Scots watersports boom led by canoeing popularity

Increasing numbers of Scots are taking up canoeing. Picture: Contributed

Increasing numbers of Scots are taking up canoeing. Picture: Contributed

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INCREASING numbers of Scots are taking to the water, with canoeing now more popular than across the UK last year, a survey by industry body the British Marine Federation showed today.

Nearly one in four adults - 1 million - took part in watersports, which was 7 percentage points higher than in 2013.

These included swimming, fishing and surfing.

Boating - such as sailing, canoeing and rowing - also enjoyed a boom, with 287,000 adults taking part. That is nearly 7 per cent of the population, and was up by 2.4 points.

Canoeing was the most popular activity, involving 152,000 people, or 3.6 per cent of Scots - compared to the UK average of 3.1 per cent.

More than 23,500 Scottish households own canoes and kayaks, which account for almost half the country’s 50,000 boat owners.

Other areas which showed increases included canal boating and power boating.

Watersports, especially among regulars, continues to be male dominated, but female participation has returned to its previous highest level of 6.2 per cent since the survey was first conducted in 2002.

British Marine Federation chief executive Howard Pridding said: “The figures for the number of people participating in boating and watersports are encouraging, but there’s also plenty of room for growth.

“Getting out on the water is a hugely enjoyable pastime, whether you’re a casual participant or much more of an enthusiast, and the marine industry is in great shape to provide plenty of opportunities to enable this.”

Josie Saunders, a spokeswoman for Scottish Canals, said: “These results reflect what we have seen for some years now on Scotland’s canals, where watersports, particularly canoeing and kayaking, have become increasingly popular.

“More than 2,000 people took to the Great Glen Canoe Trail in 2014 – the route’s busiest year ever.

“Last year also saw the launch of the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail and the Glasgow to Edinburgh Canoe Trail, which will provide enjoyment for many hundreds of people each year.

“Our focus is to bring greater animation to our inland waterways through projects such as the Kelpies, the Falkirk Wheel and our Living on Water residential mooring initiative, giving people more reason to visit the canals and bringing vibrancy and economic benefits to the communities along their banks.

“Not only are they great places to have fun, they’re also ideal locations for a range of activities to help you stay fit and healthy, from angling and cycling to walking and paddling.

“We’re particularly delighted more women are taking the opportunity to get out and enjoy all that Scotland, from its coastlines to its canals, has to offer.”

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