Dave Halsall - Singing Paddles

Two men paddle a National Trust canoe

Dave runs Singing Paddles, a licensed canoe operator on the Salcombe estuary, out on the water with tours in all seasons with his Canadian canoes. Look closely however and you may see a National Trust oak leaf on the bow of his canoe.

This is because Dave works in partnership with the National Trust. With a degree in botany and a lifelong interest in ecology, he talks knowledgeably about the sights and sounds of the Salcombe estuary and how we care for over 500 acres around its shores. We have worked closely with him to develop the Salcombe estuary canoe guide, where his local knowledge of the estuary has been invaluable.

Salcombe estuary

Discover the secrets of the Salcombe estuary with David Halsall from Singing Paddles. Book a taster or day trip and explore hidden coves, shipwrecks and a shore teeming with wildlife – all without ever having to leave your canoe.

Download the canoe map (PDF / 0.9814453125MB) download here and explore the estuary yourself.

Contact Dave on 0775 442 6633 or singingpaddles@hotmail.co.uk.

An interview with David Halsall from Singing Paddles

How did you start out?

Well I tried canoeing whilst at school in the seventies, but it wasn’t until the late eighties when, following a serious football injury, I became a born again paddler after looking for a way to maintain fitness, and it has subsequently spiralled from there.

Rumour has it that you used to compete a bit in marathon paddling?

Back in the day I formed a paddling partnership with Steve Murgatroyd, competing on the canoe marathon racing circuit. We went on to compete in many of the classic marathon races such as Hasler Final, Liffey Descent, Avon Stage and the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster canoe race - there were a few wins in there too. I also competed in canoe slalom and represented Great Britain in a series of International Dragon Boat races in Sweden.

And you do a bit of writing too?

For a while I worked with the British Canoe Union environmental pane,l and produced a regular monthly article on the environment for the independent magazine ‘Canoeist’. I’ve continued writing since and written a fair few articles now for the outdoor press about some of my canoe expeditions overseas, and some more technical aspects of canoeing.

So when did you move to South Devon, and what made you decide to set up Singing Paddles?

I moved south from the Yorkshire Dales and set up the company in 2008. In the Dales and Lake District I previously worked with groups canoeing, caving and mountaineering so it seemed natural to use some of my skills down here.

And today?

All is going well thanks; Singing Paddles has become embedded into the community, helping out at many local regattas, working with local groups such as the Beavers, special needs and local women's paddling groups. I also work with Slapton Ley Field Study Centre on the National Nature Reserve, Slapton Ley. The work with the National Trust has been a great privilege with the ethos of both parties being very similar.