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Best Peak District Paddle Sports Destinations: Our Top 5 Picks

Updated: Apr 24

Here at The Adventure Service, we love to get out on the water and do various paddle sport activities. Mainly in the summer months, groups will head over to Girton to enjoy a day’s paddling.

While we primarily operate at Girton for our water activities, the Peak District also offers fantastic paddle sport opportunities for those seeking some more adventure.

Cromford Canal

The Cromford Canal dates to 1794, running 14.5 miles and once connected Langley Mill to the Erewash Canal. During its history, it was home to the 3rd longest canal tunnel in the world!

At the time of writing though, only a short section of the Cromford Canal can be paddled on, due to it falling into disuse. Nevertheless, it still offers a great chance to take a peek into the history of the canal, with a route that take in the Leawood Pumphouse. And if you pick the right day, you can even see it in action!

British Canoeing have published a route that takes in the history of the current open stretch of water, along with a café and places to get out and explore. The route takes 1-2 hours, depending on your previous paddle experience and is around 3 miles long. Follow the link to get access to the route.

There is also some other important information that can be found on the British canoeing site that relates to tickets and booking, which is important, especially in the summer months. Find out more here.

Adventurers paddling at Girton, on stand up paddle boards

Our adventurers enjoying paddle boarding at Girton

Carsington Water

Carsington Water is one of the UK’s biggest reservoirs and offers a wide range of water sports activities.

Carsington is one of the best places to learn the ropes when it comes to paddling, as it offers equipment hire for activities such as windsurfing, sailing and standup paddle boarding. Self-launch tickets are also available, for those who already have their own kit.

The body of water holds nearly 8 billion gallons of water, so there’s plenty of space.. Though, like Cromford Canal, it does ger very busy in the summer months. So, turning up early is always a good idea.

Tittesworth Reservoir

Located on the edge of the Peak District National Park, around an hour and a half from our Top Valley and Mansfield Woodhouse centres, Tittesworth Reservoir offers another large body of water for first time paddlers to get introduced to the water.

Boasting a 6.6km shore length and being the 6th largest reservoir in the Peak District, similar to Carsington, there is plenty of space for paddlers to enjoy.

Again, like Carsington, the Reservoir has the option to hire equipment, so those that are just getting into the sport can still give it a go. You can find more information about booking here.

Peak Forest Canal

As was the case with Cromford Canal, Peak Forest Canal was opened back in 1794 to transport limestone from the quarries of Derbyshire. With a length just shy of 15 miles, Peak Forest Canal gives a paddler ample opportunity to explore.

Steeped in history, the Peak Forest Canal provides many different routes of varying length, for all abilities. It’s the further away of the 5 destinations on this list, but it’s still within a 2-hour drive from Top Valley (which is the further centre away).

Due to its length, there is plenty of places to park and routes to take. Go paddling provide a useful guide on where to park and the routes to paddle.

a group out paddling in a canoe

A group of Adventurers in the canoes

Chesterfield Canal

Last, but by no means least, is Chesterfield Canal. Chesterfield Canal is the longest canal on the list, with almost 50 miles of waterways to explore, with most of the canal being navigable.

A favourite route amongst the staff at The Adventure Service, is Hollingwood Hub to Tapton Lock. Being able to hire equipment from the Hollingwood Hub makes it the perfect starting point for your adventure. This route is also right on our doorstep, especially for our Chesterfield site.

However, this route is a little further than the ones that we have suggested so far, coming in at around 8 miles and it is expected to be completed in around 2-4 hours. So, some paddle experience is probably a good idea before attempting this route. As you meander through the Derbyshire countryside, remember to keep an eye out for the history and points of interest on route. There’s plenty!

Don’t Forget to Be Safe

Though getting out on the water can be enjoyable, it’s important to remember that safety is your number one priority. To help maximise your safety, follow these steps below:

Prepare for All Weather: Dress appropriately and check the forecast.

Plan Your Route: Let someone know where you plan to paddle and when you expect to be back and make sure you understand the river conditions.

Practice: Start in calm waters if you're new to the sport.

Always wear a buoyancy aid: Wearing a buoyancy aid can save your life in an emergency.

Check Licenses: Ensure you have the required permits.

Get Paddling!

Now you’re well equipped with the knowledge of where to go and how to be safe, grab your paddle and head off into the Peak District on your next water adventure. We might even see you out there!

Ready to become an Adventurer?

We are dedicated to helping our Adventurers achieve their potential through adventure and we’re always looking for new Adventurers to join us on our journey.

Follow the link to fill out our referral form, email or call 01623 232102 and one of our staff team will be on hand, to help you get you started on your journey with us.

See you out there!


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