A Kayaking Guide for Windsor & Surrounds
As an avid kayaker with years of experience paddling throughout Berkshire where I live, I wonder why it’s taken so long to try Kayaking Windsor.
We’ve Kayaked Henley, we’ve Kayaked Marlow, we’ve Kayaked Reading and Newbury also.
But today I’m delighted to report that I’ve now been Kayaking in Windsor, and here I share my insider’s guide to kayaking options in this historic royal town.
Windsor has plenty to offer for fun on the water whether it be Kayaking, Canoeing or Paddleboarding and whilst there might not be the thrill of whitewater about for those of you reading who are advanced kayakers, it’s still a great destination – especially for family outings.
So, let’s dive in and find out why Kayaking Windsor should be on your paddling to do list if you ever find yourself out here visiting this wonderful area of natural beauty on Berkshire.
A Brief History of Windsor
The major drawcard of Windsor is its long rich history and the strong connection to the British Royal Family.
With its cobblestone lanes and stately castle, Windsor encapsulates the romance and grandeur of royalty throughout the ages.
Dating way back to William the Conqueror in the 11th century, Windsor Castle has been a respite for kings and queens for nearly a millennium.
Windsor’s rich past is palpable in each regal artifact and weathered stone, and as you walk (or paddle) about the town you can feel the weight of history in the air.
Seriously, it’s no wonder that upwards of 2 million people visit Windsor each year.
Best Places to Kayak Around Windsor
There are actually a few different watery expanses to explore in and about Windsor.
Most would just assume that the Thames is the only “go to” place for Kayaking in Windsor but rest assured, there are other options and some that might surprise!
Kayaking the River Thames At Windsor
The main draw of Windsor for paddling is undoubtedly the River Thames.
This major waterway flows right through the heart of town, offering kayakers calm conditions perfect for leisurely tours along beautiful stretches of the Thames.
Popular put-in points are near Windsor Bridge and the public slipway at Alexandra Gardens. From here, you can paddle downstream past Eton College and the Windsor Racecourse while taking in scenes of the Windsor Castle.
Upstream, serene paddling awaits around Boveney Lock and toward Maidenhead.
The Thames provides ideal Windsor kayaking adventures for all skill levels.
On busy summer days, be sure to stay alert to river traffic from boats and leisure cruisers. Early morning and sunset paddles offer both solitude and stunning vistas.
Kayaking the Jubilee River at Windsor
For a peaceful paddle away from river traffic, head just north of Windsor to the Jubilee River.
This 11-kilometre channel that stretches from Datchet to Taplow has a flatwater stretch perfect for leisurely kayaking.
You’ll have to traverse one weir in the stretch, but it’s easy to paddle if you’re confident, otherwise it’s equally easy to jump out of the water and port around.
If you paddle the entire length of the waterway from Windsor, you’ll also be able to take in Taplow Lake where it’s just a short port across just 20 meters.
On the Jubilee river you’ll glide through scenic wetlands and woodlands abundant with wildlife.
Keep an eye out for graceful swans, busy waterfowl, and even leaping fish below the surface. With few boats or crowds, it’s a relaxing stretch of water to hone your kayaking skills and take in natural beauty.
Plus, there are loads of small islands to explore along the way.
Kayaking Dorney Lake
Known for hosting 2012 Olympic rowing events, Dorney Lake offers another exceptional on-water experience.
You can launch kayaks from the public slipway to explore this 2.2 km picturesque lake.
Paddling the glassy flatwater surrounded by lush parkland scenery makes for sublime Windsor kayaking adventures.
It’s an ideal spot for beginners looking for calm conditions to build skills and confidence. More advanced paddlers can work on strokes and speed.
One thing you must really consider about Kayaking at Dorney Lake is that this is a working training facility for rowers so you must be sure to have checked your times and checked what’s on as the Lake might be designated for rowers only at particular times and days.
Contact through the Dorney Lake Website to find out all the most up to date information.
Kayaking Bray Lake
Whilst a smaller surface area than Dorney Lake – Bray Lake still offers some uniqueness for Kayakers to the area.
This is a wonderfully picturesque lake where you can breathe in the fresh air, and marvel at the abundant wildlife that graces the waters.
Bray Lake Watersports is the well-established water sports centre here that has been operating for over 40 years. They offer a wide range of water-based activities and sports for enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels.
You can enjoy activities such as stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), windsurfing, kayaking, dinghy sailing, winging, foiling, and open water swimming here which is why it is such a popular destination for spending entire days with the family.
Kayaking Around Old Windsor Lock and Runnymede
For an excursion steeped in history, launch at Old Windsor Lock to kayak downstream to Runnymede.
Along this relaxing stretch, pass by Magna Carta Island where the landmark charter was sealed in 1215.
The adjacent memorial at Runnymede commemorates the sealing of fundamental liberties. Pausing here while kayaking allows reflection on how the Magna Carta shaped democracy worldwide.
Windsor Kayaking Video
These tours are operated by London Kayak Tours who’s guided kayak tours around Windsor are led by experienced British Canoe Union Instructors.
Before embarking on the water, our instructors provide a thorough safety briefing and an introduction to essential kayaking skills.
Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere when you join their 90-minute Windsor Tour, where you’ll have the opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty surrounding you while sipping a glass of bubbly.
Witness the captivating sights of Eton College and indulge in the awe-inspiring view of Windsor Castle, Europe’s oldest inhabited Castle.
For further details, please visit the London Kayak Tours website at http://www.londonkayaktours.co.uk
Kayak Routes and Tips for Windsor
Windsor offers rewarding kayaking routes suitable for every skill level:
Downstream – Relaxing paddles along scenic stretches of the Thames past Eton, Romney Lock and Windsor Racecourse. Ideal for beginner and leisurely kayaking.
Upstream – Pretty paddling routes heading north from Windsor with options to venture toward Boveney, Bray and Maidenhead. This stretch offers solitude and beauty.
Loops – For longer adventures, experienced paddlers can plan circular loops around the Windsor area taking advantage of downstream and upstream sections. The entire loop taking in the Jubilee River is about 25 kilometers and can be a very rewarding paddling excursion.
Windsor Castle View – For iconic views of Windsor from a watery perspective, hug the banks near Windsor Castle and don’t forget your Go Pro or waterproof phone.
Be sure to monitor river currents and river traffic. Avoid paddling in challenging high wind conditions. Early morning and sunset often offer ideal tranquillity.
Kayak Hire and Lessons in Windsor
For visitors without their own gear, there are certainly options for kayak hire and rental in Windsor.
Local expert water sport outfitters like www.canoeandkayakadventures.co.uk offer kayak rentals for self-guided exploring at reasonable daily rates. Canoes and paddleboards available with these guys also.
Take introductory courses or join guided paddling tours with these guys for a safe, fun, educational experience.
Join the fun with Kayaking Tuition on Bray Lake from Engage Watersports who offer kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding and much more.
Whether you’re looking for an hourly rental or day-long tour, Windsor has great choices for getting out on the water. Taking a lesson or class is wise for beginners prior to setting out to kayak independently.
Safety Tips and Precautions For Kayaking Windsor
To ensure an enjoyable time kayaking near Windsor, keep these tips in mind:
- Check weather and river conditions. If you’re a beginner perhaps consider avoiding paddling in high winds or fast current.
- Bring proper gear like an approved PFD life jacket and clothing that can get wet.
- Learn basic paddling skills, capsizing recovery, and navigation before heading out.
- Follow all waterway rules and give clearance to larger boats.
- Carry a map and don’t venture into channels beyond your experience level.
- Kayak with a partner or group for safety and stay close to shore as needed.
Kayaking Near Windsor: Wildlife and Nature Spotting
One of the greatest joys of kayaking around Windsor is witnessing the abundant wildlife and natural scenery.
Paddling quietly allows you to spot:
- Graceful swans, busy coots, clever cormorants and other waterfowl along the River Thames.
- Colourful songbirds like kingfishers, warblers and finches in streamside trees and bushes.
- Bright wildflowers and flowering trees lining the riverbanks in spring and summer.
- Deer, foxes & rabbits can often be spotted in the more rural stretches of the river here.
- Even parakeets (obviously escaped) have been spotted in some of Windsor’s riverside parks and wooded areas.
Whether birdwatching or simply appreciating nature, Windsor’s waterways and greenery never cease to delight. Don’t forget your camera if you’re that way inclined!
More Windsor Water Adventures
Beyond kayaking, Windsor offers lots of ways to get out on the water:
- Stand up Paddleboarding – Try SUP yoga or paddle tours of the Thames.
- Rowing – Take a lesson or join a club to row the Thames.
- Boating – Rent a self-drive boat or take a Thames river cruise.
- Fishing – Cast from the banks of the Thames or Jubilee River.
- Swimming – Take a dip at Windsor’s swimming pool or in the Thames itself.
Windsor’s Most Visited Tourist Attraction
As we’ve previously identified, Windsor is massive for tourists and can be manic in the warmer months so planning ahead for things like parking can be essential in ensuring you have a stress-free day in the town.
Also, if you’re not planning on JUST kayaking then there is plenty to see and do in the town. Below are the TOP 5 most popular touristic attractions in Windsor.
- Windsor Castle: As one of the official residences of the British Royal Family, Windsor Castle attracts numerous visitors. Explore the opulent State Apartments, marvel at the St. George’s Chapel, and witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
- Legoland Windsor Resort: Perfect for families and Lego enthusiasts, this theme park offers a multitude of attractions, including thrilling rides, captivating Lego displays, interactive experiences, and live shows.
- Windsor Great Park: This vast parkland provides a serene retreat with stunning landscapes, walking trails, and picturesque gardens. Don’t miss the iconic Long Walk, Deer Park, and the beautiful Savill Garden.
- Eton College: Located near Windsor, Eton College is renowned for its rich history and prestigious education. Visitors can take guided tours to discover the historic buildings, chapels, and the famous College Chapel.
- Windsor and Eton Riverside: A charming riverside area, perfect for a leisurely stroll, shopping, and dining. Enjoy the scenic views of the River Thames, explore the quaint streets, and visit the local shops and cafes.
Kayaking Windsor: The Kayak Mad Opinion
With its abundance of serene waterways, Windsor is a paradise for paddlers and water sports lovers.
I really enjoyed the day out Kayaking about the area and I noticed dozens of other kayakers on my paddling adventure here in Windsor.
Admittedly I was kayaking on a wonderfully warm day and I was paddling with my family so it was a very laid back and leisurely experience for all.
So, absolutely Kayak Mad can recommend coming and experiencing the magic of a Windsor Kayaking adventure for yourself and explore the Thames from a new perspective.
Cheers, thanks for reading and happy paddling everyone!
Yes, you can kayak on the River Thames from Windsor. There are guided kayak tours available that allow you to explore the river and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Royal Town of Windsor and Windsor Castle. There is also plenty of opportunity for solo paddling as the conditions are very good for all levels of kayaking prowess around Windsor.
While there are no specific restrictions on kayaking in Windsor, it is important to follow safety guidelines and respect the navigation rules of the River Thames. It is also recommended to check the weather conditions and river traffic before embarking on a kayaking trip.
No, you do not need a waterways licence to Kayak about Windsor but you certainly should know all about the local requirements, so please ensure you do your research especially when it comes to launch points. To find out more about where you do (and do not) require a kayak licence in the UK read our article entitled KAYAK LICENCE UK | OUR COMPLETE WATERWAYS LICENCE GUIDE