Go Wild on the River Stour
When you’re thinking of a great day out in Kent, you’ll probably think of the water – after all, we have plenty of gorgeous beaches and more than enough coastline for everyone to indulge in a little paddle. What you might forget are the many rivers that crisscross the county. There are 20 of them, from the Medway to the Rother, the Darent and the Wantsum…and plenty more along the way.
The River Stour is perhaps one of the most well known of them all. It runs from Lenham near Maidstone all the way to Pegwell Bay near Ramsgate and Sandwich, where it finally flows into the North Sea. Along its journey, it passes through many historic towns including Canterbury, Ashford and Hythe.
But that’s not all it’s famous for – the River Stour is also where Canoe Wild is based, and is therefore where you can enjoy a great day out on the aforementioned river either canoeing, kayaking, or standup paddleboarding. Take your pick…the choice is yours.
When you arrive at Canoe Wild, you’ll be greeted by the friendly team and fitted for a life jacket, at which point you will really start to feel the fun beginning; these safety devices make the entire adventure seem much more real, and certainly when the team at insideKENT tried it, we were all raring to go.
We had opted for the half-day instructor-led activity since all but one of us had never been on a craft like these before. It was a great option. After choosing our vehicles, – a single kayak, a double kayak, and a canoe for two – we were taught how to use the paddles (there’s a slightly different technique for each craft) before we launched; it’s best to get on the water as soon as possible because that’s where the real practice starts.
It didn’t take too long for us all to get a good idea of how to manoeuvre the boats, and even with a couple of false starts – ably corrected by our guide, Andrew – we were soon gliding along the river feeling rather pleased with ourselves and enjoying the day out immensely.
The route took us from Canoe Wild’s site at Fordwich to its second site at Grove Ferry. It’s a distance of around 3.5 miles or so, which took us about 2.5 hours to cover. During that time we became pretty proficient at paddling and were even able to stop for photos, games and of course replenishing snacks along the way.
It’s not all fun and games, though, it’s extremely relaxing too, particularly since we were going with the current, which at times meant all we had to do was steer and gaze around us at the beautiful Kentish countryside.
When we disembarked, we were given a lift back to Fordwich (it’s all part of the service) which means there is no additional logistical planning you have to think about, worry about, or otherwise concern yourself with – it’s all about enjoying the day for what it is, which is learning something unique and fun that will teach you a few new skills…namely core strength and balance!
Fordwich is home to the superb George and Dragon pub, which is located right next to the entrance of Canoe Wild. The team, tired and happy, opted to have lunch there and the great food and friendly atmosphere rounded the day off perfectly.
Canoe Wild, Grove Ferry Country Park & Picnic Site, Grove Road, Upstreet, Canterbury, CT3 4BP