Like many of its neighbours on England’s southwest coast, Plymouth has, inevitably, a strong maritime presence. Add palm trees, countless tourist attractions and warm summer temperatures into the mix, and you have a recipe to attract scores of visitors. Watersports enthusiasts have the pick of the crop with rivers, countless coves and the broad sweep of Plymouth Sound.
The Sound, possibly one the world’s most stunning natural harbours, covers an area from Penlee Point in Cornwall to Wembury Point in Devon, a distance of around three nautical miles. Wembury, just along the coast from Plymouth, is a great spot for canoeing. Its wide bay and beautiful beach attracts more than 150,000 tourists every year. The Mew Stone – Wembury’s unique wedge-shaped guardian – is an ideal destination for an afternoon’s paddle.
For beginners or more experienced canoeists, Plymouth’s Mountbatten Watersports and Activities Centre is an ideal choice. Not only does the Centre provide elementary two-hour introductory sessions, but also guided tours around the city’s coastal waters. You’ll be in the capable hands of an experienced guide with extensive local knowledge.The Centre is equipped with first class facilities and also offers courses for those wishing to increase their skills to BCU level and beyond. For full details, visit www.mount-batten-centre.com.
The Watersports and Activities Centre is also home to the Port of Plymouth Canoeing Association, with wide-ranging activities throughout the year. Whether it’s taster sessions, recreational or more advanced, you’re certain to find something to suit. During winter months, the Association runs white water kayaking trips on a number of local rivers, as well as sea kayaking – weather permitting: www.ppca-canoe-club.org.uk has more details.
A little further along the coast is Newton Ferrers at the mouth of the River Yealm. This is an ideal spot for a paddle, whether upstream towards Puzlinch Bridge, or westwards along the coast towards Fort Bovisand. Because of the changing tides, and dependent on your skill level, it’s always best to plan your trip carefully. But whichever direction you choose, you’re promised a memorable journey.
Catering for groups of all ages is Canoe Adventures based on the River Dart. Their round trips last for up to five hours with full itinerary including barbecues and picnics. Although timings will vary, depending on tides, there really is something for everyone, day or night. For more information visit www.canoeadventures.co.uk or call 01803-865301.
With a wealth of experience behind them, Sea Kayak and SUP in Salcombe offers extensive courses irrespective of your ability. The area around Salcombe is not only stunning, but ideal to learn new skills, and they offer training designed to take you from complete beginner to BCU level one through five. If you’re a seasoned paddler, Sea Kayak and SUP also offer rental facilities including wetsuits and flotation aids.
With its temperate and oceanic climate, Plymouth and its surrounding coast couldn’t be better positioned for canoe and kayak enthusiasts. The sport is ideally suited to the environment – it leaves no carbon footprint and is great exercise into the bargain. Why not journey to the “English Riviera” and try it out for yourself.