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CanoeingThe BCU

Paddlesports offer something for everyone. From calm, steady paced canoeing on placid waters to facing the challenge of raging torrents, competitive sprint racing and exploring coastal scenery by sea kayak. The diversity of the sport has secured its wide appeal.


The term canoeing is used as a generic term for both kayaking and canoeing however there are clear differences between the two. Canoes were developed over the course of thousands of years, primarily by the native people of North  America as a mode of long-distance transportation. A canoe is usually an open boat propelled using single or double-bladed paddles where the paddler is kneeling or sitting on the seat with their knees bent and legs beneath them. Comparatively a kayak is usually a closed-deck boat propelled using a paddle with two blades where paddlers sit with their legs extended in front of them. They were originally developed by the indigenous people of the Arctic to hunt on inland lakes, rivers and coastal waters. Set up in 1936 to send a team to the Berlin Olympics, the British Canoe Union (BCU) is the governing body for canoeing and kayaking in the UK. The BCU promotes a large network of competitive local, national and international events offering the chance to take part in ‘taster events’ and perhaps even the opportunity to represent your country. These can be found on the BCU website. Browse through our directory to find your local canoe centers, read our related articles and join the Outdoors Travel community to upload your own articles, gain access to the forum and enter our competitions. Sign up for free and you can start sharing your experiences, advice and ‘in action’ photos and videos.