You’ll need to drive a little to reach most of these natural attractions, but there’s a way that you can get into nature from the city centre.
Enter: Saddles and Paddles and canoeing in Exeter!
What is Saddles and Paddles?
Saddles and Paddles is an independent bike shop and sports hire business, based on Exeter Quay.
They rent out canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and bicycles, enabling you to explore the beautiful quay, canal and estuary in unique and immersive ways.
Whether you want to opt for paddle board hire, go canoeing or kayaking, cycle along the Exe Estuary or take in other water sports, the friendly team at Saddles and Paddles have the perfect activity for you!
This article is all about canoeing in Exeter, but a lot of the same information applies whether you’re kayaking or paddle boarding too!
Canoeing in Exeter
We trundled down to Exeter Quay on a Sunday morning and were instantly greeted by the friendly staff.
“We’ve got you down for canoeing in Exeter as you’ll likely stay dry – unless something goes wrong!” said the manager, laughing.
Oars in hand, we walked down to the water where we were shown the ropes – or, should we say, paddles!
“Stay low when you step in!” we were advised.
Boarding complete, we pushed off from the quayside.
There’s a lovely route that you can take that travels past the historic quay and through the Exeter canal, taking in the historic buildings and waterside nature on the way.
“The only thing to remember is when the river splits, don’t go to the left” we’d been told.
“Then you’ll get to a weir – and you don’t want to go down that”.
Bearing that in mind, and making a mental decision to stay as far to the right as possible, we pushed off from the shore.
First, we paddled through the historic quayside, past old customs house buildings dating back from centuries long gone.
It was easy to stay on the right and make sure that we paddled down to the canal, where the waters immediately calmed and we gently bobbed along, occasionally rowing to ensure that we didn’t go too far to either side.
Apart from a few territorial swans, the trip was very relaxing, as we took in Devon’s gorgeous nature and marvelled at how we could see this just a short paddle from the city centre.
The Double Locks Pub
After about forty minutes, we reached the Double Locks Pub. A classic English country pub, this is generally visited by watersports enthusiasts or people who have made use of Saddles and Paddles’ bike hire services.
Boat users can tie their canoes to the dock and climb ashore for a variety of drinks and nibbles, including cider, beer and coffee.
As we were canoeing back to the city centre we just opted for a coffee (don’t drink and paddle!).
It’s an incredibly scenic location, and we took some time to watch the world go by before climbing back into our canoe.
Then, it was time to row back to the city centre!
The journey back
As we already knew the ropes (paddles) by now, it was a quick row back, despite the choppy waters when we reached the quay!
We eventually managed to dock and tied the canoe back.
You don’t get very wet with canoeing – which is one advantage of doing it over other outdoor water sports – although I did like having a dry bag for peace of mind.
We grabbed our bags (you’re welcome to leave anything with the Saddles and Paddles staff) and had a quick change before our next stop – Rockfish Exeter.
Can you go canoeing in Exeter if you haven’t got any experience?
It is fairly easy to pick up canoeing, but it’s a good idea to go with someone who has some experience at first.
If you’re worried, you can speak to the team at Saddles and Paddles before taking the boat out!
The only necessity is that anyone who is taking a canoe out with Saddles and Paddles must be able to swim for 25 metres unaided. This includes children.
Can children go canoeing in Exeter?
Children can go canoeing with Saddles and Paddles, but an adult over 16 years must accompany them.
An adult must complete a hire agreement form as well.
How to book canoeing in Exeter with Saddles and Paddles
If you want to book canoeing, other watersports or bike hire you can call the team at Saddles and Paddles directly on 01392 424241.
Canoe hire with Saddles and Paddles is a wonderful Exeter experience and an incredibly fun way to see the city!
Not only will you take in the historic quay, but you’ll take in some of the city’s gorgeous nature through its canals.