Paddling a Canadian canoe on Coniston Water copyright Dave Willis

Canoeing kayaking and paddleboarding

The Lake District provides fantastic opportunities to take to the water in a canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Beginners can have a go, guided by experts. Once you are more confident, create your own adventure exploring the many islands, beautiful rivers and stunning coastline.

See our guide to which activities you can do on which lakes to see where you can go kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding in the Lake District.

Paddleboarding safely

Whether you're a sit-down or stand-up paddleboarder, take a few moments to prepare for a safe and fun experience on the lakes by watching this short paddle boarding video.

You can hire equipment from outdoor centres around Coniston, Derwentwater, Ullswater and Windermere.

Hire canoes, kayaks and paddleboards

Stay safe on the water

Before heading out onto the water, take a look at our lake rangers' short water safety videos.

Whilst the water can look tempting on a calm summer's day, the Lake District weather can easily change. You should always be aware of the weather and its impact on the water. Check out the local Weatherline forecast.

Canoeing guides

Maps of Lakes for water users:

What’s the difference between a kayak and a canoe?

The term canoe is often used to refer to both canoes and kayaks.

Canadian canoe

Usually an open boat which can accommodate more than one person (either in a sitting or kneeling position) and is propelled by a paddle with a blade only at one end.

Historically canoes were used by indigenous Canadians to transport people and goods on the lakes and rivers.


This is a covered craft designed for one person which is propelled with a double ended paddle.

A kayak was an Inuit fishing craft used on the sea and paddled with a long harpoon.

Help native wildlife

Invasive non-native species of wildlife can hitchhike on equipment, footwear, clothing and boats. You may inadvertently spread the aliens even if you just go for a paddle! Every time you leave any water such as a river, tarn or lake:

Check - Clean - Dry

Stop the spread of invasive aquatic species logo

  • Check your equipment and clothing for living organisms. Pay particular attention to damp or hard to inspect areas.
  • Clean and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them or on a hard surface to die out.
  • Dry all equipment and clothing. Some species can live for many days in damp conditions.

Check, Clean and Dry guides for different water users

Or check out Biosecurity for boat and kayak users