Kayaking in Cambridge: A Cambridgeshire Kayakers Guide
The Best of Kayaking About Cambridgeshire
We love Cambridge! A picturesque city steeped in history and tradition, famous for its prestigious university, stunning architecture, and narrow, city centre winding streets.
But did you know it’s also a fantastic destination for leisure kayakers and water sports enthusiasts?
That’s right, we’re diving into the world of Kayaking in Cambridge and exploring the best spots for your next paddling adventure in Cambridge City itself, as well as throughout the county.
We hope you enjoy the read so without further ado, let’s get into it!
Kayaking Cambridge on the River Cam
The River Cam, the lifeblood of Cambridge, is a prime spot for kayaking.
This meandering waterway snakes its way through the heart of the city, offering unparalleled views of the historic buildings and lush green spaces that line its banks.
As we’ve paddled along the Cam, we’ve been captivated by the famous college “backs” – the idyllic gardens and pristine lawns that stretch down to the river’s edge. It’s no wonder this scenic route has earned itself the nickname “Cambridge’s very own Venice.”
As you glide past iconic sights like King’s College Chapel, the Mathematical Bridge, and the Bridge of Sighs, you can’t help but feel like you’re part of history.
Punting vs. Kayaking In Cambridge
Punting is the traditional way to experience the River Cam, but why not try something different?
Kayaking offers a more intimate, hands-on encounter with the water, and it’s a brilliant workout to boot. Plus, you don’t need any previous experience – just grab a paddle, hop in a kayak, and you’re good to go!
As you glide through the water, you’ll have the chance to explore hidden nooks and crannies that are inaccessible by larger boats, offering a unique perspective on the city’s stunning architecture and historic sites.
Kayaking also allows you to connect with nature, as you’ll likely spot various species of birds, fish, and other wildlife along the way.
The peacefulness of being out on the water is incredibly therapeutic, providing a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life here in Cambridge.
And with numerous options for guided tours, rentals, and lessons in and around Cambridge, it’s never been easier to get started.
So, why not ditch the pole and embrace the paddle for an unforgettable experience on the River Cam?
Kayaking the Wicken Fens
Ready to escape the hustle and bustle of the city? The Wicken Fens, a vast wetland area just outside Cambridge, is a nature lover’s paradise. This labyrinth of waterways, reed beds, and sedge provides a tranquil setting for an unforgettable kayaking adventure.
As we’ve explored the Wicken Fens, we’ve been treated to a veritable feast of wildlife sightings. Keep your eyes peeled for herons, kingfishers, and even the elusive bittern as you navigate the winding waterways.
The Wicken Fen vision is indeed an ambitious project led by the National Trust, aiming to expand and protect this unique habitat for future generations.
Covering a vast area of approximately 53 square kilometres, the project’s goal is to create a diverse landscape that connects Wicken Fen with other nature reserves and green spaces, such as the Ouse Washes and the Great Fen, by purchasing and transforming the surrounding agricultural land into a mosaic of wetlands, grasslands, and woodlands.
As you paddle through the Fens, you’ll witness the incredible biodiversity that calls this area home.
Wicken Fen is the oldest nature reserve managed by the National Trust and supports more than 9,000 species, including many rare and endangered plants and animals. Some notable inhabitants include the marsh harrier, hen harrier, bittern, water vole, and various species of dragonflies and butterflies.
Visitors to Wicken Fen can also explore the reserve on foot by following the numerous boardwalks and trails that crisscross the landscape, offering the chance to learn more about the fenland’s unique flora and fauna.
The reserve also hosts events, guided walks, and educational activities throughout the year, which help to raise awareness about the importance of conserving this fragile ecosystem.
By kayaking in the Fens in Cambridgeshire and supporting the Wicken Fen Vision, you’re not only enjoying a fantastic day out but also contributing to vital conservation efforts that ensure the survival of this extraordinary environment for future generations to enjoy.
Kayaking the River Great Ouse
The River Great Ouse, one of the longest rivers in the UK, winds its way through the heart of Cambridgeshire.
From its source in Northamptonshire, it flows past picturesque towns and villages before eventually reaching the Wash, an estuary on the east coast.
For kayakers, the Great Ouse offers a wealth of opportunities.
From leisurely paddles along peaceful stretches to more challenging white-water sections, there’s something for everyone.
Along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning scenery and a glimpse into the rich history of the region – from ancient water mills to charming riverside pubs.
Kayaking Events on the Great Ouse
The River Great Ouse is also home to several kayaking events throughout the year, including races and charity challenges. Why not join in the fun and put your paddling skills to the test?
Kayaking the River Nene
Another fantastic kayaking destination in Cambridgeshire is the River Nene.
This meandering river offers a diverse range of landscapes and paddling experiences, from serene stretches surrounded by lush countryside to cruising through quaint villages.
As we’ve journeyed along the Nene, we’ve encountered an array of wildlife, including otters, water voles, and a multitude of bird species.
It’s a haven for nature enthusiasts and provides a unique perspective on the region’s flora and fauna.
Historic Sites Along the River Nene
The River Nene is also steeped in history, with fascinating sites to explore as you kayak along in the northern part of Cambridgeshire.
Paddle through quaint Wisbech, once an important inland port and still a thriving market town, or enjoy paddling the long straight stretch between Rings End and Peterborough.
Where To Learn Kayaking in Cambridge: Kayak Mad’s Top Picks
If you’re looking to learn Kayaking in Cambridge, you’re in luck!
The city and its surroundings offer plenty of opportunities for beginners to get started. Here are a few of our top recommendations:
- Cambridge Sport Lakes & Milton Country Park: The Cambridge Sport Lakes is a group of lakes that includes Milton Country Park. This fantastic facility provides a range of water sports opportunities, including kayaking. With a dedicated kayak and canoeing lake, it’s set to become a hub for paddling enthusiasts. Courses at Milton Country Park are perfect for beginners looking to build their confidence and skills in a safe environment.
- Grafham Water Centre: Located about 30 minutes from Cambridge, Grafham Water Centre is a popular destination for water sports, including kayaking. The centre offers a range of courses and activities for all ages and abilities, from taster sessions to more advanced coaching. With qualified instructors and state-of-the-art equipment, you’ll be paddling like a pro in no time.
- Cambridge Canoe Club: Situated on the banks of the River Cam, the Cambridge Canoe Club is a welcoming community of paddling enthusiasts. The club offers training sessions, courses, and events for kayakers of all levels, from complete beginners to experienced paddlers. Joining the Cambridge Canoe Club is a fantastic way to learn from experienced members, make new friends, and become part of a supportive community that shares your passion for kayaking.
By taking advantage of these excellent facilities and learning opportunities, you’ll soon be ready to tackle Cambridge’s waterways and beyond on your kayaking adventures.
What Else To Do In Cambridge Aside from Kayaking? Our Top 5 Things to Visit in Cambridge on your city Kayaking Break
When you’re not out on the water, Cambridge has plenty of fantastic attractions to explore. Here are our top 5 picks for things to do during a weekend in the city, offering a perfect respite from your kayaking adventures:
The University of Cambridge Colleges: No trip to Cambridge would be complete without visiting its world-renowned university. Take a guided tour or simply wander the picturesque grounds, soaking in the history and beauty of the various colleges. Don’t miss King’s College, Trinity College, and St. John’s College, which are among the most famous.
Fitzwilliam Museum: This impressive museum houses an extensive collection of art and antiquities, with works by masters such as Rembrandt, Monet, and Picasso. The Fitzwilliam Museum is a must-see for art lovers and offers free entry to its permanent exhibitions.
Cambridge University Botanic Garden: Spread over 40 acres, the Botanic Garden is home to over 8,000 plant species from around the world. It’s a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, perfect for a relaxing stroll or a leisurely picnic.
The Round Church: One of Cambridge’s oldest and most unique buildings, the Round Church dates back to 1130 and is one of only four medieval round churches in England. Step inside to admire its stunning architecture and learn about the city’s rich history through informative displays.
Kettle’s Yard: This former home of art collector Jim Ede is now an art gallery and museum, showcasing his collection of modern art, including works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Ben Nicholson. Kettle’s Yard offers a glimpse into Ede’s vision of the perfect living space, blending art, architecture, and nature.
With these top attractions and your kayaking adventures, your weekend in Cambridge promises to be a memorable and diverse experience, combining history, culture, and the great outdoors.
Top Tips for Kayaking in Cambridgeshire
Ready to embark on your kayaking adventure in Cambridge and beyond? Here are some top tips to ensure you have the best experience possible:
Check The Weather: British weather can be unpredictable, so always check the forecast before you set out. Be prepared for sudden changes and dress accordingly.
Safety First: Always wear a life jacket and, if you’re new to kayaking, consider taking a lesson or joining a guided tour to learn the basics.
Respect The Environment: Cambridgeshire’s waterways are home to a diverse range of wildlife, so be sure to paddle responsibly and leave no trace.
Plan Your Route: Some sections of the rivers may be restricted or have limited access, so plan your route in advance and be aware of any potential obstacles.
Stay Hydrated: Paddling can be thirsty work, so bring plenty of water and snacks to keep your energy levels up.
The Benefits of Kayaking
So, why should you give Kayaking in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire a go?
Here are just a few reasons why this fantastic water sport should be on your bucket list whether it’s paddling in Cambridge or anywhere else on the planet:
Fitness: Kayaking is a great low-impact workout that targets your core, upper body, and cardiovascular system.
Mental Health: Being out on the water can be incredibly calming and therapeutic, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
Connection With Nature: Kayaking allows you to immerse yourself in the natural world and experience the beauty and tranquillity of Cambridgeshire’s waterways.
Socialising: Kayaking is a fantastic way to meet new people and bond with friends or family as you share the adventure.
Learning: As you kayak, you’ll learn about the region’s history, wildlife, and ecosystems, making it both a fun and educational experience.
Kayaking in Cambridge: Our Final Comments
Kayaking in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire offers an unrivalled opportunity to explore the region’s beautiful waterways and immerse yourself in its rich history and natural splendour.
From the iconic River Cam to the serene Wicken Fens and the mighty River Great Ouse, there’s a paddling adventure waiting for everyone.
We’ve extensively kayaked throughout Cambridgeshire and always look forward to getting back. So, what are you waiting for?
Grab a paddle, hop in a kayak, and discover the joys of kayaking in Cambridge and beyond. Trust us – you won’t regret it!
Tahnks for reading guys and happy paddling!