Spring is the perfect time to take your kayaking to the next level. As the weather starts to warm up, new opportunities for kayaking adventures emerge. Whether you're a seasoned kayaker or just starting out, it's essential to prepare for the new season.
This time of year can be truly stunning. Winter has been and gone, the trees are blossoming and sprouting new leaves, and the wildlife is out in full force to prepare for breeding. Spring is one of the most beautiful times to get out on the water in your kayak if you love the great outdoors and nature’s beauty.
This is the best time of year to expand your skillset — whether you’re completely new to the sport or have been kayaking for years. It’s also the time to prepare for the year ahead. It’s the perfect time to improve your fitness, invest in your kayaking year, and plan out your trips for the year.
In this article, we’ll be looking at how you can best prepare for the spring season ahead. We’ll give you a few essential tips for the start of the season as well as a bit of inspiration by providing you with the low down on three of the most beautiful spring locations to kayak in during the Spring here in Ireland.
6 Tips to Start Your Kayaking Season This Spring
Here are some tips for spring kayaking to help you get ready for your kayaking adventures this year:
1. Check Your Equipment
Before heading out on the water, it's important to check your kayak, paddle, personal flotation device (PFD), and any extra kit you rely on out on the water to make sure they are in good working condition. Make any necessary repairs or replace any worn-out gear before heading to the water.
Even if you’ve stored your kit over the winter, you may encounter issues when you get to the bank. Checking over your kit before you head out will ensure you don’t drag your kit from the car down to the water’s edge just to find out you have a cracked paddle, a split in your kayak, or a problem with your PFD.
2. Get in Shape
Kayaking can be physically demanding, so it's important to get into shape before the season begins. Start by exercising regularly, including cardio and strength training. This will help you build the endurance and strength you need to tackle longer trips.
Kayaking is a great way to stay in shape and you’ll improve your fitness as the season progresses. However, if you want to hit the ground running and start your spring with some ambitious adventures, we definitely recommend training. Even an hour a day will make all the difference — allowing you to paddle harder when the season starts
3. Prepare Yourself
Safety should always be your top priority when kayaking. Refresh yourself on kayaking safety, recovery techniques, and navigation. Make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment, including a personal floatation device, whistle, and a signaling device, in case of an emergency.
Make sure all your safety equipment is up to scratch and plan out your routes and kayaking locations well in advance. This is a good time to check the weather — spring weather can be unpredictable. You should also keep an eye on the water levels. Had a lot of rain over the last couple of weeks?
The water levels can be high at this time of the year. In lakes, this can cover up hazardous topography such as large boulders and sunken trees that in lower water conditions may be visible and easily avoided. In the river, high water can be even more hazardous. More water in the river systems means stronger flows, new rapids, and potentially dangerous debris flowing down the river.
Prepare yourself well. Make sure you’re kit is up to scratch, you’ve refreshed your memory on safety prep and procedures, and check up on the weather and water conditions before heading out.
If you don’t feel confident when the water level is high or the wind is up, just stay at home — there’s always another opportunity to head out kayaking.
4. Plan Your Trips
Spring is the perfect time to plan your kayaking trips for the season. Research new locations, talk to other kayakers, and make a list of the places you want to visit. It’s a great time to go exploring new environments in search of potential long-distance routes for the summertime.
Even if you don’t bring your kayak, spring is a good time to go walking the banks of the river to seek out new routes. This will help you plan what kit you’ll need as well as plot out new camping spots and ways around weirs, unpassable rapids, and shallow areas.
Make sure to check the weather and water conditions before heading out, and don’t kayak alone in potentially dangerous environments that you haven’t explored before.
5. Invest in Some New Gear
If you're looking to upgrade your kayaking gear, spring is the perfect time to do it. Consider investing in a new kayak, paddle, or PFD. Look for gear that is comfortable, lightweight, and durable.
Stock up on consumables such as gas for your camping stove, waterproofing spray or wax for your boots and clothes, and water purification tablets (if you use these on long-distance trips).
Three Beautiful Spring Kayaking Locations: Ireland
Spring is a beautiful time of the year to go kayaking no matter where you are in the country or the world. However, if you’re living here in Ireland, there are a few places that are unbelievably stunning during the spring that should be on your list if you’re planning a few kayaking excursions.
Here are three of the best spring locations to explore during spring in Ireland:
1. The Lower Bann
The 58 km Lower Bann canoe trail, stretching from Lough Neagh to the Antrim coast, offers a distinctive way to explore the stunning river. As you paddle through varying landscapes, you'll encounter both calm water and rapid currents.
You can choose to do the trail in daily segments or embark on a weekend adventure, taking breaks at one of the trail's many campsites or B&Bs. This is a great way to explore some of Ireland's finest countryside during the springtime. Each stretch is diverse and unique. You’ll encounter wooded banksides, open fields, and urban sections.
Many B&Bs and campsites on the river offer transfers, showers, drying facilities, and storage for your kayak and equipment.
2. The River Barrow
The River Barrow is an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Spanning 192 km from its source in Glenbarrow in the Slieve Blooms, Co Laois, it winds through Laois, Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny, and Wexford before reaching the Suir and flowing into the sea in Waterford.
The best way to experience the Barrow is from the river. It offers a balance of calm water and the occasional weir for an added thrill, making it an excellent choice for a day trip or a longer excursion if time allows.
The River Barrow offers some idyllic surroundings and wild camping is possible on selected sections of the bank. If you want to explore some remote scenery and navigate through some stunning old villages this spring, this river is the place to be. I’d definitely consider the river if you’re looking for a multi-day kayaking adventure from fresh into saltwater.
3. Lough Derg
Lough Derg, Ireland's second-largest lake, spans three counties: Galway, Clare, and Tipperary. Its vast size offers stunning landscapes, quaint villages, and endless activities. The recently established Lough Derg Blueway is the ideal location for an outdoor weekend getaway.
The lake boasts 160 km of designated paddling trails, divided into 21 sections ranging from beginner-friendly to challenging for experienced paddlers. With plenty of access points, there are also several picnic-friendly spots and overnight options for multi-day adventures. Waterways Ireland has installed shower and toilet facilities along the trails.
Nature enthusiasts should not miss paddling to Portumna Forest Park on the north shore of the lake. The park has been a breeding ground for recently reintroduced white-tailed sea eagles for several years, offering a chance to spot these magnificent birds from the water. Spring can be a good time to watch the sea eagles hunt and being at water level offers the best view to see these birds in action.
Are You Ready for Spring?
Spring kayaking is a great way to explore the outdoors and have some fun. By preparing ahead of time, you'll be able to make the most of the season and enjoy every minute on the water. Don’t hesitate, now is the time to start prepping for the season ahead.
Watching winter turn to spring is by far one of the most exhilarating experiences — something that’ll get you out of those winter blues and ready for another fine year out on the water.
It doesn’t matter whether you head out for day paddles or multi-day adventures, spring is full of surprises and is an exciting time to explore nature. So, get ready, get out there, and enjoy the start of a new kayaking season!
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