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Canoeing and sea kayaking

Watersports by Chris J ParkerWatersports by Chris J Parker

Discover secret places on the Yorkshire Coast only accessible by kayak, just begging to be explored. Ride the tidal waves, take a sunset paddle or sleep under the stars on an expedition – kayaking is as relaxing or demanding as you like. Plus if you’re lucky, you could be joined on your adventure by birds, dolphins and seals.

If you're experienced and own your own canoe, head to the coast for a paddle at gorgeous Runswick Bay. Remember the skills required are not simply those of paddling the boat; you also need to understand tides, tidal streams, and the interaction between tidal streams and the weather. Barefoot Kayak also hire out kayaks and stand up paddleboards.

  • If you've not tried it before, then spend a fantastic day with one of our outdoor activity providers that provide lessons and tasters. 
  • Barefoot Kayak offers guided paddles which usually take place on settled evenings when Runswick Bay is at its best. 
  • East Barnby Outdoor Centre and the National Trust run sea kayaking adventures over the summer, paddling from Runswick Bay. Perfect for beginners, learn to paddle the waves, see the coast from a different perspective, and get up close to various sea birds. These sessions are very popular, you are advised to book well in advance (T: 01947 893333).
  • Teesoutdoors runs canoe trips and skills sessions in Whitby Harbour and the River Esk; gentle sea kayak trips and activity sessions on Cod Beck, Osmotherley and Scaling Dam. (For fun they also build rafts!).
  • For the independent explorer you can rent single and double kayaks from Tides at Sandsend, but feel free to take them to other locations for ultimate freedom on the water. They also rent stand Up Paddle Boards, surf and bodyboards.

Canoeing adventures of a different kind are to be found on the River Esk, an easy touring river with a mile of non-tidal flat river upstream to Sleights. Ruswarp Pleasure Boats will, for a small charge, allow you to use their slipway if you have your own canoe. They also have sit-on-top kayaks for hire. 

Further south in the Howardian Hills, Howsham Weir on the River Derwent is a favourite playspot for kayakers maintained by York University Canoe Club. 

The online river guide provides a good summary of most UK rivers, so you can find out what it's like before you paddle.