London, the capital city of United Kingdom is known for its mesmerizing lakes, rivers for kayaking, museums, festivals, historical sites and, of course, kayaking on the banks of the river Thames. The great London has got ample lakes, magnificent rivers and reservoirs which makes it a perfect destination for kayaking, swimming, paddle boarding, boating, wakeboarding and carrying out a plethora of other watersport acitivtes and adventures.
London is not only suited for kayaking but also for touring and exploring the wilderness around, which makes it an even more perfect spot for paddlers and anglers to unwind. And if you love football, London has got you covered as well.
In the month of July, most Londoners prepare themself to tackle the heat of mighty summer. And the best way to beat the heat is by taking your kayak or paddle board out and gliding across the beautiful lakes and rivers of London.
So, if you are looking for an absolute beginner’s guide for kayaking in London, I have got your back covered.
In this beginner’s guide on London kayaking, you’ll come across what are the best places for kayaking in London, kayaking for rentals in London, is kayaking safely in London or not. What is the best time to visit London only for kayaking and so much more?
The guide is 5000+ words long and has been written by doing exceptional research on the web for months. So, get yourself a cup of coffee or tea and read this blog post till the end as it is going to be a roller coaster ride for you.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Is kayaking & canoeing safe in London?
Short answer: Of course, yes. Kayaking or canoeing in London is 100% safe and sound.
As long as you are equipped with relevant kayaking accessories and gears, you can kayak on any type of water body without fear of tipping off or slipping into the water. Of course, you also need to have the right type of kayak to make your experience hassle-free and memorable.
Kayaking in London, especially during the daytime is 100% safe in London. For night kayaking you might need to be extra cautious and carry all the safety accessories with you.
If you are already staying in London then you might be aware of the best places for kayaking and canoeing near you. However, if you are a tourist in London, you have got ample of public transportation options to take you at your ideal canoeing or kayaking location in London.
All the means of public transportation in London are safe and cheap. You’ll also notice local policemen guiding at regular intervals and checking here and there. So, if you feel anything fishy or you are confused, you can surely contact them anytime.
Women kayaking in London are also safe and can surely think of paddling around any lake or river with complete peace of mind.
Also, most of the lakes, rivers and other water bodies of London are calm and flatwater types. Even if you don’t know anything about kayaking or paddle boarding, you can still consider kayaking in London because of the calmness of the waterbodies over there. Of course, a few choppy waves and bumps might be regular but not an issue.
Here are a few safety tips you need to follow while kayaking in London, UK.
A. Never take a free ride for locals
B. Get your own kayak if possible
C. When out on the water, make sure you are completely accessorized and you have safety gear.
D. Don’t wear your headphones while heading towards your kayaking destination in London. This will keep you aware of your surroundings
E. Always plan your journey ahead of your time.
F. Make sure you know the London kayak map for lakes and rivers in & out.
G. Never go kayaking with an unknown person.
H. Be aware of the kayaking laws, rules and regulations in London.
J. Get the best watercraft for kayaking in London.
Why should you consider kayaking & canoeing in London?
Now that you have understood whether kayaking in London is safe or not. It is now important to understand why should you go kayaking or canoeing in London.
1. Too many options for kayaking
The very first reason why should be visiting London for kayaking is that there are too many lakes and rivers available for kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding. There are 26 main rivers in London including 20+ tributaries which makes it the perfect city for kayaking. The most famous one is the river Thames.
2. Enjoy river Thames
The river Thames is one of the most iconic kayaking spots in London and also the most visited element of London city. Paddlers, anglers and tourists across the globe come to London, especially to visit the river, Thames. There are also a number of kayaking rentals and stores available near the river Thames, making kayaking in London easier for you.
3. Wide range of accommodations
Are you a tourist coming to London for kayaking or canoeing? If yes, you might be worried about your stay and accommodation. Let me tell you that you don’t need to worry about your stay accommodation in London. There are ample of Hotels, hostels, Airbnb rooms and colleges that offer easy accommodations at cheaper costs.
4. Kayak rentals available
If you don’t have your kayak, no worries. You can still consider going kayaking or canoeing in London. There are too many kayak stores, shops and rentals in London at every relevant point, near the lake, river and beach side.
5. People are friendly and polite
If you are a tourist and still worried about kayaking in London, then let me tell you that people in London are very polite and welcoming towards all the tourists that come from across the world. Also, they are very helpful and would surely help you with anything that comes across your hurdle.
London kayaking map
Best places for kayaking in London
Here’s the part of this blog that covers the best rivers and lakes for kayaking and canoeing in London.
Lakes in London for kayaking
1. The Serpentine
Spreading across 40 acres in London’s Hyde Park, this is one of the best kayaking spots in London, UK. This is a 100% recreational lake in London driving its name from its snakelike, curving shape. The water in this lake is pumped from three boreholes within Hyde park.
There are many recreational facilities around the Serpentine which inlcudes boating, skating, paddle boarding, kayaking and lot more.
The lake was commissioned by Queen Caroline, wife to George II in the year 1730. In the recent years, it has become a popular kayaking place in London and for carrying out outdoor activities in the capital of the UK.
If you are not having your own kayak, no worries. You can also enjoy boating on this river. You can hire a boat for 6 people and enjoy your day on this tranquil lake that operates from 10 AM till sunset, which is around 6 PM. During the summer, you can enjoy surfing on this lake till 10 PM as well.
2. Saint James’s Park Lake
If you are hunting for some free canoeing places in London, St. Jame’s Park has got your back covered. This is one of the most oldest and royal parks in London that offers ample kayaking opportunities, sightseeing and recreational activities as well.
Although this is a small-sized park, it does offer a stunning kayaking experience for sure. All thanks to its flatwater water type lake and ponds that offer paddlers immense opportunity to get their hands wet. Since the water on the lake is calm, beginners, kids, newbies and teens can also consider kayaking in this region.
For those who are not kayaking enthusiasts, don’t worry. This park has also got stunning flowerbeds, open garden spaces, lush green plants and trees and more than 15 species of birds to look for. For wildlife photographers, this park has got ample animals including squirrels, water ducks, swans, woodpeckers, owls and a lot more.
Guess what? There are also two islands located inside St Jame’s Park. The West Island and the Duck Island, where you’ll come across cute little water ducks. Through this island, you’ll also get picturesque views of the London Eye and Big Ben.
3. Ruislip Lido
This lake is technically a reservoir located towards the north of the London Suburb of Ruislip in the London Borough Of Hillingdon. It features splendid walking pathways, a miniature railway for kids and teens, a pub, several picnic spots, a children’s playground, a cafe and of course a beach for kayaking.
The best spot for kayaking here is Ruislip Lido Beach. That’s because it is the only beach in London you can get to by kayak, canoe, boat or tube. Apart from recreational kayaking, you can also try fly fishing or bass fishing across Ruislip Lido Beach. This beach is home to bass fish, trout fish, salmon, and lot many more.
If you want to carry out fishing adventures on this beach, you must have a National Rod License. Also, you are not allowed BBQs or fires on the banks of the beach and boats must not be used.
Overall, this is a great lake that will offer you ample of waterport activities to carry out.
4. Beech Hill Lake
Beech Hill Pond is yet another popular destination for kayaking in London which is located near Route 180 near Ellsworth. The pond is suited for flatwater kayaking and fishing. There is also a public boat landing built for the paddlers convenience, allowing them to easily launch their kayak. Since the pond is excellent habitat for coldwater sportfishes, especially lake trout, you can also try your hands at fishing on this lake.
5. South Norwood Lake
South Norwood Lake and Grounds is one of the largest lakes in the London Borough Of Croydon. Besides a large lake for kayaking, South Norwood also consists of lush green trees and plants, a tennis and basketball court, recreational areas, football and golf pitches, a cricket pitch, a small playground for kids and a trim trail.
The lake is also open for fishing with reasonable restrictions, allowing anglers to get the best catches and enjoy kayaking at the same time. carp, bream and perch among others are the aquatic animals that you can catch over here. Besides, the lake is also home to a wide range of birds and animals like great crested grebes, herons and high-necked parakeets.
The environment around the lake is very calm and pleasing. The water is flat and less choppy, allowing you to paddle with confidence and enjoy kayaking without fear of tipping off into the water.
6. Connaught Water
Connaught Water is a large lake for kayaking in London and is situated on the outskirts of Epping Forest. There is car parking available near the lakeside, so you can bring your large kayaks with the help or a cart, rack or trailer without getting them damaged. Apart from parking, there are no additional facilities available near the lake, which is its major drawback. However, there are a few other facilities like cafes and pubs.
Many species of waterfowl inhabit the lake, and there are good photo opportunities. The perimeter path gets quite muddy during prolonged wet weather, so don’t wear your best shoes!
7. Regent’s Park
Named after Prince Regent, this park is a great combination of large open spaces, green trees lined with pathways for walking and cycling, formal gardens, playgrounds for kids and excellent sports facilities that makes it the perfect place for kayaking in London.
Not to miss attraction point over here is Avenue Gardens where you can find more than 2000+ roses. You can also hire a boat for rowing and join the ducks for the amazing sailing session.
The park is also home to a wide range of wildlife animals. You’ll find 100 species of wild birds and a breeding population of hedgehogs
8. Greenwich Park Boating Pond
Do you want to enjoy seeing London’s most iconic views while kayaking? If yes, look no further than Greenwich park, which is home to London’s most beautiful locations and views. This park is a mixture of 17th-century artwork, landscapes, gardens and rich history that reflects British Culture and living.
The Pavillion Cafe, the rose garden, Greenwich playground, and the Royal Observatory are some of the other places you can enjoy if not here for kayaking or canoeing in London.
The remains open throughout the year and recently it was listed as grade I on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. In the year 2020, it was also awarded the National Lottery grant to restore its historic features.
It is built in a rectangular shape with wides 1000 meters by 750 meters and oriented with the long sides lying NNW to SSE. In what follows this direction is taken to be N to S for ease of exposition.
9. St James’s Park
James’s Park is one of the oldest royal park in London which is widely famous for its charming parkland and boarded by the famous Buckingham Palace to the west. The park spreads across 23 hectares of land and was purchased by Henry VIII in 1532. Later Charles II decided to redesign the park and make it more versatile, charming and beautiful.
There is a pond located within the park where you can kayak, paddleboard or canoe with peace of mind by enjoying the breathtaking views o the queen’s residence. To enjoy every bit of scenery and wildlife, you can visit Changing of the Guard.
10. Alexandra Palace Boating Lake
Located at the southernmost tip of the James area, Alexandra Palace Boating is bounded by the world-famous Buckingham Palace to its west and Mall to the north. It has a horse garden to the east and got Birdcage walk to the south, making it one of the most iconic spots for kayaking in London, the UK or England.
The park is backed by a small size lake making it suited for kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and wakeboarding. This park remains throughout the year and is one of the best spots for camping and picnicking with friends and family.
Rivers in London for kayaking
Now that you have got an overview of London’s best lake for kayaking. Let us now look at some of the iconic river basins for kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing in London, UK.
1. Seven Sisters Country Park
If you personally ask me which is the best place for kayaking in London, I would say it’s Seven Sisters, Sussex. This is a series of sea cliffs in London and a popular location for national and international travelers who visit this place to experience the stunning coastline between Seaford and Eastbourne.
Cycling, accessible trails, hiking and camping along with kayaking are some of the activities that you can carry out in this region easily-peasy. There are parking spots, toilets, restrooms, cafes, restaurants, kayaking rentals, bike rentals and lot more recreational facilities that make it a perfect touring spot in London.
For kayaking and paddling in this region, you have got Buzz Active Cucmere with well-qualified kayaking and paddle boarding instructors who will help you out with any water sport activity in this region.
If you don’t have your own kayak, Buzz Active has got your back covered with their range of canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and other gear. You can hire them on an hourly basis and enjoy a stunning ride on the water.
2. Brighton, East Sussex
If you like to venture further beyond the cost of London, Brighton is a perfect place to be at. This is a seaside resort and the best place for kayaking in the UK. You can simply carry out some recreational activity in this region or catch some rays on your tandem kayak or with the help of a fishing pontoon boat.
Brighton has a vast beach of 5.4 miles which makes it a perfect spot for kayaking and carrying out other water sports activites.
Apart from kayaking, this region has got a mixture of modern culture and exotic architecture which also make it a must-visit for non-kayakers and other tourists.
According to the Brighton and Hove figures, millions of visitors and tourists visit this place every year and millions stayed overnight which shows this destination has much more to offer than just beaches and kayaking.
3. Birling Gap, East Sussex
Now here comes another famous spot for kayaking in London which is Birling Gap. This gap is part of Seven Sisters and one of the most beautiful locations in East Sussex where the south downs meet the seat. Because of its chalk-white cliffs and beaches, this place is ideal for kayaking or canoeing in London.
This place also has a lovely cafe and car parking area so that you can carry and transport your kayak with peace of mind.
If you are not here for kayaking, Birling Gap and Seven Sisters is also a wonderful palace to explore on foot and do sightseeing of the wonderful coastline and beautiful South Downs.
If you are tired by kayaking or walking down the Birling Gap, you can pay a visit to The Birling Gap cafe, which is the place to sit, relax and enjoy the wonderful views along the Seven Sisters and over the English Channel. This cafe is owned by a national trust and offers some mouth-watering cakes, baked items and food as well.
4. Margate, Kent
If you are still looking for full-stack kayaking in England, then you must visit Margate which is a beachside resort located at the edge of the Garden of England. From old-school holiday town charm, a world-class art gallery, kayaking rentals in London, sandy beaches, cool cafes and retro shops – The Margate is waiting to welcome you for awesome kayaking or canoeing in the UK.
The climate of this region is an oceanic climate similar to that of the UK. The temperature throughout the year is mild and moderate with a high amount of sunshine. Rainfall is low, so that water on the beach side is flat and less choppy in nature.
5. Whitstable, Kent
Eating fresh seafood on the bay, kayaking on the beachside and taking long walks with your partner is something that you’ll experience at Whistable, a charming fishing community that graces the northern Kent cost. While kayaking in this region, the Harbour Market is a must-visit place over here.
This small open-air market can be visited by a pontoon boat or a simple foldable kayak whichever you feel works best for you. Most of the shops located here offer fishing gear and accessories. During summer, you can experience food and live music as well.
For kayaking, Tankerton beach is one of the best in this region and also a popular attraction at Whistable. The sandy bunch is also loaded with rock pools, making it suited for kids to play and spot marine creatures like crabs.
6. West Wittering, West Sussex
Offering you stunning views of Chichester Harbour and South Downs Beyond, the sandy beach of West Wittering is a perfect spot for kayaking in London, UK. This highest water quality and excellent facilities make this spot premier Blue Flag beach in the country.
Open water swimming, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, wakeboarding and all sorts of water sports activities are allowed in this region.
This area is generally dominated by fast-moving river rapids and whitewater. So, before planning for kayaking or any kind of water sports adventure, make sure you be equipped with proper kayaking accessories and safety gear.
7. Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Southend-on-Sea has got the world’s longest pleasure pier, built in the year 1830 with a total of 2.16 km long from shore. This place has also got Kursaal theme park which is made for recreational activities, hiking, camping, walking trails, relaxing and a lot more. Also, Adventure Island is must visit over here, especially if you want to enjoy a great sunset view with your kayak.
Apart from kayaking or canoeing in London, there are ample of options on Southend On Sea for shopping, staycation, trying local street foods, birding and watching some famous tourist attractions.
8. Camber Sands, East Sussex
Camber Sands, East Sussex is a complete beach village in the UK, making it a perfect spot for kayaking or canoeing in London. It is 3 miles long and has excellent surroundings and viewpoints to take your kayaking session next level. The beach is popular for kitesurfing, landboarding and kite buggying due to the stunning wind conditions there. Of course, you try other water sport activities as well.
There is also an annual professional darts tournament held at the Points resort which is also a must-visit spot for thrill and adventure.
Cost of kayaking in London
The cost of kayaking in London is anywhere between $100 to $500 per hour, provided that you are bringing your own kayak or canoe along with you. In case, you are not having your own kayak and thinking of kayak renting then the cost would surely go up and you might end up paying $1000 to $2000 for a whole day of kayaking and canoeing in London.
Kayaking rentals near London
Here are the best places where you can find kayaking rentals in London
1. Moo Canoes
Accessories you need for kayaking in London
1. Best Kayak
The very first thing that you need for kayaking in London is a stunning kayak that will take your kayaking experience next level. If you already own an inflatable kayak that is exceptionally well. You can stuff it inside the carry backpack and bring it along with you. Also, carry and transportation will become hassle-free for you.
In case, you own a hardshell or rigid kayak then you might need a kayaking cart or trailer to carry and transport your watercraft from one place to another. Also, this is only applicable when you are living in London.
What if you are touring?
You need to rent a kayak in London from any store or rental shop near me. You can opt for a fishing kayak if you are looking for a perfect angling experience or a tandem kayak if you are with your friends, family and partner.
2. Life jacket
When going out kayaking and canoeing in London, your first priority should be safety. Without this, you cannot think of enjoying an awesome ride with confidence. Of course, there are 100+ different types of kayak life safety jackets available in the market.
Therefore, you should always choose a life jacket that is approved by US Coastal Guards, international standards, European standards or commercial standards. Apart from these certifications, you also need to look at the overall fitting of your jacket.
Generally, a life jacket for kayaking should be lightweight, easy to fit and should give you comfortable paddling and rowing experience. Also, make sure that your life jacket is made with durable and hard construction material, making it long serving in life.
If you are planning for a long-distance kayaking experience in London, then you shouldn’t miss out on food supplies and beverages. If you think that you can survive on the water without food and supplies – think again. There is a wide range of kayaking coolers available in the market that will allow you to stuff your food and drinks and keep them fresh for your long-distance ride.
Buy a kayak cooler that is lightweight, compact and gets easily stuffed inside your kayak cockpit or on the deck if you have got a stand-up fishing kayak. Also, your cooler must have a carry handle, a perfect insulation system and be built with durable construction material.
4. Dry bag
If going anywhere on the water without your favourite digital device or cell phone makes you cringe buy a kayak dry storage bag and carry all your accessories, gear and extras with confidence and without worrying about getting them damaged with a splash of water.
Of course, without having a proper backpack stuffed with your kayaking gear and essentials, you cannot think of going kayaking in London. In the backpack, you can carry your small-sized gear like sunglasses, kayaking hat, kayaking fish or depth finder, light, knife and loads of essentials.
When planning a kayak or canoe trip in London most of kayakers and paddlers carry all the relevant paddling essentials. However, they overlook the importance of kayaking sunglasses. This is an essential kayak gear that will keep your eye protected from UV rays, fast-blowing wind and from the splash of water if you are kayaking on river rapids.
Therefore, make sure that you are equipped with the perfect kayak sunglasses to enjoy hassle-free canoeing in London.
The next important gear while kayaking, canoeing or boating in London is a waterproof speaker. I am pretty much sure that you might get tired in the middle of your kayaking or paddling journey. Hence, you need something to unwind and make up your mood in the middle of the water. And nothing beats the ability of good music to take your energy next level and refresh your mind.
If you are going canoeing or boating in London for the first time, you might not be aware of the map and directions very well. That’s why you must be equipped with a local kayak map that clearly depicts the places and locations for your safety and smooth kayaking experience.
9. GPS system
Kayaking, canoeing or boating in London is not just gliding on calm water types and enjoying a leisurely paddle. It is something more than that because with the right kayak you can explore the unexplored and paddle out to a remote location on the coastline of London. You can head upstream or go downstream and see the beautiful lakeside, beaches, rivers and calm water.
That’s what true kayaking and canoeing in London, UK, is all about.
But in order you ensure safety and hassle-free navigation, you must have a kayak GPS system, especially if you are a tourist kayaker in UK. A GPS system will allow you to track and navigate smoothly without fear of getting lost in the middle of the waterways.
If you are an adventure kayaker in London who loves to explore tight spots and unexplored locations on water, a GPS and waterproof kayaking watch is a must-have accessory for you. This gear will not only give you a safe paddling experience but also comes with health benefits like tracking for performance, calories burned while kayaking and more.
All you have to do is to ensure that you choose a perfect GPS watch that will show you time, track your health and also can be used as GPS or navigation system.
11. Fish Finder
If you are planning a kayak fishing adventure in London, you also need a fish finder or depth finder that will allow you to locate the fish and let them know about the depth of water.
FAQs About Kayaking And Canoeing In London
When you are using your own kayak, you must be aware of restrictions and licenses required at specific locations. In London, you can paddle anywhere in a non-tidal location with a British canoe union license or license from the local environmental agency. For kayaking in the Thames, you must join a locally guided tour because of the tide and busy shipping lanes.
Yes, you can also paddle boarding in London at night without worrying about any accidents. For London at night, you need to make sure you are equipped with the latest kayaking gear, gadgets and tools which include light, GPS system, depth finder, wireless cell phone and safety jacket.
Yes, kayaking is 100% legal in London. You can kayak anywhere by taking relevant permission from the local authorities. Some places allow free kayaking, while some are paid.
There are a variety of lakes, rivers, seas and beaches available in London for kayaking. However, some areas might require a specific skill, or license and some areas may be free to kayak or canoe anywhere in London. Canals and inland rivers are also great spots for kayaking in London, UK.