There are few things that can offer the sense of freedom that a journey by sea kayak can! Gliding along mirror-flat water looking at the abundance of seabirds, or crashing through the waves on a challenging open crossing sea kayaking has something to offer everyone. We’ve picked out six classic areas, but we do all live on an island there is great sea paddling to be had all around the UK’s coastline… wherever you can find a spot to launch your sea kayak.
The Outer Hebrides
Never mind the UK this is in the top ten sea kayaking destinations in the world, without question. The 150 mile-long island chain that is the Outer Hebrides stands off the North West coast of Scotland and offers visitors culture, history, beauty, peace and adventure in equal measure. Miles of unspoilt white sandy beaches, rugged mountains, world famous archaeological sites and their fair share of hearty Scottish food and heart-warming whisky.
For sea kayakers, they offer rare opportunities to see, up close and personal, some of the UK’s most mysterious of inhabitants, whales, dolphins, seals and otters. Add to the mix the diverse seabird population, which includes puffins and white-tailed sea eagles amongst a host of others. The Outer Hebrides are ideal for sea kayaking adventures, it’s almost as if they’ve been made just for us, and there’s a wide range of sea kayaking trips available, from scenic pleasant paddles to committing crossings, all set in an outstanding natural environment. Crystal clear blue water and white sandy beaches will inspire your paddling and revive your Soul
Knoydart and the Small Isles
Scotland is blessed with an abundance of amazing wild and wonderful coast that it was hard not to fill this list with just Scottish gems. Knoydart is situated in the Western Highlands and, although part of the mainland, still has an island feel about it. It is a mountainous peninsula, sandwiched between two beautiful lochs, Loch Nevis and Loch Hourn. Its coastline offers a wealth of trips to the sea kayaker and there are plenty of opportunities for wild camping. Heading South West across the water to the Isle of Eigg. The rocky An Sgurr, composed of volcanic pitchstone, which gives the island its distinctive profile, dominates its southern end. The rugged coastline provides no sheltered anchorage, but a new pier has greatly improved access. Muck lies a few miles to the south-west of Eigg, and is a small, low-lying island, exposed to the Atlantic swells. Head north and you’ll come to Rum, the largest and most mountainous island in the group. Canna lies to the North West. And the whole region is home to many seabirds and marine vertebrates such as whales, dolphins and the plankton- feeding basking sharks.
It’s no surprise that this little island is a real hot-bed of UK sea kayaking, it’s coastline can offer excitement to the hardened of salty sea dogs, but it can equally entice the beginner to the charms of a sea kayak and the arms of the ocean. The circumnavigation of Anglesey is a classic sea kayaking expedition. The fast tidal streams of the Menai Straits separate Anglesey and the mainland. People have been known to complete the 90-mile route in less than twenty-four hours. For those looking for gentler paddling, however, there’s plenty to be found, a paddle round to the impressive Parliament Cave in Gogarth Bay and back for instance.
Dorset’s Dinosaur Coast
The Dorset coastline boasts the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Park, the only one of its kind in the UK. As you’d expect it’s very beautiful and a perfect for a spot for some sea kayak action. Experienced sea kayakers can challenge themselves against the area’s hefty tides, and those with less salt-encrusted beards can simply enjoy a relaxing jaunt among the rocks. Lulworth Cove is a superb spot for spending a few hours afloat or you can stretch yourself with a longer trip from Swanage Bay to Kimmeridge Bay. If you’re feeling lazy, then why not take advantage of the storage space that sea kayaks offer and break the journey into two and camp out overnight. On the other hand, if you’re feeling very energetic, why not take those two days and go all the way from Swanage to Weymouth Bay? If you fancy really taking it easy, are new to sea kayaking or just want a spot of sheltered water, then a paddle in Poole Harbour could be just your cup of tea.
The Cornish coastline is steeped in history, myth and legend and with it’s abundance of imposing cliffs, secluded bays and coves, white sandy beaches and wildlife it’s no wonder that it’s a popular destination for sea kayakers. It has something to offer all levels of paddler to. From exciting multi-day trips to rock hopping just off a sandy beach, the Cornish Peninsula has a diversity of environments that’s truly impressive. This means that you always stand a good chance of matching the conditions and type of trip to your needs. In the summer the beaches and roads can become crowded with tourists, but out on the ocean, it’s always possible to find some peace. And who knows? You may even come across a visiting Basking Shark too!
An often over-looked gem the Norfolk coastline is simply stunning. It doesn’t have quite the same rugged, exposed feeling of many of the other entries here, and towering sea cliffs are off the agenda but the beaches, bays and estuaries of Norfolk can offer the sea kayaker some great experiences. It’s incredibly peaceful and even on busy days many of Norfolk’s beaches have empty hideaways where you can stop for a spot of lunch. With miles and miles of wide sandy beaches, unspoilt Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and some of the best nature reserves in the country (including Titchwell, Snettisham and Cley), it’s easy to see why the Norfolk coast will appeal to the nature loving sea kayaker. Situated on the east coast of England and known as the bulging rump, Norfolk enjoys a pleasant climate all year round, with a below average rainfall for the UK, so it’s a great place to cut your sea kayaking teeth.