Club Focus: Pentland Canoe Club
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Watersports have gained in popularity in recent years. Ken Nicol of Pentland Canoe Club urges people to join a club for safety and fun on the water
Outdoor sports give positive health benefits for all age groups and paddlesports are becoming increasingly popular in Scotland, which is not surprising given the country’s fine coastline, rivers and lochs.
There are numerous areas to explore with an abundance of wildlife to see or rapids to conquer. So, whether you choose stand-up paddling boarding, sea kayaking, kayak surfing, open canoe, or whitewater kayaking – there will be something to suit you!
However, like all adventure activities there are risks and it is important to get the appropriate training for your chosen activity and advice on equipment to use, carry and wear. The easiest way to get this is to join a local club – and there are more than 90 in Scotland.
The most northerly club on the mainland is the Pentland Canoe Club. Based in Thurso, the club was formed in 1984 and offers most forms of recreational paddlesports.
With over 100 miles of dramatic coastal scenery rich in wildlife to watch, sea kayaking features predominantly in the club’s activities. However, the coastline can be committing, with very strong tides in places, especially around headlands and in the Pentland Firth.
The club is affiliated to the Scottish Canoe Association, the national governing body for the sport in Scotland, and has a number of qualified leaders and coaches to ensure individuals are given appropriate training and guided safely on trips.
For those wishing to try the sport, the club has a range of kayaks, canoes and equipment for individuals to use. This fleet of equipment has been built up over many years and has only been made possible with the support of a number of organisations, including the Caithness Sports Council, the Dounreay Communities Fund and the Baillie Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund.
During the winter, the club organises training sessions in the warmth of the swimming pool at the Thurso Leisure Centre. This is an ideal way for individuals to try the sport and learn the basic skills before heading out on the water in the summer.
Thurso Bay is used frequently for summer evening training sessions. Day trips at the weekend give an opportunity to explore the hidden coastline, with its abundant caves, arches, sea stacks and secluded beaches.
Popular introductory club sea trips include the coastline between Lybster and Berriedale or the coast near Bettyhill. During these trips there is often the opportunity to watch seals and a huge number of seabirds including puffins, guillemots and kittiwakes. Gannets. porpoises, dolphins and whales are also seen on occasions – all of which makes for a great day out and everlasting memories.
However, the club’s activities are not restricted to the sea. There are local lochs and rivers to paddle on during the winter.
The north coast is renowned for having some of the best surf in the world. Numerous kayak surf championships, including world championships, have been held here. During the 1980s and 1990s, the club was very active organising these with a number of members who competed as well.
So if you are looking for a new activity to take up, make new friends, and explore new areas, a paddlesport could be what you are looking for.
- For information on the Pentland Canoe Club, visit www.pentlandcanoeclub.org.uk
- To find a club in your local area, visit https://gopaddling.info/find-paddling-clubs
- For information on the sport in Scotland, visit www.canoescotland.org
- Safety advice for paddling on the sea can be found at https://rnli.org/safety/choose-your-activity/kayaking-and-canoeing