Articles - Sea Kayak Camping

Sea kayak camping
Sea kayak camping
Canoe and Kayak - Posted on 17 Mar 2009

With their long, sleek waterlines, hatches, bulkheads and all the storage they offer sea kayaks are fantastic for stowing away the camping kit and heading out on the big blue for a day or two. We have some truly world-class coastline in the UK and sea paddling to match, and with the advent of lower-priced plastic sea kayaks more and more people are taking to the water to enjoy it. We’ve picked out some of the popular classic areas, but there is great sea paddling to be had wherever you can find a spot to launch your sea kayak.

The Outer Hebrides

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 fare 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 sea bird 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

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 there’s plenty to be found. There are campsites everywhere but try Point Lynas Caravan Park, Amwlch, (01407 831130), Penrhyn Bay Caravan Park, Holyhead, (01407 730496) or Kingsbridge Caravan Park, Beaumaris, (01248 490636)

Dorset’s Dinosaur Coast

The coastline around Dorset’s Jurassic Coast World Heritage Park, the only one of its kind in the UK, is perfect for a spot of sea kayak action. You can challenge your self against the areas hefty tides or just enjoy a bimble among the rocks. Lulworth Cove is a superb spot for spending a few hours afloat or you can stretch your self with a longer trip from Swanage Bay to Kimmeridge Bay. If you’re feeling lazy, then why not break the journey into two and camp out overnight. 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, or want sheltered water, then a paddle in Poole Harbour could be your cup of tea. Camping can be found at West Lulworth, Wareham, (01929 400200), Osmington Mills, Weymouth, (01305 832311) and Cauldron Barn Road, Swanage, (01929 422080), but there is some wild camping to be had if you know where to look!

Useful Info:

Falmouth to Mullion Cove - By Jeff Allen

One of my favourite local paddles is right on my doorstep.
Paddling out from Maenporth Beach, a small cove just to the west of Falmouth and following the coastline along, crossing the mouth of the Helford River to Manacle Point. Possibly stopping for a quick brew at Porthallow Village. It isn’t long before you reach one of the most infamous reefs in the British Isles, the Manacles. From here to the Lizard the coastline is legendry amongst mariners. Wrecks abound, one such wreck at the Manacles occurred on the 22nd of January 1809, HMS Primrose was dashed on the rocks of this infamous reef, and now the whole area is popular with treasure divers. The area, however, is safe for kayakers as there is a deep water channel on the inside of the reef, as with all places you need to take care in bad weather; there is tidal movement around the headland but has never been so significant that it has caused any problems. Though I have to say that with just a moderate swell running one day, I was sat watching the reef whilst eating my lunch when a larger set than the norm’ came through and closed out the whole of the reef!
    Leaving the Manacles in your wake you pass Black Head and approach one of my favourite Cornish fishing villages, Cadgwith.
    I tend to stop over here for the night, if I can, wild camping on the small elevated spit of land to the left of the harbour. If for no over reason than to experience the wonderful atmosphere of the local pub, the Cadgwith Cove Inn, local musicians will often be heard singing the evening away, with the backdrop of friendly chatter from local fisherman.

The Lizard

 Leaving the village you are now approaching the UK’s most southerly point, it’s an awesome place to be in any kind of weather and it has caught out its fair share of experienced paddlers, as well as hundreds of ships of a more hefty nature, the tide runs strongly on the outside with heavy over-falls in places, but once more there are routes through the inside, choose your weather and sea state to match your skills here. As soon as you are to the west of the peninsular you feel the difference in sea state, any swell running from the South West, (which is the norm’) creates some interesting clapotis under the cliffs and the paddling down to Mullion Cove can be a bit of a bumpy ride. The cove lies just behind Mullion Island, and provides some protection as you enter in behind the small harbour wall, especially if there’s any kind of a sea running.
     Late spring and throughout the summer, encounters with Basking sharks are common, as well as numerous other species of marine life, seals, dolphins and some species of whale are common visitors to the south west.

Paddler's Tips

“Food is very close to my heart, especially on long trips so… Don't automatically take freeze-dried food rations on sea kayak camping trips. Unless you are going for a very long trip, there should be plenty of room for fresh tasty food, with plenty of treats! Fresh vegetables travel amazingly well in kayaks. In Tasmania, we were still eating slices from a cucumber two weeks after we bought it, and 300km away from the last shop. Peanuts are a great addition to stir-fries they don't take up much space, and add energy and taste to a meal. You can also munch them on the water for a quick energy fix. I always take a little pot of spices and some garlic to add flavour to evening meals. A flask of whisky is great to swig, or add to your hot chocolate in the evening. While you are at it, a bottle of wine fits nicely down the side of my skeg-box, or wrapped inside my sleeping bag, I haven't broken one yet!
    On longer trips, you may have to take more 'instant' or 'dehydrated' food but make sure you have treats to cheer you up when you're fed-up. In Tasmania, we had porridge for breakfast most mornings, but we always lingered over pancakes when we were weather-bound, and whenever we came to a town we bought and demolished a big box of crunchy nut cornflakes between us, in one go!”

“Take a 'beach bag' with you on a trip, these massive light-weight mesh bags allow you to carry all your bits-and-bobs from your kayak up the beach in one trip. Another tip is to always take along a pair of flip-flops. After my feet have been in wet suit boots all day I really want them to breathe once I land. Anything other than flip- flops is horrible. Sandals work for some people but I prefer to take a pair of light Gortex walking shoes and flip-flops”
Justine Curgenven – Award winning filmmaker and expedition sea kayaker

“An essential part of a mellow camping experience is a good night's sleep. So carry your boats that bit further up above the high water mark and tie your boats together, or better still to something unmovable. That way when the wind gets up or you hear the waves breaking on the beach at high water, you can smile, snuggle down into your warm sleeping bag and go back to sleep.”

Franco Ferrero – Author, publisher and Sea Kayak Coach

How about a Sea Kayak Camping trip in Cornwall read our feature on the joys of Sea kayaking in Cornwall (besides the ice cream of course) 

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