If I ever have kids, as soon as they’re old enough I’m sending them to sea in search of fortune and glory. I feel it’s the duty of any parent in this fine maritime city. Your beliefs may be slightly less Georgian than mine but, in keeping the kids entertained during the summer, you could still introduce them to the city’s seafaring soul.The Liverpool Water Sports Centre, in Queens Dock, is run by Local Solutions – the North West social enterprise body, doing excellent ‘not for profit’ work along the riverbank. It’s only a ten minute stroll away from the Albert Dock- but if you want to get a real taste of the city’s heritage, this is the place to head.
I first ventured down to the water sports centre many years ago, with my scout group. In those days, the spartan centre was more about intestinal fortitude, with a ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ attitude. After I fell in during the first ten minutes of kayaking on a wintery February morning, I’d considered never returning. But I did.
For me the centre was far more than a boredom reliever during the school holidays, I attended regularly during term term as well. With high quality instruction, strong links to national organisations and advice from centre staff I was able progress and qualify as an instructor when I was 17. For several years I earned my living teaching kayaking, and it’s a skill that has allowed me to travel and work in several different countries. All this wouldn’t have been possible if it hadn’t been for the excellent services offered by the centre.
Jutting out into Queens dock, the current, award-winning centre has been around for over 17 years, and its aim remains the same: to open water sports up to the local community, and return us all to the river. I was a regular attender from the age of 12 onwards and became hooked on kayaking. That’s a boat with a stick with a paddle on both ends, not canoeing – where you use a stick with a paddle only on one end. Canoeing is a fine sport but fails to command the rock’n’roll image of kayaking, and is a dangerous thing to confuse in a kayaker’s presence. Just so you know.
The sessions where inexpensive and fun, and I really enjoyed learning and developing a new skill. The current prices are £5.50 per hour for a child, and still maintain the ethos of making water-sports accessible to all, and include the use of equipment.Even after that first icy dunking many years ago, I was still always a kayaker first, but that was never the only option available. The centre provides a range of activities including sailing, canoeing, kayaking windsurfing and power-boating. Jon Hannaway, Watersports Centre manager says: “As well as individuals, group bookings are also catered for, and we work with schools, youth groups, parties and professional organisations”.
The Liverpool Watersports Centre is a great facility for individuals or groups of any age or ability. Booking a session down there could be a great fun afternoon out, your first step in a new career, the beginning of a life long hobby, or the perfect way to train your children for their first great sea voyage.
And if you get a dunking? There’s a coffee and cake shop on site to warm you up nicely afterwards.
Liverpool Watersports Centre, 110 Mariners Wharf, Queens Dock, Liverpool
Tel: 0151-708 9322