Kayaking on Windermere for Beginners | Our Experience.

Written by Shayle Follows

We recently went on a trip to the Lake District to try different watersports. Here’s our experience of Kayaking on Windermere as beginners and what to expect.

We loved every minute of our trip exploring the Lake District. It was a hot busy weekend when we visited on our last-minute trip and we were desperate to get out onto the water to try a water sport. Luckily we managed to hire a kayak and we had so much fun. Here’s our experience of kayaking on Windermere, what to expect.

Kayaking on Windermere

Lake Windermere is the longest lake in England. It is a truly beautiful location to hit the water and adventure around the shoreline by kayak. Although this is one of the busiest lakes, there is plenty of opportunities to paddle off and find all the quiet spots.

Like us, if you’re not sure if Kayaking is for you and you want to give it a go before investing in equipment or just want to take part in a fun activity on your travels. You can hire equipment from outdoor centres around Coniston, Derwentwater, Ullswater and Windermere.

Dry Bag Kayak

We chose to hire kayaks from Ambleside YHA (Waterhead). They offer sit on top single and double kayaks (no experience necessary). The hire cabin is located in the lakeside garden of YHA Ambleside (right next to Waterhead pier) and is the perfect location to explore the northern end of Windermere. Kayak hire is available between 9:00 am – 5:00 pm during the summer holidays and selected dates. There is a cafe/bar at the YHA offering takeaway ready to provide you with cake and tea or a beer after a journey on the water.

Included in hire:

  • Boat, paddle, buoyancy aid, and backrest.
  • A dry bag, if requested.
  • A brief instruction before hire.

Essentially you have the freedom of the whole lake – time permitting! The staff happily pointed out the best and most scenic locations. We asked if we could moor up and get out anywhere and they gladly showed us the safest place to do this.

Ambleside YHA Waterhead Kayak Hire

We had both kayaked previously but not for a long time, even we were surprised at how quickly we picked it up again. The staff were really helpful and gave us some great advice and instructions. A few quick tips and we were off out on our 2-hour adventure!

Kayaking Windermere

We carefully stopped in a couple of places to enjoy a drink and a snack and it was such a lovely experience to find little secret places to lie on the grass and just take in the incredible scenery, and watch wildlife. It was such a memorable experience for a small cost.

Kayaking Ambleside

What will I need?

Check beforehand but if you are hiring from a company they will most likely give you everything you are going to need. Here is a list of a few items which we needed and found useful.

Usually supplied by company:

  • Life jacket
  • Dry bags
  • Wetsuit (Not necessary if you have light, waterproof and breathable clothing on.)

Items to take with you:

  • Cap/sunglasses
  • First aid kit
  • Packed lunch/ snacks and water or drinks.
  • Phone, GPS gadget, or camera
  • Waterproof and breathable clothing
  • Wet shoes if you’re planning on getting in and out as the banks can be sharp and slippery

Kaying in Windermere Review

We enjoyed it so much that we will definitely be returning. We’d love to give paddle boarding a go here too.

Two tips for kayaking on Windermere

Sit correctly: Sitting correctly in your kayak will make it so much easier when you start to begin paddling. You will have a backrest but try to sit up as straight as you can with your lower back and buttocks at 90 degrees to each other. You’ll find footpegs on each side of your kayak. Put your feet here. Your toes should be pointed outwards and heels towards the centre. Your knees should be bent upwards and outwards.

Hold the paddle correctly: You will get shown how to do this correctly by your provider. Hold the paddle with both hands just over shoulder-distance apart. Make sure the concave part of the blade is facing you. When you dip the paddle blade into the water, the concave part should sweep through the water. Check your knuckles are in line with the blade.

Safety on the Water

Be safe on the water! The Lake District weather can easily change. You should always be aware of the weather and its impact on the water. Check out the local Weatherline forecast before embarking. Always make sure life jackets are kept on and fitted securely.

Here are a selection of providers to hire Kayaks on Windermere:

Brockhole on Windermere

Located between Ambleside and Bowness, you can escape the crowds to explore the lake in safety. Kayaking is an easy way to explore Windermere at your own pace. The friendly lakeshore team will help you enjoy your kayak hire at Brockhole on Windermere. They will teach you the basics of balance, paddling, as well as falling off, and getting back on. Find more information here.

Windermere Canoe Kayak 

Their main boathouse is on Ferry Nab, Bowness. Sitting right on the lakeshore, it is the perfect place to hire Kayaks and much more. Find more information here.

Adventure North West 

Adventure North West’s qualified kayak coaches can support you to develop your kayak skills. They can take your group paddling on a journey around the lake or along a short, slow river. The kayaking sessions can also incorporate some little challenges and kayak games whilst out on the water. Find more information here.

Let us know if you have ever been kayaking in the Lake District in the comments!

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