Canoeing on the River Thames
Canoeing and kayaking are very similar sports and great ways to explore the River Thames. Take a picnic or stop off at one of the riverside pubs such as The Plough Inn, Long Wittenham or a boat house turned into a Boat House Deli & Café.
Escape daily life and enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the River Thames, or take a new view of the iconic images of London and Windsor.
The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race starts in Devizes, Wiltshire, finishing just downstream of Westminster Bridge in central London, opposite the Houses of Parliament. The race has been held annually over the Easter Weekend since 1948. Entries to compete must be received by Friday 11th March 2016.
What’s the difference?
Canoeing is a paddle sport where you kneel or sit facing forward in an open or closed-decked canoe, and propel yourself forward with a single-bladed paddle under your own power.
Kayakers sit in canoe-like boats facing forward, legs in front, and use a double-bladed paddle to pull front-to-back on one side and then the other.
You can canoe as an individual, a family or join a club. Hire a canoe for a few hours, a day or longer. If you’re interested in finding out more about canoeing, take a look at the useful information below.
Henley Canoe Hire offer Day Hire, 2 Day Hire and bespoke packages. It’s safe for families and ideal for paddlers of all levels. They offer packages where they will meet you at the station and you can paddle to another station along the Thames. Discover the Thames by Kayak from the river in Windsor and London with London Kayak Tours.
How do I get started?
First of all, you must be able to swim. If you can swim, the best way to get started in canoeing is to join a club. Visit the British Canoe Union website for a full list.
How much does it cost?
Club subscriptions vary greatly – please contact your local club for details.
Many clubs and companies offer hire canoes of different types - inclusive of licence, paddle and other equipment. If you want to buy your own canoe there is a wide range available. You will also need a paddle, buoyancy aid, and possibly a spraydeck.
Can I get lessons?
Some clubs provide basic training free of charge but other clubs may charge. One to one or group training is also available.
Can I do this as a family?
Canoeing is a great family activity. Many clubs cater for families and you can choose from single, two and up to four-seater canoes and kayaks.
Can I canoe if I have a disability?
There are many clubs based on the River Thames for people with disabilities. We recommend you visit the British Canoe Union website for more information and a list of suitable clubs.
I already have a boat – can I just go out on my own?
If you own a canoe, once you have registered it, you can take it anywhere on the River Thames. To find out more information on how to register, see the Environment Agency website. Kayaking is great fun too.