The freedom to explore at sea is worth taking time to gain. There are lots of webresources to introduce kayaking equipment and skills, but there’s no substitute for talking to experienced and qualified kayak coaches and centres. These can be found throughout the UK and Ireland – not just on coasts – while there are companies in many coastal towns who can provide training, equipment hire, and beautiful seas to venture out on. Clearwater Paddling on the islands of Barra and Mull provide a particularly good combination of those things. Ireland has been particularly proactive in setting up coastal kayak trails.
Go Paddling: this website provides a list of paddling centres and hire centres, a database of 165 canoe and kayak trails, and lots of advice on keeping safe, keeping wildlife safe, and enjoying time on the water.
U Canoe: British Canoeing’s initiative to help get young people paddling canoes and kayaks.
Pesda Press: this publisher dominates the market for books about kayaking. Their catalogue includes general handbooks, guides to specific approaches or techniques, as well as wonderful route guides to each region of the UK.
Song of the Paddle: intended for those interested in canoeing rather than kayaking, but probably the most active and welcoming paddling forum in the UK.
UK Rivers Guidebook: a forum with a sea kayaking section, including lots of discussion of equipment and techniques.
Heading out to Sea:
Wilderness Scotland offer lots of advice online alongside their sea kayaking holiday packages.
It’s worth bearing in mind just how many approaches to kayaking there are when planning your adventure. Most of the links above will take you to providers of training sessions, day tours and multiday expeditions. But those who are in this for adrenaline will find plenty of other options, such as surf kayaking in Cornwall.
RNLI: the sea is inherently unpredictable and kayaking on it involves taking substantial risks. Accidents can happen to anyone, and there’s one organisation that has saved the lives of hundreds of kayakers as well as thousands of others who use the sea for work or leisure. Whether you’re planning to head out to sea or not, please consider making a donation to, or even volunteering for, the heroic Royal National Lifeboat Instutition.