Kayaking Glasgow | Paddling Lochs, Canals, Rivers & More!

Discover the Adventure of Kayaking in and Around Glasgow in Scotland

If you’re looking for somewhere cool to paddle in Scotland then a Kayaking Glasgow adventure should be on your list of preferred Scottish paddling destinations.

Whilst it might not have the array of paddling options that Kayaking Edinburgh might have, there are still loads of paddling opportunities here in Glasgow.

This is a bustling city that’s well-known for its rich culture, varied history, museums, galleries and football divide highlighted by the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers.

But what may come as a surprise to some is that there are plenty of waterways in and around the city that are perfect for kayaking

Whether you want to paddle along tranquil lakes or challenge yourself with rapids, Glasgow has something to offer every type of kayaker and in this article we aim to explore all the waterways we can and point out the best places to Kayak in and around Glasgow.

Now without further ado, let’s get paddling!

Why Glasgow Is An Amazing Scottish Kayak Destination?

Glasgow has so much more to offer than just its buzzing nightlife scene or cultural landmarks; it also boasts some stunning natural surroundings perfect for adventurous tourists who love exploring outdoors. 

In addition to its iconic river systems like River Clyde which runs through downtown, the city is surrounded by beautiful landscapes such as Loch Lomond and the surrounding Scottish Highlands, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. 

Kayaking in Glasgow provides an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city while still enjoying its sights.

With so many waterways available, you can paddle along tranquil lakes or challenge yourself with rapids. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some local wildlife along the way!

And, as a bonus, you can even find some whitewater right in the centre of the city thanks to Pinkston Watersports who operate Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course. More on that later in the article!

Kayaking Glasgow featuring the Forth & Clyde Canal on a beautiful spring day

Kayaking Glasgow | The Best Spots for Paddling

When it comes to kayaking in Glasgow, there are a few spots that stand out above the rest. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, there’s something for everyone.

Kayaking The River Clyde

The River Clyde is one of the most popular spots for kayaking in Glasgow. 

This iconic river flows through the heart of the city and offers stunning views of landmarks like the Glasgow Science Centre and the Riverside Museum. 

The river is suitable for all levels of paddlers, with calm stretches perfect for beginners and more challenging rapids for those looking for a thrill.

If you’re new to kayaking, it’s recommended to take a guided tour or lesson on the River Clyde before venturing out on your own. 

Local companies like Pinkston Watersports offer lessons and rentals, as well as guided tours that take you through some of the best parts of the river.

Kayaking Loch Lomond

Located just outside of Glasgow, Loch Lomond is one of Scotland’s most beautiful natural wonders.

With crystal-clear water surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, it’s no wonder that Loch Lomond is a popular spot for kayaking and there are plenty of launch points around Loch Lomond where you can start your kayaking adventure.

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider exploring some of the smaller lochs surrounding Loch Lomond as well. These hidden gems offer even more opportunities to get away from it all and enjoy Scotland’s natural beauty.

So popular is Kayaking Loch Lomond that we’ve already written an extensive piece on it previously and you can check that out here.

Kayaking The Forth and Clyde Canal

The Forth and Clyde Canal runs 35 miles from Bowling Harbour in West Dunbartonshire to Grangemouth in East Lothian. 

While not technically a natural body of water, this canal offers a unique kayaking experience through some of Glasgow’s most interesting urban areas.

The canal is suitable for all levels of paddlers, with calm stretches perfect for beginners and more challenging sections with locks and weirs for those looking for a bit more excitement. 

At the Eastern end of the canal halfway between Edinburgh & Glasgow – is the engineering marvel that is the Falkirk Wheel, an iconic rotating boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal.

Kayaking Glasgow featuring a shot of bowling harbour
 Kayaking The Monkland Canal

There are definitely sections of the Monkland Canal that can be navigated by kayak but the biggest challenge is actually finding somewhere to get in and out of the water.

As a somewhat neglected canal you won’t find any canal boats on this waterway meaning you’ll only have to contend with the ire of fishermen, but make no mistake, you are absolutely permitted to have a go at kayaking the Monkland Canal.

Thanks to the great efforts of locals and associations like the Friends of Monkland Canal however, the canal is gradually blooming back into its historical best.

We didn’t actually manage to have a paddle on the Monkland Canal ourselves, but the Airdree Rambler James Cassidy has, and he documented his experience in a YouTube Video. 

Check it out below and have a look at his YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/@Grendel1970

Kayaking Black Cart & White Cart Water

White Cart Water

You can absolutely Kayak from the River Clyde down into White Cart Water and make it all the way to Paisley and even beyond. Much of this stretch is industrial but there are some tranquil parts to enjoy.

You do need to time it right with the tide though is the recommendation.

We have yet to do this ourselves but have had a few friends that recommend this section of water. Try sitting in your kayak as planes fly very low overhead nearby the Glasgow Airport and look out for otters that we assured frequent the White Cart water.

Black Cart Water

The Linford to Renfrew route seems to be pretty popular and offers a more rural outlook than the White Cart section permits.

Plenty of stone bridges, and farmland to see and there seems to be way more birds on this river, probably due to the lesser level of urbanisation.

Again check tides especially at the confluence of the White and Black Cart Rivers and the Clyde, the last thing you want is to get stuck in the mud after all!

Kayaking The Firth of Clyde

The Firth of Clyde is a Kayakers paradise to be sure, and is one of our favourite spots in Scotland to Kayak. There is so much to see and do here that really, this topic needs its own blog article and trust us, we’ll write one soon!

Suffice to say though that there are many islands to explore, plus castles, secluded bays, inlets and much more.

We know loads of people who love to Kayak Camp (wild camping) about this area and will have to try that out sometime.

We have seen whales here believe it or not! And we’ve definitely seen dolphins, or were they porpoises?

Anyway, much more on Kayaking the Firth of Clyde is to come on Kayak Mad so watch this space.

Kayaking From Glasgow to Edinburgh

Could it be? Is it possible to paddle all the way from Glasgow to Edinburgh?

Absolutely! This journey, mapped out by the fine folks at Scottish Canals, offers an unmatched southern Scottish paddling adventure, suitable for all kayaking and canoeing abilities.

The route itself is actually 54 Miles and requires five Portages whilst traversing two different canals. But wow, what an adventure. We’ve done it before and we’ll  write a full article on the experience at some point soon.

Kayaking Glasgow atmospheric shot of the River Clyde in the morning

Kayaking Tours and Kayak Hire & Rentals in Glasgow

Local Companies That Offer Kayak Tours and Rentals

If you’re new to kayaking or just visiting Glasgow, you might want to consider taking a guided tour or renting a kayak.

With so much water to explore here you’d think it’d be easier to find somewhere to actually hire a kayak than it is.

Personally I’d be hitting up Pinkston Watersports and the Glasgow Kayak Club, both of whom operate out of the Pinkston Watersports centre just to the north of the city.

One popular option at Loch Lomond is the good folk from Loch Lomond Leisure who are always willing and able to assist in any way possible.

Outdoor Trax are another reputable operator who are based on the canal at Auchinstarry Marina which is halfway to Falkirk.

For taster sessions and kayak tours about Glasgow the go to operators are West End Adventure who offer guided tours of the River Clyde and about Glasgow. Their guides are knowledgeable about the area’s history and wildlife, so you’re sure to learn something interesting while paddling.

They have a fleet of high-quality kayaks in different sizes, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs. They also offer training for beginners to make sure everyone feels comfortable on the water.

What to expect from a kayaking tour

If you’ve never been on a kayaking tour before, it’s important to know what to expect. Most tours will begin with a safety briefing where your guide will go over basic paddling techniques and safety procedures.

You’ll also be fitted with a life jacket before getting into your kayak. Once everyone is ready to go, your guide will lead you on an adventure through some of Glasgow’s most beautiful waterways.

Depending on the tour you choose, you may paddle through calm lakes or navigate through rapids. Along the way, your guide will point out interesting landmarks and wildlife sightings.

Don’t be surprised if you spot some otters or herons – Glasgow’s waterways are home to a variety of wildlife! 

Overall, taking a kayaking tour is an excellent way to explore Glasgow from a unique perspective while getting some exercise in at the same time!

Just Google search for Kayak Hire Near Me you’ll be out on the water in no time.

Kayaking Glasgow shot across Loch Lomond

Wildlife Sightings While Kayaking in Glasgow

Common Animals Spotted While Kayaking in Glasgow

Kayaking through the waters of Glasgow offers a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful creatures that inhabit Scotland. 

Some of the most common animals you may come across while kayaking include otters, ducks, swans, herons, and even the occasional seal! 

Otters are probably the most elusive creatures you can spot from your kayak as they are active at dawn and dusk but if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of them hunting for fish in the river.

Ducks and swans are also common sights along the River Clyde. You might spot them taking off or landing on the water or swimming around gracefully.

Herons can often be seen standing still in shallow waters along with seagulls and cormorants perched atop rocks drying their feathers. Seals are also known to make appearances around Loch Lomond where they come up to sunbathe on rocks or hunt fish in deeper areas.

Best Times of the Year to See Wildlife When Paddling in Glasgow

The best time to see wildlife while kayaking really depends on what type of animals you want to see. 

If you’re interested in spotting birds then Spring is a great time as it brings an influx of migrant species such as ospreys and terns who arrive in Scotland during this time.

Summer is also a great season for bird watching as many resident species breed during this period. For those looking to spot seals, Autumn is often considered optimal since seal pups are born around this time, making it more likely that adult seals will be seen hunting for food closer to shorelines.

Winter marks a perfect season for otter sightings since their activity peaks during early mornings & late afternoons when daylight is limited making them easier to spot. Overall though, no matter what time of year, kayaking in Glasgow offers an unforgettable opportunity to see wildlife in a way that few other activities can match.

Kayaking Glasgow featuring loads of kayaks on the boardwalk of Pinkston Watersports

Whitewater Kayaking in Glasgow

Discover the thrill of Whitewater Kayaking in Glasgow with adventure specialists Pinkston Watersports.

This is a premier facility in Glasgow, Scotland.

Unleash your inner adventurer with their “Glasgow Whitewater Kayaking & Tubing” activities, tailored to cater to all levels of expertise.

For beginners, the Whitewater Kayaking Taster Session is the ideal starting point. In just 1.5 hours, you’ll experience the rush of whitewater kayaking using either sit-on-top or closed cockpit kayaks, guided by expert instructors.

If tubing is more your style, hop onto the Whitewater Tubing activity.

Safely ride inflatable tubes along Scotland’s sole artificial whitewater course, ensuring non-stop excitement.

Experienced paddlers can partake in the Whitewater Park and Play, honing their skills amidst the splendor of the course.

Embark on a journey of progress with the Whitewater Kayaking Beginner – 3 Week Progression. Perfect for those familiar with flat water paddling or who’ve completed an introduction to whitewater, this 1.5-hour session refines your technique and moves you closer to mastering whitewater kayaking.

Calling all students! Experience the Whitewater Park & Play – Student Night, a thrilling opportunity to enhance skills and revel in the splendor of Scotland’s unique whitewater center.

At Pinkston Watersports, not only can you indulge in these exciting activities, but you can also bask in the knowledge that their artificial whitewater course is the sole one in all of Scotland.

Throughout the year, this course is utilised not only for recreational purposes but also by kayak clubs, rescue services, and film crews.

So, whether you’re a novice or an expert, Pinkston Watersports awaits with unforgettable whitewater escapades, set against the backdrop of Glasgow’s beauty. 

Kayak Launch Points and Kayak Routes in Glasgow

There are several excellent spots along the River Clyde and Forth and Clyde Canal to launch your kayak and start paddling through Glasgow.

One popular put-in location is Glasgow Green, an urban park on the north bank of the Clyde just east of the city centre. 

This spacious grassy area has paved pathways leading right down to the river’s edge, making it easy to carry your kayak to the water. From here, you can paddle west along the Clyde towards downtown Glasgow.

Another recommended launch point is Pinkston Watersports, which offers direct canal access. This community water sports facility in Port Dundas has dock systems to make launching smooth. Starting here, you can journey east or west along the scenic Forth and Clyde Canal as it weaves through the city.

For quick access to the riverside attractions in downtown Glasgow, you can put in near the Glasgow Science Center on Pacific Quay. 

This modern area along the south bank of the Clyde is known as the Gateway Center and features the iconic Clyde Arc bridge. 

Launching here lets you paddle west under the arc and past the Finnieston Crane towards the city centre.

Once on the river or canal, some recommended kayaking routes include:

  • Paddling along the River Clyde through downtown, floating under bridges like the Kingston Bridge and passing attractions like the SSE Hydro arena.
  • Exploring the Forth and Clyde Canal east or west, journeying through canal locks and under stone bridges.
  • Venturing from downtown out to the new Glasgow Harbour development and the Riverside Museum in the west end.
  • Circling back east via the Clyde to the Scottish Event Campus and Arena to the Gateway Center at Pacific Quay.

The interconnected Glasgow waterways allow you to customise scenic paddling routes to suit your time and interests. Just be sure to respect all waterway rules and prepare properly.

Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Glasgow Kayaking Adventure

To ensure your Glasgow Kayaking adventure is safe and enjoyable, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Always wear a lifejacket: Safety should always be your top priority while kayaking. Wearing a lifejacket is essential, regardless of your skill level.

Check weather conditions: Before heading out, make sure to check the local weather forecast. Avoid kayaking in adverse conditions such as strong winds or storms.

Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable, quick-drying clothes and bring an extra set of clothes in case you get wet.

Learn basic paddling techniques: If you’re new to kayaking, it’s essential to familiarise yourself with basic paddling techniques to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Follow local guidelines and regulations: Always respect local rules and regulations, such as designated kayaking areas and wildlife protection measures.

Our Personal Take on Kayaking in Glasgow: A Final Message from Kayak Mad

Kayaking in Glasgow is an incredible experience that should not be missed. The city’s unique location provides easy access to some of Scotland’s most stunning natural landscapes, making it a paradise for kayakers.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced kayaker, Glasgow has something to offer for everyone. From the gentle waters of the Forth and Clyde Canal to the thrilling rapids at Pinkston Watersports,, there is no shortage of adventure to be had.

One of the best things about kayaking in Glasgow is the abundance of wildlife that can be seen. From otters and seals to herons and eagles, there is always something new to spot while on your trip.

The best time for wildlife sightings tends to be in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. In addition to its natural beauty, kayaking in Glasgow also offers numerous health benefits.

Overall, whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, kayaking in Glasgow has it all. With so many great spots to explore and local companies offering tours and rentals, there’s no excuse not to try this amazing activity!

We love Kayaking about Glasgow and we’re sure you will too!

Cheers everyone, happy paddling and thanks for reading!

Kayaking Glasgow

Yes absolutely its possible to Kayak from Glasgow to Edinburgh or vice versa.

A full blog post on this will be coming to Kayak Mad soon.

No licence is required to Kayak in Scotland thanks to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 as Scotland now has what is called the ‘right to roam’.

So, you can effectively kayak anywhere in this fabulous, welcoming country.

Yes. Glasgow stands as an excellent city for indulging in the joyous adventure of kayaking. With the River Clyde and Clyde Estuary, kayakers can relish in the serenity of sheltered waters while marvelling at the splendid surrounding scenery and wildlife.

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