Articles - A Guide to Canoe Camping

Heading out on a canoe camping trip
Heading out on a canoe camping trip
Canoe and Kayak team - Posted on 17 Mar 2009

There are few things more relaxing than cruising along a meandering river, listening to the ripples from your bow and the chirp of the bird song. Touring kayaks, and sit-on-tops, have come a long way over the last few years, and there’s now a model to suit every type of paddler. There great for carrying stuff too, which, you guessed it, makes them great for day tripping and camping out. Here’s a few suggestions on some of our Classic touring rivers, but there are plenty more out there, just waiting for you to discover them.
Setting up a canoe camping site


River Wye

The River Wye is one of Britain's most scenic and unspoilt rivers, and has long held a special place in the hearts of UK paddlers. From its source deep in the Welsh Mountains, from the streams of Plynlimon, the River Wye flows through Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, Ross-on-Wye and continues on to tumble over the gentle rapids at Symonds Yat, then on through Monmouth and Tintern until it finally reaches Chepstow where it joins the Severn Estuary.

The lower Wye Valley with its steep wooded cliffs is particularly good for paddling and you’ll see wildlife and birdlife a plenty as you float along. The Wye offers the keen paddler a 100 miles of touring, and it’s one of the few river journeys that offer the opportunity of multi-day paddling trips. There is plenty of camp sites and riverside pubs along the way, but good campsites can be found at the following: Hay On Wye (01497 820780), Byecross, (01981 500284), Holme Lacy Bridge, (01432 870213), Ross on Wye, (01989 563900), Symonds Yat West (01600 890883) and Monnow Bridge Camp at Monmouth (01600 714004)

River Severn

The UK’s largest river, the Severn is the Wye’s big brother and also rises from the flanks of Plynlimon in the Cambrian Mountains in Wales. As it flows from its source to its mouth in the Bristol Channel it covers an impressive 350km. Its narrow and twisting in its upper reaches, but it’s stunning scenery and Jackfield Rapids supply a shot of adrenaline.

Although the Severn can be fearsome in flood, it can become very shallow over gravel beds in some places during the drier months, notably as it flows through the picturesque town of Bewdley. It then broadens out as it slows slowly along its way to the city of Worcester. There are many locks and weirs to negotiate, but they’re all kayak friendly and it’s a fairly easy job to get out and walk round.

In parts you’ll be surrounded by ‘Gin-palaces’ but in other’s you’ll have the whole river to your selves. There’s a great riverside pub at Twekesbury that allows camping in its grounds and the Red Lion, just before Gloucester also has a campsite (01452 730251). There are plenty of riverside pubs, B&Bs and youth Hostels along its length and camping can be found at The Royal Hill Inn (01743 741242) and Lick Hill Manor Caravan Park at Stupor On Severn (01299 871041)

Other touring rivers to consider:
River Thames
The Dart Estuary
River Exe
River Stour
River Lune
River Spey
River Sore
River Avon
River Derwent.

If you found this article useful check out the following great features: How to canoe sailing, canoeing in the Lake District, Finding a canoe club

* Whether your preference is for sea kayaking, whitewater or touring, search our superb selection of free downloadable kayak route cards by clicking here.

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1 comments so far...

1.Andrew Dunning
17 Jan 2011 14:43
This article a bit vague and low on detail us kayakers want - such as where the acceptable start of the Wye River paddle is, how many days to its end at Chepstow, where, specifically, the rapids are etc. Can anyone fill me in as I am planning a multi-day paddle down its length this spring/summer and want to make sure I start at the 'right' place. many thanks.
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