South West Sea Kayaking

During 2006-8 I researched, photographed and wrote ‘South West Sea Kayaking’, a detailed guide to the coasts and islands of South West England; from the Bristol Channel to the Isle of Wight. The second edition was published in April 2011. A third (slightly updated) print is being published in Spring 2014.

South West England

I use this blog to keep folk updated as to my adventures.

Mark Rainsley


Here follow, a selection of reviews of South West Sea Kayaking …


From Ocean Paddler Magazine

Click Here for review


Amazon reviews…. HERE



Rating: 5.0 out of 5 stars [5 of 5 Stars]

If you plan to paddle in the Southwest, this Guidebook is invaluable.

I am astonished at the quality of the publication both in terms of content and presentation. It really is first class.

The information Mark provides is insightful, useful and concise. The maps and images are superb. The layout makes for easy reading and adopts a clear, consistent and useable format.

Without a doubt, one of the best guidebooks I own.


From Canoe Kayak UK magazine,

SW Sea Kayaking is the latest instalment in the already impressive library of excellent guidebooks from publishers Pesda Press. As the name suggests the south west coast of England is described in fifty fantastic trips, from the Isle of Wight to the Severn Estuary.

Author Mark Rainsley paddled each trip and has done an excellent job of capturing the essence of the south coast in concise and informative descriptions, and the additional notes on local history, wildlife and geology mean that you can practically smell the sea air whilst reading it.

Alongside the descriptions and anecdotes sits all the essential navigational, map and tidal information that any sea kayaker may need making this book an essential read for anyone who wishes to explore this stunning part of England’s coastline. We also liked the book’s accessibility, yes there are some committing and challenging trips with its pages but there are just as many fun day trips suitable for the less experienced sea paddler. The layouts are user-friendly and full colour images throughout further help to bring the book alive. We’ve already earmarked half a dozen trips with post-it notes that we simply have to do this summer and if you read this book you’ll do the same.

Everyone involved in the production of this book should be very proud, and anyone with even the remotest interest in paddling on the sea should buy a copy as soon as possible and be prepared to be inspired.

48 thoughts on “South West Sea Kayaking

  1. Mark,
    Best wishes for your SW project. At present I live three fields back from Blue Anchor Bay near Watchet, Somerset. Life is a little unsettled at present but if I’m still here
    when you get round to this part of your trip I would like to meet you, paddle with you, if you have time.
    Yours aye,
    Den Healey

  2. “Yankee Jack Sails Again” by Tony James; A sentimental journey to the forgotten ports of the Southwest in a replica of a Bristol Channel Flatner. Highbridge to Exmouth, most of your planned itinerary. I have only just started to read it but I think you may find it interesting and perhaps helpful.

  3. Hello Mark,

    I found your blog through FuelMyBlog. We have blogs in the same category. Mine is called The Wired Kayaker which is mostly about, but not limited to, recreational kayaking and gadgets for outdoor life.

    I am very interested in the equipment that you are using while kayaking, everything from your paddle to your boat to the camera that you are using to photograph. I read in some post that you have a digital SLR. What do you do to keep it waterproof.

    I’d love to see a blog post on your equipment for this project. also I am very envious of how much fun you are going to have writing this book. And I love the pictures you have taken so far.

    I wrote up a blog post about your blog. And have subscribed to the site feed so I don’t miss an entry. Well, now I am off to continue to get caught up on your previous entries here on your blog.


  4. Hi there,
    Great Blog, and some great pictures too.
    I have one question, Long Island in Poole – who, where and how do i obtain permission to camp!!!??

    Many thanks

  5. Hi Mark, I have been reading your blog with much interest ! I live in Swanage and have just bought two “sit on top” Kayaks for myself and wife (and kids) and am really looking forward to getting out in the bay and having a look at the coast from a different point of view.
    Good luck with all your doing


  6. Hi Mark

    Good luck with your trip, beautiful images on your blog. I haven’t paddled since I was at college 15 years ago and I was given a Kayak a the weekend. I’m off to get wet this evening on the Somerset levels with a friend! Great looking site too.

    Good luck, hope you have a beautiful summer to get more superb photos.

    Mark Cox

  7. Hi Mark

    I am following your blog with interest and am looking forward to your book being published.

    I did quite a lot of kayaking when I wyour age at Uni in Scotland 30 years ago.

    I got a kayak for Christmas and got going again. I live in Dorchester.

    We have paddled from Chiswell Eastwards as far as Dancing Ledge (not in one go and some sections more than once). I did my CST in Poole Harbour last weekend but am not interested in doing other BCU tickets.We ‘ve also paddled the Fowey estuary and the Camel and the coast in that area.

    On July 22nd 4 of us are setting off from Poole and paddling west for 10 days. Should get to Plymouth/ Fowey depending on weather alcohol consumption and how much time we spend exploring estuaries.

    Pity your book wasn’t ready but perhaps it will be if we continue our journey later.

    Good luck with the book.

  8. Barbara, what a great trip you have planned! I paddled that coast as part of a trip from Southbourne to North Devon in 1997, and will be covering all of it again this summer.

    I have some info and notes that might be of use to you already completed, and I am happy to be used to bounce ideas off if that helps. Drop me an email at markATukriversguidebookDOTcoDotuk

    BTW if you were my age 30 years ago, that’d make you nearly 70 …

    Best wishes,


  9. Hi Mark

    Thanks for your message and your offer of help.

    I didn’t like to say that you look much much older than 22 in the photo and took you to be a straightforward honest sort of guy. I was obviously wrong! I did think that you may just look really old as Heather is obviouly so much younger than you!!!!

    No I am only a decade or so older than you. I did my early paddling at Uni in Scotland. The guy who instructed kayaking was Barry Smith who I think was the first to paddle around Cape Horn. this was 1978/79.

    On sunday 24th we are paddling from Lake pier to Poole Quay to take gifts to the RNLI life raft 24 hours in a life raft as part of the RNLI fundraising week.

    We then will paddle out on the ebb round to Swanage for lunch and then back in the afternoon. I know this is your home ground but we have never paddled out of the entrance and round Harry’s Rocks so it will be an adventure for us. It is neaps so there willl not be much tide running and we have an ebb until 12.00 and it is flooding until 20.00. Weather is forecast showery with light winds.


  10. Hi mark, I’m looking at getting a sea kayak, and I’m not very experienced, but my hubby has plans for us to kayak out to lundy next year!!! What sort of Kayak have you got, is it plastic or composite?
    Good luck by theway, it looks like you’ve been having an amazing time, wish I was doing it with you! Take care,

  11. Hi Mark

    Already thinking about plans for next summer and a few of us (intemediate) kayakers are planning to take 3 or so weeks off to explore the South West. Do you have a publication date for the book?


  12. Mark

    I am trying to promote a sea kayak symposium in Feb 2008. I work at a non profit DCC centre. We have the coastguard doing a wet winch among other cool workshops. If you can help me promote this in any way reply to me and I will send on my posters, flyers etc.


    Happy paddling

    Paul Hurrell
    Dorset LCO

  13. Mark,
    I’m a bit slow off the mark and have only just stumbled upon your website.I am a member of BOG (Bude old gits) kayak fishing club and am busy piecing together a circumnavigation of the Southwest from Holsworthy (where I live) via the Tamar all the way round Lands end and back up the Torridge to a few miles from Holsworthy to the north.

    By the time I finish I willactually have done most of it twice as I have to paddle back to the car.I intend to explore up every creek as far as it will float my kayak.Nearly got jammed in a culvert beneath Truro cathedral last weekend.

    Best section so far was nipping out to Lundy for a chicken flavored pot noodle and back (from Hartland Quay) on good friday.Flat but foggy and had close encounter with car transporter.Didn’t leave pot noodle to soak for long enough so sore tum on way back.

    You mention not being able to catch fish while paddling.If you troll a spinner or plastic sandeel while paddling you will catch a shedful of fish during the summer-bass,garfish,mackerel,pollack.Guaranteed.

    If you are unlucky you might foul hook a basking shark…oops.

    Book is looking great-top pics.

    Regards Rupert Kirkwood

  14. Mark

    I was the one who said hello on Flathom (short grey hair).

    It was North Avon Canoe Club NACC sea kayak training weekend organised by out L3 Ralph Childs.

    We enjoyed on weekend.

    Thanks for publishing our photo on your blog.

    Wayne Gibbens

  15. Mark,

    I have bought your book and find it very informative with a good sense of humour. Having just bought a sit-on sea kayak, living in Weymouth and having family in Torbay & Plymouth, the book very much covers the area of interest to me.

    One thing that puzzles me, on your maps there are green fern-like symbols for which I can find no entry in list of map symbols – what do they represent?


  16. Hi,

    I am planning to swim the uk coast in 2010 and am looking for any info, books, diaries, navigation manuals etc, all relating to previous expeditions in kayak as these are the nearest I can expect to my trip. I shall be towing my raft ( click projects, finning craft. The raft contains the usual camping gear and two weeks food and water fully loaded. I intend to be mostly unsupported, but will on ocasions have some land and sea (rib)support. I shall make use of the white sail, but not the full rig.

    Can you direct me to any material that you consider would be important to help plan each days swim, tides and in particular the more difficult areas to swim around. My speed will be half to one third of a kayak and limited to ten mile open crossings at the most, around 5 hours each. I will need escape routes to come ashore (almost at will) and avoid dumping surf, reefs and miles of cliff. When the chips are down, turning back may never be an option.

    I feel to start around April, from the South West in order to get to Scotland during the longest hours of daylight, to assist me in getting around the more difficult areas. But I base this decision on no evidence that even clockwise is best.

    Hope to hear from you

    Haydn Welch

  17. Mark,

    We spent the last summer paddling and flopping in the waves of the Ilses of Scilly on inflatable kayaks. On return we finally got a couple of sea kayaks and took off and around the South West. I say out and about until we read your book. It has been such a help knowing where,when and how to get to the places we had missed. I’d also like to thank you for decreasing the arguements between us on where we are going today. Instead, your books gives a focus and if not the exact same trip its a great start. Thanks very much :)

    This year we return to Scilly with the new kayaks and hopefully get more water time in. Anyway, perhaps bump into you around the south west sometime and I’ll buy you a Doombar as a thank you.

  18. Hey Mark!

    Here’s a blast from the past! Glad you’re surviving and clearly thriving! Congrats on the kayaking, books and blogs etc. You are clearly a kayaking legend these days. Good stuff.

    I am now a billionaire, married to a model and living on my own private island, collecting classic cars. Well, something like that. It’d be good to catch up some time.

    By the way, just in case you’re wondering – I shared a room with you in our first year at Lancaster Uni about 176 years ago.


  19. Hi there,

    My husband and I are coming to Scotland in September for a wedding. We would like to get in some kayaking while we are there. I was wondering if you could recommend the name of some kayaking guides/tours. We are open to anywhere in the U.K. We live in BC, Vancouver Island and. We are intermediate paddlers.

    Any info would be appreciated. Thanks,

  20. Just got the guide book, looks great – it’s well structured with good illustrations.

    If I were to suggest a modification for the second edition it would be the inclusion of ‘out and back’ options for the paddles. I paddle with my partner, and we only have a single car – so for a day trip the primary option will be returning to the same location. Information on best points to start the trip, point in the tide etc would be helpful.

    • Thanks – yes I spotted that my copy is the second edition just after I posted. Anyway, out and backs would be of interest to me – and perhaps others? Maybe even overnight recommendations?

  21. Mark i am the Training Officer for the DSRT Ashburton Devon would you get in touch for a chat ,im not to ofay with this electrical writing ,as a way of introduction so to speak and that im kosher .i was in attendance on the Night/Morning that we recovered your friend from the River Dart after his fatal accident .hope to hear from you in the near future Regards Mickey

  22. Hi Mark,
    What are amazing projects! Yeah, I wish to explore the England’s coastline by kayak and your information is really helpful for me. Ebook ordered and hope that I will receive it soon :)

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