The weather is getting seriously warm in the capital now, and cooling off the water is getting more and more appealing. Thankfully, while it may not be directly on the coast of an ocean, London has plenty of great watersports centres to visit and try out new and exciting activities. Whether you want to master sailing, train in SCUBA diving or just simply have fun on a paddle board, we’ve made a list of some of the best places to get in touch with the aquatic side of life.
The Lee Valley White Water Centre
If you want to feel like a professional on the water, then you want to head over to The Lee Valley White Water Centre in Waltham Cross, just a little way out from north London. The centre is the where the canoe slalom events in the 2012 Olympics were held, and nowadays is open to the public. You can get up to plenty of rafting, paddling and flat water activities here, with rafting priced at £50 per person, and packages for events are available.
Address: Station Rd, Waltham Cross EN9 1AB
Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre
The Docklands area in the western part of Millwall is another fab place for some water sport fun. You’ll be able to do plenty of kayaking and other water activities, as well as open water swimming if that takes your fancy. You can get a yearly membership for £150 a year, and there’s open and private sessions to take part in.
Address: 235A Westferry Rd, London E14 3QS
Wimbledon Park Watersports Centre
Anyone for… boating? While SW19 is most famous for its tennis and Pimms, the lake in Wimbledon Park (one of the biggest in South London) is a great place for watersports. The centre itself may be pretty small, but there’s plenty of different boats and boards to choose from, with canoes, kayaks and sail boats of varying sizes. For adults you can have private courses or free sailing around the lake, and for kids there’s parties and multi-watersports. During the Championships you’ll be able to hear the roar of crowds from Centre Court located not far from the other side of the lake.
Address: Wimbledon Park Sports Centre, Wimbledon Park, Home Park Rd, London SW19 7HX
SCUBA Diving Centres
SCUBA diving is quite different from other sports, namely because the goal is to stay underwater rather than above. It also requires some training to be able to go on proper dives, and while there’s not any oceans in Central London there are several diving centres like London School of Diving, London Diving Centre Camden, Dive Force, London Scuba Centre, Timuna Diving Centre and others. You don’t have to sign up for a full on diving course, but you many of these places offer taster sessions to get a feel of things, and is a gateway into the blue abyss.
Hampstead Heath Pools
The lakes of Hampstead Heath are perhaps some of the most famous open swimming locations in the UK, and certainly in London. For some, it’s become part of a lifestyle of braving cold temperatures and the ponds’ resident ducks, and having a sense of refreshing freedom. The Mixed Pond is open to the public and lifeguarded outside of winter, but the Men’s and Ladies’ ponds are open all year round. Some might say it’s more madness than sport, but that’s for you to decide.
Address: Hampstead Heath, London
London Watersports Centre at the Royal Docks
Another docks watersports centre, the Royal Docks offers a great place to go sailing, rowing and paddling with a variety of facilities to enjoy. There’s even raft building if you want to test your engineering and construction skills. There’s also a 2000m rowing course with seven different lanes, and a rowing tank, gym and even a restaurant, meaning you’re well catered here.
Address: 1012 Dockside Rd, London E16 2Q
While you might not see any red hatted bears sailing past you here, Paddington Basin does offer paddle boarding in lovely idyllic surroundings. Paddle-boarding around the canals here allows you to travel in style through this part of the city, as long as you don’t fall off in front of passers-by. You can set off from Merchant’s Square and get a quite unique look at the views around the Grand Union Canal, but make sure to keep an eye on the road (or, water.)
Address: Merchant Sq, London W2 1JZ