Days Out

The beauty of kayaking

If messing about on the river sounds like your ideal day away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life, and yet you also need the thrills and spills of something that pushes your adrenalin level to full capacity, then kayaking may well be the perfect sport for you. The beauty of kayaking is that you can take it at your own pace – white water rapids may be the pinnacle of fun for some, yet peacefully floating around a calm, dappled lake may be the ultimate in fulfilment for others. Want to do both? Once you have the skills you need to go kayaking, the world – or at least its waterways – is your oyster.

by Lisamarie Lamb

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Kayaking is not canoeing – that’s the first thing that anyone who is keen to get out and experience this thrill ride (or tranquil journey) on the water must know. When choosing to kayak, you are choosing to sit on a low seat with your legs out in front of you, stretched out within the vessel (when canoeing, you would either be kneeling in the canoe or sitting on a specially raised seat), and use a double bladed oar (canoeing uses a single bladed oar).

Kayaking is a superb sport for beginners and those who love a challenge, and it doesn’t take long to build up the confidence required once out on the water to go further – literally and figuratively – than you ever thought possible. Depending on your level of expertise, and how comfortable you feel, kayaks can be used pretty much anywhere – rivers, lakes, and the sea are all extremely popular places to go kayaking. Even the infamous white water rafting has been given the kayaking treatment, and entails traversing your specially designed vessel through the epic swirls and squalls of fast-moving rough waters.

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It is versatile too, so it can be combined with camping, for example, or fishing, or hiking, or cycling. Because there are so many kayaking companies around today, it is possible to simply hire a kayak and enjoy it for as long as you need before handing it back and continuing your journey. It’s a wonderful way to get some different views of the landscape, a great way to get some fresh air, and an excellent way to keep fit.

So what are the advantages of taking up kayaking?

  • Paddling involves core strength and twisting muscles that might otherwise be forgotten about. Although at first this will cause aches and pains, soon enough you’ll be feeling healthier and fitter, with a flatter stomach. Some studies suggest than an hour of kayaking can burn up to 500 calories!
  • Your arms, shoulders, and chest will get a workout too, even in the calmest of water. It’s all about water resistance, and what that can do for you.
  • Research has been carried out that shows kayaking reduces stress hugely. Whether it’s the movement, the peace and quiet, the excitement, or the exercise we don’t yet know, but something about kayaking is calming.
  • Using a kayak, you can explore places you would never otherwise have found, or been able to reach. This method of travelling gives you a completely different view of the world around you, which is always something special.

Where in Kent?

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If you think that you would like to try kayaking, why not get in touch with one of the following Kent-based companies?

Bewl Water // www.bewlwater.org

For a one-day taster or a longer, more intensive course, Bewl Water has everything you need. Here you will gain an introduction to the basic skills of kayaking, and, once you feel confident, you can move on to learning more about control and those more challenging water courses.

Leybourne Lake Watersports Centre // www.leybournelakewatersports.co.uk

Here you can gain an insight into kayaking with short or long courses, and once you know what’s what, you can work towards gaining awards and qualifications. Bespoke lessons can be tailored to your needs on a one-to-one basis.

White Water Action // www.whitewateraction.co.uk

Once you’ve learned what you need to know, you might want to join a club or group like this one to meet people with the same adventurous tastes in watersports. You’ll learn a lot this way, and you’ll get to experience a real sense of fun and freedom.

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