Messing about on the river
Kent Life|September 2020
Messing about on the river
The easing of lockdown saw a huge growth in paddlesports, with people eager to get some exercise and explore the countryside, safely
Caroline Read

If lockdown taught us one thing, it was to value our freedom. With more of us exercising close to home and seeking our daily dose of calm, it’s no surprise that when restrictions were relaxed the paddlesport industry recorded a huge spike in sales of kayaks, canoes and paddleboards.

For seasoned paddlers, the spring lockdown meant their beloved sport ground to a halt at exactly the time of year they would normally be getting back onto the water. Having champed at the bit to get going, they were finally permitted in May.

But even those with little or no experience have felt drawn to the water this summer.

The peaceful surroundings and the freedom it offers proved extremely attractive to those suffering from ‘lockdown fever’ and the proof can be found in the record numbers joining membership organisation British Canoeing.

Allowing people to take in their local countryside, city locations and coastal scenery, paddling brings both health and wellbeing benefits, encouraging people to get closer to nature and exercise at a pace that suits them, while easily maintaining social distancing.

As a result of the upturn in interest, British Canoeing has launched its ‘Go Paddling This Summer’ campaign, in the hope of attracting more people to the paddlesport community.

The group has seen a 26 percent growth in membership since last summer and a massive increase in the number of people visiting its Go Paddling website, which suggests places to paddle, top tips on getting started and paddling safety.

David Joy, chief executive of British Canoeing, says: “We have seen a real growth in participation and membership numbers over the past few months as more people have taken to the water with their friends and families.

“Our role is to present the opportunities, to share information about where to paddle, provide handy hints and tips, point to the importance of the licences and insurance and to remind paddlers about the importance of paddling responsibly, while having a great time.”

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September 2020