Canoe Loch Etive

Paddle and Water Sports

Paddlesport is the the common term used to describe kayaking, canoeing and other activities on water that involve using a paddle to maneuver a craft on water. The British Canoe Union (BCU) is the governing body for paddlesport in the UK.

I’m a BCU Level One coach and have enjoyed introducing many others to the sport.

My Kayaking

White water early days – check out the facial expression!

My first forays in a kayak were when I was at school as an extra circular activity. After a long hiatus I took up the sport again in 2013 while working at Plas y Brenin.  This was an intense apprenticeship where I’ve paddled many rivers in North Wales including grade 4 rapids. While a few of these turned into near mis-adventures, it has given me a great appreciation for the sport and enjoyment when ‘styling a line’ or successfully recovering a near swim.

This relatively recent process does make me an ideal person to help others take their first strokes on a river. I can remember vividly that first time running over a drop or getting stuck in a stopper. How hard it seamed to time my stroke to perfection and make the next eddy. I also understand how the correct flat water introduction helped me deal with this and made me a strong paddler in a short space of time.

I hold my three star personal proficiency in White Water as well as a White Water Safety and Rescue certificate.

My Canoeing

Canoeing has rapidly become close to my heart. I’ve always enjoyed journeys through wild country, from the days of walking in search of birds with my parents. This lead to my many mountain exploits and more recently to exploits on the lochs and rivers of the UK.

I’ve enjoyed the journey down the river Dee, battling the tide on Loch Etive, and flowing with it on Loch Moidart. Multi-day trips with all the kit associated become a joy when you can float over the water rather then hike with a heavy pack.

canoeing loch awe
Canoeing on Loch Awe

The greatest thing I’ve learnt about the canoe is it’s versatility. It will take you places and with equipment that by other means would be a challenge or impossible, all the while with a certain lean toward finesse over bruit strength. If you think that canoes are just for native peoples of the world or bearded old men then think again.

Coasteering and Gorge Scrambling

gorge scramble
Rock slide into a pool on the Prysor Gorge.

Coasteering is the process of travelling around a coastline either in or just above the water. It encompasses elements of climbing, white water swimming, surfing and many more. Currently there is no nationally recognised award or governing body for coasteering however many people would look for a White Water Safety and Rescue Training (WSRT) certificate as well as a climbing award such as the Mountain Instructors Award (MIA). I hold both of these.

Gorge scrambling is similar to scrambling on a mountain but with the added element of a river being involved. At its heart it can be treated in a similar manner to coasteering as the jumps into pools, climbs over rocks, use of a rope (if at all) are all common to both. Like coasteering there’s no governing body and the WSRT and MIA are considered good qualifications to understand the risks involved.

If you haven’t tried either of these activities, I thoroughly recommend it. They can turn a damp drizzle filled day into an adventurous, exciting, memorable one. Equally on a hot sunny day there’s nothing better then messing around in a river or on the sea.

Where it all began – Sailing

My love of watersports began with Sailing. At the tender age of 12 I took the mainsheet and rudder of my first dingy in hand off the south coast of Devon near where I grew up. My dad had always wanted to sail. He got himself a Laser sailing dingy and joined the local yacht club. Soon after he also got my brother, sister and me a Topper sailing dingy. They didn’t take to it like I did (or perhaps didn’t get a look in) my dad and I would head off to a lake, estuary or sea several weekends a month until I turned 18 left to go to university.

I still fondly remember those weekends. The cold spray in my face, the power in the sail trying to tip me over and leaning against it almost dipping my head in the water to keep the boat level. I learned quickly and achieved my Junior RYA Level Three certificate. Unfortunately the Topper has now been sold on and I find little time among my other activities to get back in a sail boat but when chance allows I still enjoy that feeling of the wind in a sail while travelling close to the wind.

Coaching & Employment

I currently hold a BCU UKCC Level Two Paddlesport Coaching certificate. This shows that I’m competent to coach paddlesport session on calm waters. What this means for you is that, should you wish to try canoeing, or kayaking on calm water I’m the guy for you (provided there’s no significant weather). I also hold the Canoe Four Star Leaders Award. This allows me to lead groups of competent canoeist on journeys, for example you’ve paddled a canoe before but would like to complete a Spey descent.

If you’d like to try any of the other watersports listed I’m more then happy to help and discuss your requirements.

Either way get in touch with me through my contact page.