Location : Wokingham, Berkshire, RG10 0TH
We have found a great place for canoeing, paddle boarding and sailing with the kids that doesn’t require yearly membership and is not overly expensive. It is located just outside Wokingham in Berkshire, has a very large lake with equipment hire and changing facilities. It’s not available all the time for casual pay and play so check the website for more details.
Awesome day out. I really wanted to try out the paddle boarding and it turned out to be great fun. It took me a little time to get the canoe going in a straight line but once I did, I was zooming around. I paddle boarded for about an hour before we had to get them back to shore. We did manage to go right around the massive island in the middle of the lake. I didn’t fall in once but did laugh when Josh went in head first after falling off dad’s paddle board. Great afternoon out!
Stuff to take with you – wetsuits if you have them (rent there if not), your swimmers and towel, snacks, some change for the vending machine and a camera (water proof if you have one).
Claire, my wife found this one. I could not believe our luck when we went to try it out. In my younger days as a kid I had canoed around North Yorkshire and was desperate to give Emma and Josh the same experience. Being land-locked in Berkshire does not make this the easiest of things to organise. We arrived at one of the pay and play sessions at Dinton Pastures. We parked at the first car park signed from the main road off Davis Street only to discover we were at the wrong end of the lake! The water sports are based on the north east side. There is a second car park for this sign posted just after the pub on Sandford Lane. At reception, we filled in a quick disclaimer, paid our £30 (two single canoes and one double for one hour) and got changed. The change rooms are functional with a couple of showers. Don’t expect it to be like your local virgin Active club. Once changed, we were efficiently provided with buoyancy aids, paddles, one open top canoe, one sit on canoe and one open top double canoe (we chose what we wanted). Emma jumped on the sit-on canoe and took to paddling it like a duck to water. After a few minutes of working out how to keep going in a straight line she was off across the lake. Claire had the single sit-in canoe with Josh and me in the double. It’s a big lake with plenty of paddling to do around the central island. The hour passed quite quickly with all the fun we were having. The canoes were stable enough for Emma’s first ever attempt to be successful. None of us actually finished up in the water, which is a great bonus.
They do also hire paddle boards. These are basically big, stable surf boards that you stand up on and move using a long single ended paddle. We had to give these a go. We hired two boards (£8 for both boards for 30 minutes) and set out on our first attempt. Emma and I both have full wetsuits, Josh had a shorty wetsuit, which on a seven year old isn’t the tightest of fitting suits. He was not allowed on his own board (8 is the minimum age for this) so sat on the front mine. Josh was insistent at standing up, which he managed easily a few times. After about five minutes of mucking around though he did fall in. For the British climate I would recommend full wetsuits as the shorty wasn’t keeping him warm. You can hire wetsuits for £3. Josh got changed leaving me and Emma to get to grips with paddling. Initially the boards were difficult to get going in a straight line, especially since there was a bit of a breeze which tends to turn them around. After about ten minutes though we had both got the hang of it and now Emma was zooming across the lake faster than I could keep up with her. Given it was her first try at this she picked it up in no time. The hire guy told us we could either kneel or stand on the boards. We went straight for the hero status, stood up from the offset and didn’t fall in once. The boards are pretty stable. An hour later, we had navigated the whole lake and was ready for a drink and a chocolate bar from the vending machines. There are a number of picnic tables overlooking the lake where we sat and refuelled.
It was a great afternoon out. So much so we are looking at going back to do more paddle boarding as soon as the weekend comes around again. We didn’t try sailing or the Segway course but might give this a go another time. Emma and Josh were 10 and 7 and had a whale of a time. They were both tired when we got home though.
There is also a nature walk around the lake and possibly some playgrounds somewhere but we will leave that to another time to explore.
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