Getting Active: The 6 Best Places to Kayak in Devon

Alex Thomas
Authored by Alex Thomas
Posted Saturday, October 17, 2020 - 10:01am

Devon is famed for some of the most beautiful kayaking spots in the country. Rich in breathtaking scenery and dramatic sunsets, there is nothing better than experiencing it all from your kayak.

From exploring Exeter’s historical Quay to adventuring along the Jurassic Coast, there’s much to enjoy. That’s before you even think about the behemoth that is the River Tavy!

Never has there been a time when getting fit and healthy has been more relevant. With No 10 pushing for the country to get more active, it’s time to get involved! 

Pro tip: If you have trouble choosing, check out this guide to best inflatable kayaks.

Here’s our rundown of the 6 best places to kayak in Devon:

1. The Exe Estuary

For the wildlife enthusiast and novice kayaker, the Exe Estuary offers gentle river and canal conditions for your watercraft. Linking the historical Exeter Ship Canal to the River Exe and the top of the Exe Estuary, you can easily spend 5-6 hours on the waterway.

Covering a 17km loop, most kayakers opt for the Exeter Quay to Turf Locks route. Here you can get a unique view of the city and the surrounding landscape. If you fancy a break from the water, the Turf Hotel Pub is a welcome stop about halfway around the route.

Feeling more adventurous? You can carry your kayak overland if you want to cross between the river and canal. Keep your eyes peeled for the waymarker posts with a canoe symbol.

2. The Jurassic Coast

Renowned for being England’s first-ever World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast is home to ancient landmarks and hidden gems. Stretching from the Old Harry Rocks near Swanage to the breathtaking Orcombe Point in Exmouth, there’s much to explore!

With nearly 95 miles of glorious coastline to see, you can either glide your kayak across the entire stretch or pick one of the many entryways along the way. From the infamous surfer’s paradise K-Bay to the calm Weston beach cove, you can have a landscape adventure like no other.

3. Lopwell Dam

If tranquillity and peace are what you are after, get your kayak down to Lopwell Dam on the River Tavy. Steeped in history and breathtaking scenery, Lopwell Dam is worth the journey. For those who fancy some excitement, the huge weir is famed for its white water.

As you paddle along, you can get a unique view of the Nature Reserve’s abundant wildlife, both in and out of the water. The area is a designated site of scientific interest, so take your time to take it all in - you never know what you might spot along the way!

4. Lee Bay

Hidden in the rugged North Devon hills, you can find Lee Bay in a valley between Ilfracombe and Mortehoe. A kayaker’s dream, the bay is a quiet spot where you can explore the sweeping coastline and paddle for miles on a flat day.

From Lee Bay, you can paddle out to Mortehoe’s Rockham Bay through to Ilfracombe harbour. Along the way, encounter the same coves and caves that legendary smugglers hid their bounty in back in the day! If you’re feeling brave enough, you can travel further south to the crystal-clear waters of the Cornish Coast.

5. River Axe

Flowing through Devon, Dorset and Somerset, the River Axe is a fun day out on the water. Abundant in aquatic life and wildlife, while surrounded by beautiful farmland and sweeping countryside, the River Axe has much to offer.

Adventurous and family-friendly, you can experience gentle stretches as well as mild rapids along the way. If you are fortunate, you may even spot an otter on your journey!

There are many accessible launch sites between Axminster and Seaton before the river joins the English Channel at Axmouth. Nearby, you can take time to marvel at the Seaton Wetlands before heading home.

6. River Dart

Deep in the heart of Devon, you can explore the mid-grade white water on the River Dart. A popular destination for canoeists and kayakers alike, the River Dart weaves through the ancient rolling hills of Dartmoor while offering adventurous water conditions.

Once you’ve got to grips with technique, you can easily glide through and navigate the waters. Here you will experience secluded rivers, streams and get a first-hand glance at the abundant wildlife in the area.

Definitely plan ahead for this adventure! Restrictions are in place at certain times of the year, so bear this in mind.

Kayaking and canoeing can be enjoyed between the 1st October and the 15th March from Newbridge and from the 15th October to 15th March from Dartmeet.

Ready for an adventure? Getting active has never been more fun from a kayak! So get ready to explore the Devon waterways for your nest day out.

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