Kayaking along the famous Lake Windermere

The humble kayak originated from the tribes that inhabited the North American continent, who used the boats primarily for hunting seals in the cold artic seas. Kayaks offer greater protection than the more open canoe.

Kayaks tend to feature closed cockpits that your legs slide into, making them more suitable for white water. Furthermore, unlike canoes, kayaks are steered with a paddle featuring a blade on both ends, requiring a twisting motion to be used to propel the boat forward.

What Kayaking Involves

If you are new to kayaking we strongly recommend that you use an adventure company to provide you with some basic tuition. A typical session with an activity company may involve a lesson on calm, flat water in one of the lakes, before possibly progressing to faster flowing water, depending on your level of skill, fitness, and the type of session you have booked. You may even get the opportunity to do the classic Eskimo roll, which involves rolling your kayak 360 degrees, taking your body into the water and back out again.

What to Wear and Bring


Kayaks in Derwent Water available for rent

You will most likely need a wetsuit for kayaking, though most activity companies will provide this as part of their package, however, it’s best to check in advance if that is the case. You should also bring spare footwear that can get wet for wearing in the kayak, such as trainers, or paddle shoes. It is not advisable to wear open toed shoes. During wet and cold weather, you will probably want a waterproof jacket for wearing on top.

Where to Go Kayaking in the Lake District

If you are new to kayaking, check out one of these activity companies offering the activity. They will teach you the basics of the sport and then lead you on an adventure.

Equipment & Tuition: For Novices

River Deep Mountain High

Kayaking sessions start on Coniston Water with trips on rivers offered for those with a good level of experience.


Mobile Adventure

Kayaking sessions take place on Derwent Water, starting with some basic tuition before taking a leisurely paddle around the lake. For more advanced kayakers, river trips can be arranged.

  • Address: Laal Moota, Blindcrake, Cockermouth, CA13 0QE
  • Tel: 01697323548
  • Website: www.mobileadventure.co.uk
  • Cost: From £35 per person 

Adventure Makers: Dave's Adventure Company

Adventure Makers offer a personalised service with activities tailored to suit your needs and requirements. Kayaking sessions can be arranged on waters throughout the Lake District with something to suit all abilities.


Distant Horizons

Kayak sessions tend to be held on Ullswater with half day, full day, and overnight sessions that include a camping trip available. You could even book onto a sunset tour for a unique perspective of the lakes.

  • Address: Leeming Farm, Watermillock, Ullswater, Penrith, CA11 0JJ
  • Tel: 01768486465
  • Website: www.distant-horizons.co.uk
  • Cost: From £25 per person

Joint Adventures

Joint Adventures own a large range of kayaks so they are able to provide most people with a boat suited to their needs, age, and size. Taster sessions and courses are available, taking place on Coniston Water.


Derwent Water Marina

This Royal Yachting and British Canoe Union centre offers professional courses for beginners and experts alike, all on the beautiful waters of Derwent Water.


Windermere Outdoor Adventure Centre (North Country Leisure)

Holder of the British Canoeing Quality Mark, the Windermere Outdoor Adventure Centre offers taster, half, and full day sessions with fully qualified instructors at Windermere.


Just the Equipment: For Experts

If you have some kayaking experience, but don’t want to bring your equipment on holiday with you, then you can hire boats at various points across the Lake District, as listed below.

Distant Horizons

Various boats are available to hire from their Ullswater base. Delivery is available for a small fee and you can also hire all of the necessary equipment.

  • Address: Leeming Farm, Watermillock, Ullswater, Penrith, CA11 0JJ
  • Tel: 01768486465
  • Website: www.distant-horizons.co.uk
  • Cost: From £35 per day

Derwent Water Marina

Boats available to hire close to Keswick. Advanced booking during peak seasons is highly recommended..


Windermere Outdoor Adventure Centre (North Country Leisure)

Located on the shores of Windermere, hire includes a brief introduction to the boat and a safety talk, as well as recommendations about the routes available.


Windermere Canoe Kayak

As well as the main base at Bowness on Windermere, Windermere Canoe Kayak has bases at Ambleside and at Fell Foot Park, giving you a range of options for your route.


Coniston Boating Centre

This is non-profit making hire centre run by the National Park Authority at Coniston Water.


Adventure North West

Adventure North West offers kayaking sessions with experienced guides in Coniston. You can opt for a journey around the lake or along a short slow river. The sessions are fun and interaction and tend to involve challenges and games.