Heading Out on the Water: The Magic of Canoeing Holidays

“Canoeing” and “holiday” may not go together in the minds of every Tom, Dick or Harry but if you’ve never been on such a paddle-packed adventure, let me explain why they go together like strawberries and cream or politicians and scandal!

Houses in Tuscany
Houses in Tuscany

Whilst a lazy week or two on the beach has its advantages and is certainly an easy option it’s not for everyone. Moreover, even if you are a sun, sea and sand type, a change is as good as a rest and a holiday should be about rest, rejuvenation, reinvigoration and recharging your batteries.

Canoeing holidays may not seem the ideal way to rest and recuperate but physical exertion and the feeling of wellbeing it brings can actually be far more beneficial than simply lounging around, particularly if that entails drinking and eating to excess, which in turn will probably lead to poor sleep. There is no point going on holiday only to come back feeling drained, sluggish and, well, in need of another holiday. The fitness benefits of canoeing are many, whilst exercising outdoors is increasingly being viewed as particularly beneficial, both physically and mentally.

Rolling Hills in Tuscany
Rolling Hills in Tuscany

And of course, it’s not to say that your holiday needs be totally devoid of the finer things in life. You’re going to be burning off plenty of calories during the day, which means you can eat indulgently in the evening, should the fancy take you. Canoeing doesn’t automatically lead to having to camp out either and so you can easily combine luxury accommodation with exploration of the local waterways and if you’re eating fine food in a great restaurant it would be rude not to sample a glass or three of the local tipple, right?

Canoeing is fun for all the family, a good bonding exercise or even an alternative option for a couple who don’t want to sit around a pool all day. There are a lot of places where you can go canoeing in the UK but the Dordogne in France is a magnificent destination for such a holiday, not least because there is the distinct possibility you won’t get soaked from the heavens as well as the river itself.

Gently flowing down this picturesque river your worries will melt away and whilst the river does most of the work for you on some stretches, in others you’ll really get to use those arm muscles as you battle the current and attempt to avoid capsizing.

Any river-based canoeing holiday will give ample opportunity to take time away from the water to explore the surrounding dry land and the Dordogne is no exception, with numerous abbeys, churches and chapels displaying superb architecture from across the centuries.

In addition you will pass through or alongside several charming towns, with bustling markets, fine and affordable bistros and, given the area is not overrun with tourists, very friendly locals. Throw in several magnificent chateaux and fascinating cave dwellings and you have a fascinating area in which there is much to discover.

So, whilst some seek psychological solace by returning year after year to the same Spanish resort or the same, albeit beautiful, Greek island, other – perhaps secretly – crave something different. And if that something is good for mind, body and soul, why not give it a go? Canoeing is remarkably easy to get the hang of, loads of fun and open to almost everyone – so get out to the Dordogne, don your wetsuit and spraydeck, grab your paddle and discover the joys of a canoeing holiday where the sun shines and the scenery is sublime. And the wine is pretty darn good too.

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