Chichester Canal Paddle Boarding

At TJ Board Hire we have been paddling on Chichester Canal and providing lessons and hires at this venue for the past 5-years, and have seen the popularity of this sport and this location grow rapidly during this time.

Chichester Canal provides an ideal flat-water venue for paddlers to learn and progress their SUP skills quickly. The sheltered, picturesque location in the heart of West Sussex allows the feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere, whilst being a stone’s throw from the Chichester City Centre. Chichester Canal is a haven for wildlife with swans, herons, voles, cormorants and kingfishers usually spotted whilst out on the water.

Swans checking out the Hatha Paddle board on Chichester Canal

The Chichester Canal is a charitable organisation and run by Chichester Canal Trust. Therefore, it has its own licensing rules and is not covered by a Canals and Rivers Trust License or British Canoe Union. A license to use the Chichester Canal can be obtained by either popping into the canal café or by downloading an application form. The cost is currently £30 for 12 months, or £6 per day, an annual license starts from the day you purchase and is valid for one calendar year. All proceeds support the maintenance of the canal, which is run by a team of volunteers who work extremely hard to ensure that the waterway is kept in fantastic condition for us all to enjoy.

Tea and cake at Canal Cafe

If you have your own paddleboard, you can launch from the Chichester Canal basin. There are some limited free parking spaces for canal users and there are plenty of on-street parking and paid car parks around the city centre, meaning a short walk with your board to get to the water. You can also buy your license to use the canal from here. From the basin, there is around 2.5 miles that is maintained by the Trust and can be explored from Chichester, through Hunston along to Donnington. It is a pretty, tranquil stretch of water, paddling past trees and fields. The stretch of water between Donnington and Chichester Marina is not maintained and is not easily accessible, or navigable as it is very over grown and weedy, and remains a quiet haven for wildlife.

Canal Boat on Chichester Canal

Our paddleboard business operates from Hunston. Hunston is a small, residential village a couple of miles outside of Chichester. Parking here is very limited with a small car park close by.  A short walk from the car park is a launching pontoon. From here, you can paddle right, under the bridge towards the canal basin (1.5 miles) This is an ideal 30 – 40 minute leisurely paddle and you can stop off at the canal cafe for a slice of cake. If you go left from Hunston, you can paddle for around ¾ of a mile before reaching a dead end and having to turn around.

Paddle Board hire at Chichester Canal

Top things to know when paddling on Chichester Canal.

Purchase a license to allow you to access the water. Water users do so at their own risk.

There is a large Canal boat that runs trips several times per day, as well as working parties; these have right of way. When you see the boats, move into the side to give them plenty of room to pass. The boat drivers are friendly and used to paddlers and this etiquette ensures a good relationship is maintained.

All canoe and paddleboarding group sessions are to be supervised by an authorised instructor (parents or guardians in the case of family groups).

When accessing the water from the pontoons, it is safest to do this by getting onto your knees into the safe position and moving into the middle of the Canal before standing. When returning to the pontoons, again drop to your knees before approaching.

Ensure that pontoons are kept free for launching and recovery. These are not for picnics or fishing. There are smaller fishing pontoons dotted along the canal.

Avoid any damage to the canal banks and vegetation. Access is via the towpath side only.

When out paddling, keep an eye out for anglers fishing from the fishing platforms and give their lines a wide berth. Sometimes these can be hidden and take paddlers by surprise.

When inflating and deflating boards around either Hunston or the canal basin during the early mornings, or the evenings, please be mindful of local residents and avoid noisy car pumps and board deflations. We recommend purchasing one of these silencers if you are planning to deflate around any residential area.

Stay clear of the swans and all other wildlife. They are generally very used to paddlers and if given space they will not be interested in you. This is particularly important when the swans have young cygnets.

Take a dry bag with some cash for stopping off at the canal café. The coffee and cake is highly recommended.

Whilst out on the water, if you see any bits of litter, pick it up and dispose of it at the end of your paddle.

If you have not paddle boarded before, we would recommend booking in for a beginner session to learn the basics and allow a more positive experience and faster progression.

If you are interested in having a lesson, or hiring a paddleboard on Chichester Canal, or learning more about joining up with our Chichester SUP Club group, please drop us an email to We meet regularly for paddles to the pub, as well as arranging paddles at other locations, we are an active and friendly group of paddlers of all ages and abilities.

We hope that you enjoy paddling on Chichester Canal as much as we do, let us know by commenting below.