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New wave of paddlers urged to maintain eco-friendly traditions

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As a perfect post-lockdown activity – out in the fresh air and socially distanced away from crowds – it’s no wonder that a new wave of people have taken up paddle sports during the last year.

As well as being thrilled by the increased interest in water sports from a participation perspective, Canoe Wales are also buoyed by the knock-on effects that the surge in popularity might have on a cause close to their hearts – the environment.

Paddlers in Wales have a well-earned reputation for looking after the environment in which they enjoy their sport. It’s obvious to say that cleaner waters are more fun to paddle, and that increased biodiversity both in and alongside the water makes for a better all-round experience. 

So, to coincide with Earth Day 2021 (22 April), Canoe Wales are calling on the thousands of newbies taking to the waters across Wales this Spring to maintain the tradition established by more experienced paddlers of carrying bin bags as they travel along our waterways and filling them with any litter they encounter. 

Boats on water


Alistair Dickson, CEO at Canoe Wales, said: “As paddlers we have a responsibility to help preserve our beautiful Welsh rivers, lakes and coastline. Removing litter has always been a feature of the paddling community, and we really hope that continues to be the case. 

“It’s also really important for everyone to be aware of the actions they can take to help prevent the spread of invasive animals and plants which can have disastrous effects on our waterways. Think ‘Check, Clean, Dry’. It’s vital to ensure nothing gets carried from one water to another on our boats or equipment. There’s plenty of useful information on our website.” 

To lower the amount of nasties spreading between different waters, Canoe Wales have been awarded funding from Welsh Government to install new washdown stations at busy sites, as well as money to create new disabled platforms at Llandegfedd, Cosmeston, Llandysul, Plas y Brenin and Llyn Padarn to improve accessibility.

With a growing desire among people to get in, on, or by water, Canoe Wales are working with Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales and other stakeholders to make rights over access to water clearer. It’s a complex situation, but one which Canoe Wales are determined to play their part in bringing clarity to so that it’s easier for everyone to understand which waters they can use without the fear of being challenged. 

Sustainability is also at the heart of this desire, as Phil Stone, Places to Paddle Manager at Canoe Wales explains: “We’re really proud that our sport is one of the greenest, but it would be even better if people had more freedom to use the waters near to them, so we’re pressing for clarity in the laws about access to water similar to those that are already found in Scotland.”

To find out more about paddle sports in Wales, visit

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