Canoes in the Lake District

Visited by more than 12 million tourists annually, the Lake District is England’s largest National Park. Designated since the early 50s, Scafell Pike, its highest peak and Westwater, its deepest lake, are just two reasons why visitors keep returning. And there are plenty more.

Coniston Water

You can walk for miles, with a guide or without. Head for the hills and fells or around the lakes, the choices are yours. Mobility and ability are not crucial either as there are plenty of easy routes to follow. You’ll find the scenery stunning. But if getting on the water tops your list, the Lake District is the ideal place.

There are many outdoor centres around Ullswater, Windermere, Derwentwater and Coniston Lakes which hire out canoes. If you’re a complete novice, there’s expert tuition available. Head for Brockhole on Lake Windermere for guidance in the basics. They cater for age groups from seven years upwards, though there is tuition available for families with younger children. Prices start from £7 per person and advanced booking is recommended. Call the visitor centre at 0845-272-0004 for details.

Coniston Boating Centre hires out open-top Canadian styled canoes. These will sit two to three people, and what a way to see the National Park’s third largest lake. Prices from £15 for a 2-hour paddle is great value for money. Keep a look out for the Old Man of Coniston to the northwest. It rises for well more than 2,000 feet and is ideal for the odd hike or two. For booking details, call 01539-441366.

Glenridding Sailing Centre on the southern end of Ullswater will hire out open-top canoes for up to a week. This should give you ample opportunity to explore this stunning eight-mile long lake. The surrounding scenery is unforgettable, but keep track of the changing weather. Keeping safe is paramount and flotation jackets are needed at all times. Call for more information at 01768-482541.

Being based on the shores of England’s largest natural lake has its advantages. This is where Windermere Canoe Kayak is fortunate. Not only do they have their own sponsored island – Thompson Holme – but are in one of the most picturesque spots in Cumbria. Ability and age is not important. Their canoes range in size from one person to a full family, and whether hiring, going on a guided tour or being taught the basics, Windermere Canoe Kayak has a package to suit. Call them at 01539-444451 for more information.

Scenery and wildlife go hand in hand on Derwentwater, and the marina, near Keswick, is a great place to start. They offer full family canoeing packages for up to 3 hours, as well as introductory and advanced sessions. For the more adventurous, try a paddle on the River Derwent with its small gorge – the Jaws of Borrowdale. Whatever your preference, Derwentwater was almost made for paddling. For full details, call Derwentwater Marina on 01768-772912.

Its wildlife, its scenery, heritage and history, the Lake District caters for all. Book your stay in a quaint cottage, a campsite, camping barn or B&B, the welcome will be warm. It’s known as a unique part of England, so why not visit and find out why.

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