With warmer weather approaching, kayaking is a great opportunity to be active outdoors with the whole family.
Kayaking is a great activity for families and children to do together. The health benefits of paddling include releasing the stresses of the week, or working your heart a little without overdoing it.
It can seem quite daunting with a lot of equipment needed, so where do you know where to start?
Here's our Top 5 Tips as written by regular contributor Natasha Sones.
Have a taster session or lesson to see if you like it. I recently attended the National Outdoor Expo in Birmingham in March 2022 and I had a go at kayaking on the beautiful Pendigo Lake. In a 30-minute free taster session there was a wide range of canoes and kayaks for people to have a go on. There was a team of professional coaches; three of the UK’s leading paddlesports coaches, Dan Wilkinson, Sarah Keight and Chris Brain, who were on hand to offer advice, assistance, and safety cover. They were all very helpful and we all enjoyed having a go on the lake in the beautiful sunshine. Try to find some local sessions at a lake, river or beach near you for your first lesson. British Canoeing has a list of clubs and access sites here.
Fairly obvious perhaps, but they can be an expensive outlay initially. You could spend a few hundred pounds on a beginner kayak or ranging to thousands for top of the range models. Keep a keen eye on ebay or marketplace as there are many now going up for sale daily and at pretty reasonable prices too. If storage is an issue, look into getting an inflatable version, which is great for space saving and easier to transport to some locations if you don't have a big car or van. You can also rent them from local activity centres if you want to try it a few times before getting really into the sport.
You will need a double-bladed paddle, a personal flotation device/life jacket and a dry bag to keep your important items in. If you're going into colder waters, a wetsuit is also a must and if you fall in, is more quick drying than baggier "normal" clothes and less likely to be too heavy once filled with water! It's also a good idea to take a mobile phone in a waterproof case with you and a warm change of clothes for after. We also find a thermos and some good snacks post session is essential to keep you going on the way home.
Groups such as those on Facebook based near where you live are great for people to share all things watersports related, such as trips, products, locations, questions, sales and so on as well as some second hand bargains. As well as an online group you might want to join a proper club too as canoe clubs can teach you new skills and are a great way of learning about new places to explore, and meeting like-minded paddlers.
Check the weather conditions and tide times. I always make sure I check the weather forecast and tide times before I set out - I use TideTimes.org.uk and the app Windy. I also recommend the app What3Words which lets you share your exact location – even if you’re in the middle of the sea or on a remote river.
Most of all... Have fun!
Natasha Sones is a regular contributor to Outside & Active
Check out her family outdoor adventure travel blog: www.natashasoneseditorial.com/blog