Nanny Pat’s days out: canoeing with a toddler

Child in a life jacket with a hat on canoeing down the river

Today we visited the beautiful creekside village of Golant, near Fowey, to join David and Karen at Encounter Cornwall on a canoe trip up the River Fowey.

Canoeing on the River Fowey is a great family friendly activity
Pretty Golant was the starting place for our canoeing adventure with Encounter Cornwall

I must admit to feeling some trepidation about the responsibility of a precious grandchild in a two-man canoe, although both of us had canoed before (but not together!). However, the weather was calm and sunny and help was on hand if we needed it.

Jasmine was wrapped up really warm as she was going to be sitting still and it is always colder on the water. She was kitted out with a brilliant little buoyancy aid, especially useful to keep her upright when she fell asleep on the way home…

Encounter Cornwall run trips suitable for parents with young children
Kitted up and ready to go!

We confidently paddled off from the boatyard (parking in the car park next door) and joined a small group of adventurers paddling with the tide en route for the beautiful village of Lerryn. Trips always try to take advantage of the tide and paddle with the flow, making the job easier. We stuck close to the bank in order to spot wildlife better. Karen and David, armed with binoculars and vast knowledge of local wildlife, pointed out creatures which we would have surely missed.

Encounter Cornwall run family friendly canoe trips on the River Fowey
David and Karen from Encounter Cornwall run family friendly canoe trips

I found the paddling quite easy once I had got over the fear of Jasmine diving out, and she settled down to watch the banks slide past, chatting away about what she could see. Our first stop was at the historic boathouse of the Penquite estate, a favourite haunt of King Edward VII when he was the Prince of Wales.

Canoeing is a good way to spot wildlife in Cornwall
Gliding down the river, spotting wildlife

David guided us past the junction where the River Lerryn joins the Fowey and we were able to see the Fowey continuing up towards Lostwithiel via st Winnow and the lovely church there. We took the right hand fork and headed on up the creek with beautiful Ethy woods on our left hand side.

Most of the estuaries in south Cornwall are rias (drowned river valleys) and I love the way that the trees come right down to the water, giving a sense of privacy and peace and only a hint of what lies within.

Soon we arrived at Lerryn and came ashore for a leg stretch and a welcome coffee at the lovely village shop there. There are toilets here by the car park and picnic benches on the green alongside the river. The tide was starting to turn as we headed back down the river but the wind had picked up, so paddling home was a little more testing. We marvelled at the lovely properties tucked down by the water’s edge and David told us about the days when Lerryn was a bustling port.

Encounter Cornwall run guided canoeing trips on the River Fowey suitable for families
David in action

Jasmine fell asleep on the way home (I tell myself it was the gentle motion and my confident paddling) and I could not believe that three hours had passed since we left – time had flown by. We spotted so many different birds on our trip, including herons, redshanks, cormorants, black headed gulls, egrets, and a glimpse of a blue flash as a kingfisher darted by.

Canoeing with a toddler is easy with Encounter Cornwall
This is the life!

Canoeing with Encounter Cornwall

Encounter Cornwall run a variety of kayaking trips from their base at Golant. They’re a family run business with green credentials, helpful, friendly and knowledgeable – I highly recommend them. You can find the details of all their trips on their website (they also run a café here in the summer, and Karen’s home baked cakes are delicious). I’m off to Fowey next, so watch this space!

Have you tried canoeing with a toddler in Cornwall (or any other adventurous activities with preschoolers)? We’d love to hear about your experiences. What would you recommend? Leave a comment below, post on our Facebook page or tweet @Bosinver and join the conversation.

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