Tyne Bridges tour, Newcastle
Famed for their seven bridges spanning the Tyne Gorge, the twin cities of Newcastle and Gateshead are best experienced from the water. Cullercoats Bike & Kayak have been running this tour since 2014 and say that every one has been a sell out. As well as helping out with paddling techniques, the qualified river guides will explain some of the history behind the river and city as you paddle beneath the bridges. The trips last three hours, cost £42.50 and the minimum age is 14
Manchester Ship Canal cruise
Cruise along the Manchester Ship Canal with Mersey Ferries for a fascinating insight into the industrial history of the north-west. Depending on the departure date, the full-day cruise leaves from either Liverpool or Salford docks, passing through a succession of Victorian-era locks and swing bridges. Blue Badge Guides provide the commentary and there’s a bar onboard. Cruises from Manchester to Liverpool include time for a stopover. Cruises last five to six hours and the return journey is by coach. Tickets cost £42pp, including return coach transfer.
Pub and Paddle, Norwich
For a relaxed introduction to canoeing, the Pub and Paddle tours available in Norwich are hard to beat. Pick up your Canadian canoe at the Red Lion pub on Bishop’s Bridge, a peaceful part of the River Wensum where motorboats are not allowed. Once you’ve got the hang of paddling, you can make your way out of the city centre and into the surrounding countryside with suggested stops at a selection of inviting riverside pubs. There are three canoe routes available, two of which are one-way trips, so if you don’t want to paddle back the way you came you can arrange for your canoe to be picked up at your final pitstop and make your way back to the city centre by taxi. Prices from £20pp for a four-hour tour. Evening paddles cost £12.50pp for two hours.
SUP yoga, Salford Quays
SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) is one of the fastest growing water sports in Britain, so it was only a matter of time before some enterprising soul decided that doing a sun salutation on a small floating board was a good idea. The idea is that having to adjust to the movement of the board on water will enhance your balance and maximize core stability. Normal yoga clothing can be worn, or you can request a wetsuit. You can try it out at Salford Quays at the Helly Hansen Watersports Centre. £13 a session.
Mudlarking on the Thames, London
For an unusual and captivating insight into the history of London, join one of the popular Thames foreshore explorations run by the Thames Explorer Trust. Guided by archaeologists, the two-hour sessions, which focus on three different locations – Millennium Bridge, Rotherhithe and Greenwich – will help you to find and identify historic artefacts that have washed up on the foreshore (though participants are asked not to take anything home with them). Commonly found items include old clay pipes, pieces of pottery, military buttons and bones. Families can also sign up for river-dipping sessions to learn about the animals that live in or near the Thames. The trips cost £10 a adult and £6 a child.