Kayaking Bath: BEST Historic Roman City Kayak GUIDE!

A Kayaking Guide for Bath & Surrounds

If you’re looking for a unique way to experience this historic Roman city, then Kayaking Bath should be something that’s on your radar, especially if you love kayaking as much as we do.

This if you who’ve read this blog previously know we’ve been here Kayaking in Somerset before but we didn’t really touch too much on Bath in that article, which is why we thought we should write this Bath Kayaking Guide.

Anyway, we think that kayaking is the perfect way to explore this ancient Roman city and with its beautiful Georgian architecture, scenic river routes, and rich history, Bath has everything a kayaker could ask for.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the history of Bath, provide tips for kayaking in the area, and highlight some of the best kayak routes and paddling tours available. 

Everything within is designed to provide you with all the information you need to plan your perfect kayaking adventure in Bath.

Let’s get paddling everyone!

What to Expect in This Bath Kayaking Guide?

This guide will cover all the essential information you need to know before kayaking in Bath.

We’ll cover a brief history of Bath, gear you’ll need, rental shops, tours, routes, top places to stay, and all the additional activities that you might like to try while in the city.

Plus, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about Kayaking in Bath to ensure you’re armed with all the essential info you’ll require to get paddling quickly.

Kayaking Bath featuring the River Avon flowing past residential buildings

Why Do We Like Kayaking in Bath

Bath is an extraordinary city to kayak in because of its enchanting scenery, rich historical background, and accessible waterways.

Kayaking down the River Avon is an unparalleled experience, whether you’re admiring the Georgian architecture on the banks or taking in the stunning views from the water.

Bath is a city with fascinating historical significance that you’ll want to explore further. With its Roman and Georgian roots, the city has a unique mix of architecture, excellent museums, and art galleries. 

With plenty of kayaking tours available, you can explore the city’s historic sites while enjoying a relaxing day out on the water.

Even beyond the history, the city has a vibrant atmosphere that visitors can enjoy at any time of the year and there’s heaps to see and do in Bath.

This means spending a weekend here is a great idea for solo travellers and families alike and you can experience Bath from both perspectives, from the water and on foot.

Kayaking Bath along the serene Kennet and Avon Canal

The Ancient Roman History of Bath

The history has nothing to do with Kayaking here in Bath of course, but being such an interesting archaeological Roman city any guide about Bath on any topic should touch on its fascinating Roman history.

The city gained its popularity due to the thermal springs that it was built around. When the Romans arrived in the area around AD 60, they adapted local beliefs about the healing powers of the hot springs.

They constructed a grand bathing complex, which they dedicated to their goddess Sulis Minerva and named the city at that time as Aquae Sulis.

Bath is incredibly rich in Roman history, and you can experience it as you kayak along the River Avon.

You can see the remains of the Roman Bath House, which is believed to have been built during the 1st century AD and this is the city’s top tourist attraction and well worth a visit.

There are literally thousands of archaeological finds from pre-Roman and Roman Britain here within the complex. This incredible landmark includes experiencing the ruins of the original Roman temple dedicated to Sulis Minerva and the fully functional Bath House itself.

Georgian Era Architecture of Bath

Aside from the Roman connection Bath is famous for its incredibly well preserved Georgian architecture from 18th-century England and is home to some of the most impressive buildings in the UK. 

For the best examples don’t miss checking out Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, The Circus, Royal Crescent and the Pump Rooms. 

With so much awesome architecture to check out, we believe it can be best viewed from the river.

Kayaking Bath featuring Pulteney bridge from above the weir and the rear of the bridge

Kayaking in Bath | Times, Tours & More!

Now to the nitty gritty of Kayaking in this awesome city.

We believe Kayaking in Bath to be an unforgettable experience, but, like almost any kayaking experience  it’s important to prepare properly beforehand.

Best Time to go Kayaking in Bath

The best time to kayak in Bath depends on what you’re hoping to see and your comfort level with varying weather conditions.

In the summer months, you’ll have way more crowds, but you can enjoy a more temperate climate. 

To contrast, the off-season has quieter waterways but requires better preparation for the cold and rain.

In terms of time of day well we’re big fans of early morning paddling when very few people are out on the water. 

A few hours of Kayaking from 7am for example, leaves hours upon hours of time later in the day to explore the city’s wonders on foot and get both perspectives.

Kayak Tours in Bath

For those who are beginners, then jumping aboard a Kayaking tour here in Bath is the best way for first-time kayakers to experience the city from the water.

Even hardened experienced kayakers can enjoy the kayak tours in Bath that are on offer especially for the extra historical element it brings to the experience.

No matter which company you choose to do a Kayak Tour with, their guides here in Bath are very knowledgeable, and also a lot of fun!

Guided Kayak Tour Operators in Bath

There are seriously so many sightseeing opportunities along the tours such as the Pulteney Bridge and the Bathwick Meadows.

Many guided tours offer history lessons about the city, making this an enjoyable experience for history buffs.

In our experience we’ve found the best operators to be Original Wild who run the Bath Kayak Tour and Channel Kayaks.

However, if you’re in town for longer and are looking for a more immersive kayaking experience then we recommend contacting the Bath Canoe Club who operate 3 hour kayak taster sessions.

Solo Kayak Tours in Bath

For those who prefer going solo, you can chart your course and kayak down the river at your own pace. Solo kayak tours offer more freedom and flexibility to create your route.

Check out the great info that is always available on the Go Paddling website for inspiration on route planning in the area.

Kayaking Bath featuring Pulteney Bridge and Weir

Kayaking Routes in Bath

Kayaking routes in Bath are spectacular, varied, and almost endless, each with its unique scenery and landmark.

Some of the top kayaking routes in Bath include the stretch between Pulteney Bridge to Bathampton Mill, Musbury Hill Fort, Newton St Loe, and the picturesque Claverton Pumping Station.

So we’ll cover those in a little more detail here in this section.

Kayaking The River Avon

Paddling gently around Bath’s River Avon right in the city, you’ll witness this famous Roman city’s historical majesty from a unique perspective.

Delight in the architecture of the world-famous Pulteney Bridge and savour the unblemished beauty of the parade gardens.

But Beware: Navigating under the city’s low, ancient bridges might prove a challenge for the unseasoned paddler. 

For a truly enchanting experience, embark on your waterborne adventure during twilight hours, when the city’s lights paint shimmering patterns on the rippling river surface. 

The tranquil lull of the water and the whispered tales of this ancient city can be heard only by those who’ve floated this path. Trust us, you’ll love twilight paddling here in Bath city centre.

Kayaking to the Bathampton Mill

Kayaking to Bathampton Mill is an incredible experience, taking you down the picturesque River Avon from Bath city centre and back and is one of the more popular kayaking routes out of Bath thanks to its beginner friendliness.

You’ll start above the Poulteney Weir and paddle under the famous Pulteney Bridge and via the beautiful Georgian architecture of Bathwick. 

As you get further out of the city, you’ll see the countryside open up, with rolling hills and lush green fields as you paddle through Bathampton Meadows and under the A46.

You might even spot some wildlife, such as deer and there are certainly lots of birds that call this stretch of the River Avon home that’s for sure. 

The final destination is Bathampton Mill, a historic mill that is now a pub and eatery. The whole trip takes a leisurely hour but when you factor in a drink and the return trip you could easily spend three or four hours along this stretch of water.

What a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

Kayaking the Kennet and Avon Canal

Many people who choose to Kayak out to Bathampton Mill also decide to return via the Kennet and Avon Canal.

This means a short portage from either Bathampton Mill itself or paddling about a mile past the mill to where the River Avon and the Kennet and Avon Canal are much closer together.

On the return journey via the Kennet and Avon Canal you’ll pass plenty of fishermen (glide pass slowly so as not to disturb them) and also loads of cyclists and hikers who love the canal side path.

There are also a number of pubs and restaurants along the way, making it a great place to stop for a break.

The locks are all relatively easy to navigate, but it is important to be aware of the canal’s rules and regulations. You can find more information on the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust website.

Kayaking to Newton St Loe & Saltford

Kayaking to Newton St Loe & Saltford on the River Avon takes you on a historical journey through the city, tracking the route of the wonderful Avon westerly.

Starting from below the Pulteney Weir you’ll paddle directly south past the Parade Gardens and Bath Rugby Ground before turning west and sweeping around the city and towards Bath’s Green Park.

En route, you’ll be treated to a feast of idyllic pastoral landscapes and the iconic, honey-toned Bath stone buildings. Check out the wide open spaces along the way and have a little paddle around the delightful Saltford Marina where you can grab a beer and a snack if required.

The return journey will only take a couple of hours at a very leisurely paddle, longer if you have a few pints.

Kayaking to Claverton Pumping Station

This is by far the longest paddle route out and back from Bath but is probably the most rewarding as you glide through all manner of different urban and rural settings.

The Claverton Pumping Station is a very popular spot in the summer and swimmers congregate by the Warleigh Weir for watery fun in their dozens in the warmer months.

Paddle on further from Warleigh Weir and you’ll be rewarded with some very calm waters and will glide under the very picturesque Dundas Aqueduct.

The more adventurous paddlers will continue on all the way to Bradford-Upon-Avon on this route before heading back to Bath.

Kayaking Bath featuring an image of the historic Roman Baths

Highlights of Kayaking in Bath

While kayaking, there are a few notable landmarks that visitors should make sure to see when kayaking about Bath City Centre.

Pulteney Bridge – Built-in 1774, the Pulteney Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in Bath

Bath Abbey – The Bath Abbey has been a religious centre for over 1000 years and is a sight worth seeing although you’ll need to hop out of your kayak for this one!

The Weir – The Weir is a popular tourist attraction in Bath. It’s also ideal to have your photographs taken for memories! Located right by Pulteney Bridge.

Bath Locks, Widcombe Basin & Pump House Chimney – This section of the Kennert and Avon Canal offers paddling with good views of Bath, a few different locks to navigate (or port), some cool tunnels and a serene place to pause and admire the more suburban city views (even though it’s right in the city).

Best Places to Stay in Bath for Kayakers

Bath offers a range of accommodation options for kayakers, from luxurious hotels to budget-friendly hostels.

Top End

The Gainsborough Bath Spa: This five-star hotel is known for its luxurious amenities and prime location. It features a spa with natural thermal waters, elegant rooms, and fine dining options. The Gainsborough Bath Spa offers a lavish retreat after a day of kayaking.

Abbey Hotel: Situated in the heart of Bath, the Abbey Hotel provides a stylish and contemporary atmosphere. It offers comfortable rooms, a trendy cocktail bar, and easy access to the city’s attractions, including the River Avon for kayaking.

Middle Range

The Queensberry Hotel: This boutique hotel showcases a blend of Georgian charm and modern comfort. It boasts individually designed rooms, a cosy bar, and an award-winning restaurant. The Queensberry Hotel offers a sophisticated stay in Bath.

Hotel Indigo Bath: A boutique hotel where every room reflects the culture and history of the Grade I listed building that houses the hotel.

Budget Friendly

The Bath Backpackers Hostel: If you’re on a budget, this hostel is a great option. Located near the city centre, it offers affordable dormitory-style accommodation with shared facilities.

The Bath Backpackers Hostel is popular among backpackers and budget-conscious travellers.

YHA Bath: Another budget-friendly option is the YHA Bath, a youth hostel located in a historic building. It provides affordable dorms and private rooms, a communal kitchen, and a relaxed atmosphere. The YHA Bath is ideal for travellers seeking affordable accommodation near the city centre.

Where to Rent Kayaking Gear in Bath

With so much water about the city you’d think there’d be more places hiring kayaks and paddleboards. 

There are a number of operators that offer canoe and paddleboard hire in the city but short of pop-up operators in the warmer months finding kayak hire specialists in Bath is actually quite difficult.

Please note also that availability and rental options may vary, so it’s recommended to contact these rental providers directly or visit their websites for up-to-date information on pricing, availability, and any additional requirements.

Bath Canoe Club: The Bath Canoe Club is a community-based club that have a variety of kayaks available, including single and tandem kayaks. The club provides paddles and buoyancy aids as part of the rental package. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a friendly and supportive environment to rent kayaks and connect with other kayaking enthusiasts. Membership is around £100 per year but they do offer a non-member day membership for £15 meaning you can access their equipment.

Live Free Adventures: These guys have been running warmer season pop-up rental shops at Dundas Aqueduct and are returning in 2023 again in July. Check them out here for bath Kayak Hire in the late spring and summer.

Best Time to Visit Bath for Kayaking

Well to us here at Kayak Mad, anytime is a good tie to go kayaking no matter what the destination, no matter what the weather and no matter what the situation.

However some of you may want to choose your time to visit based more on the weather, budget or other yearly events in the city.

Optimal Weather Conditions in Bath

The best weather for kayaking is in the summer months between June and August. The temperature is comfortable, and the water is calmer.

Off-Peak Season Affordability

However, off-peak seasons such as the spring and autumn can be more affordable, albeit a little colder.

Special Events in Bath

The festivals in Bath are another perfect reason to visit Bath. The Bath Christmas market is one of the many festivals that are worth seeing.

Other Activities to Do in Bath (when NOT Kayaking)

Aside from kayaking, there are plenty of things to see and do in Bath.

Walking the Bath Skyline walk

If you’re a hiking fan, the Bath Skyline walk is worth seeing. This route offers a fantastic view of the city. 

This is actually a walk administered by the National Trust and is well worth doing especially if your outdoorsy (as most kayakers are) and appreciate nature.

Visiting the Roman Bath

The Roman baths are an iconic landmark in the city and worth visiting to learn more about Bath’s history.

Explore ancient Roman architecture and wonder at these seemingly eternal thermal waters.

Discover the captivating stories of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Seriously, we;ve visited here a few times and we guarantee that an unforgettable cultural experience awaits.

Touring Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

Here you can see the tomb of King Edgar who was the only King in medieval history to experience a somewhat peaceful and progressive reign.

Shopping in Bath

Explore the charming streets lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and independent retailers.

From fashionable clothing to unique crafts and antiques, Bath offers a diverse range of shopping options, ensuring a memorable retail therapy session for all visitors.

The Bath Christmas market is a must-visit destination in the winter months, featuring an array of stalls with gifts from local artisans.

Testimonials from Kayakers

Kayakers enjoy Bath as they call it an unforgettable experience, with its historic landmarks, scenic river routes, and friendly locals.

Buy honestly you shouldn’t just take our word for it – check out these real reviews if Kayaking in Bath that can be foud on Google.

Positive Experiences Quotes from Kayakers

  • “Kayaking through downtown Bath was an adventure of a lifetime.”
  • “The Georgian architecture, combined with the canal’s greenery and the panoramic views, created a yoga-like experience.”
  • “I’ve kayaked all over the world, and Bath is truly unique.”

Bath Kayaking Adventure | Kayak Mad’s Opinion

Bath is a historically-rich city that every kayaker should experience if visiting this part of England. 

Viewing the city and county countryside from the water in Bath is a unique way to learn about the city’s history while having fun and keeping fit. 

The city offers numerous kayaking tours, restaurants, accommodations, and other activities. 

So, whether you’re a solo kayaker, a beginner, or advanced kayaker, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful city. 

Plan your trip today, and you won’t regret it. Thanks for reading, stay safe and happy paddling everyone!

Interested in Kayaking In Cornwall or Kayaking in Portsmouth?

The following liked articles cover all you need to know about those destinations.
Kayaking Portsmouth | Kayaking in Cornwall

Kayaking Bath

Yes, you can certainly Kayak in Bath. The River Avon runs through the city and is a relatively calm river, so it is a good place for beginners. There are also several companies that offer kayak rentals and tours.

You can launch your kayak from different points along the river, such as Pulteney Weir, Bathampton, or Bathwick. Before launching, it’s recommended to check local regulations, any permits required, and be mindful of other river users.

Yes, you can kayak from Bath to Bristol. The River Avon connects Bath and Bristol, offering a scenic route for kayaking enthusiasts. The distance between the two cities is approximately 19 miles (30 kilometers) by river. It’s important to note that kayaking this stretch requires proper planning and preparation. Ensure you have sufficient experience in long-distance kayaking, knowledge of the river currents, and appropriate equipment. It is also advisable to check for any restrictions, permits, or safety guidelines set by local authorities. 

Yes, you can kayak from Bath to Bradford upon Avon. The River Avon connects these two towns, providing a picturesque route for kayaking. The distance between Bath and Bradford upon Avon is approximately 9 miles (14 kilometers) by river. As per the advice above do ensure you plan your route well.

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