomorrow!) but the weather can make it tough and wild lochs are not the best places for beginners when its windier than about 12-15mph (so a lot of the time!!!). The linked article includes some slightly smaller lochs too, which might be suitable. Hire that far from Inverness might cause problems though.

The Severn is like a slightly gentler Wye for a lot of the trip but has one harder rapid.

The Upper Thames (Lechlade to Oxford-ish) is surprisingly rural. Normally there are "lock camps" to choose from, but don't think they've re-opened yet. Wild camping should be possible done properly.

Song of the Paddle is the place to ask, or just look at the blogs section.

 slowmotion 04 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

Buy a waterways map and go explore! There's always something to discover along the water. There's some beautiful places along the kennet and avon, also the grand Union, and the wye. Caledonian canal is incredible. You could go all the way across and get a train back to the car. 

Maybe try to avoid a route with lots of locks as portaging with a lot of kit is a pain in the bum. Have fun!

 LastBoyScout 04 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

Thames has the Devizes-Westminster race.

Have a chat with Marsport in Reading - pretty sure they can help you arrange something and they hire kit:


In reply to James Malloch:

A detailed trip report would be great, please ?  Help take our minds off stuff. 

 dunnyg 04 Sep 2020
In reply to mick taylor:

I have looked into similar after doing some nice trips abroad, and the wye valley looked like the nicest option. Unless you miss the canal life.... Bonus points are you can do a bit of climbing along the way. Plenty of places renting out canoes (pre covid anyway). Enjoy!

Post edited at 23:37
In reply to James Malloch:

We did a trip down the Severn a few years ago and stayed overnight in Ironbridge, at the YHA, but several other options available. Hired all the boats and the company met us at start and end.

 James Malloch 10 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

Thank you for all the recommendations - we've been looking around at the different options and calling different hire places and we've decided on the Wye. Though we'll check forecasts next week and book something fairly last minute - we're all a bit wiped out so don't think we'll go for it unless the conditions are good.

The Tay looks great too which could be our next trip if this goes well. The Wye is a bit of a shorter drive though and, hopefully, will result in warmer temperatures than scotland too. 

I'll definitely do a bit of a trip report if the weather looks good enough for us to go ahead. 

Thanks again for the help!

 StuPoo2 10 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

Scottish Canoe Classics - Twenty Five Great Canoe & Kayak Trips Paperback – by Eddie Palmer


I'm sure there will be an English focused equivalent.

Descriptions, maps, put in points, references to campsites, B&B's etc ... and quite beautiful - enough so that you could leave it out as a coffee table book.

Heaps of psych just from flipping through it.  Recommend.

(Makes for a good birthday/xmas present)

Post edited at 10:55
 StuPoo2 10 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

Hah!  There is indeed an English focused book by the same author - 2 in fact!


 Baron Weasel 10 Sep 2020
In reply to James Malloch:

For my Gold DofE we canoed the swale, ure and ouse from Catterick to York over 4 days.

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