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British Canoeing - Canoe White Water Leader

Canoe White Water Leader.jpg

Course Dates & Booking

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Book Now

To book a place on this course, click on a date above to book and pay for the course, then complete and submit the Booking Form. If the following dates are not suitable, or you want to make a private booking for your club or centre, please get in touch.

Course Overview

Our British Canoeing Canoe White Water Leader course will give you the ability to lead exciting, safe and enjoyable journeys on grade 2(3) rivers. From leading multi day trips to days out on the local classics, our White Water Canoe Leadership courses are based on first hand experience of what works, and teach you simple strategies that you can always rely on. 

As with all new British Canoeing leadership assessments, you can choose to access the assessment directly without the need for formal training, however we also offer a variety of training options.


We run a two-day official British Canoeing training course which covers everything you need to know for assessment or can tailor bespoke training days to suit you and your experience.


Our approach to leadership training is based on years of experience guiding and leading across different disciplines and in many locations across the world. It is not a blow-by-blow approach of ‘do this on this rapid’ to pass an assessment, but a logical approach to leading on white water that can be transferred to any river you lead or paddle on, whether it's your well-known local run or a new river to explore. This will allow you to confidently lead paddlers in a safe, fun way on great sections of rivers whether on an assessment, for work or for play. 


What We Will Cover

We'll develop your river reading to help you break down the detail of the water movement through the rapids which will enable you to predict where the flow will take your students, then decide what tactics or options to give them based on their ability, and where best to position yourself. We will take into account the canoe specific details, from managing the increased pin risk, dealing with and avoiding swamping, and taking advantage of the enhanced view of the rapids that canoes can provide.


We’ll help you break down the features, benchmark them against the abilities of the individual paddlers in your group and coach you to use this information to lead safely and effectively. We will focus on helping you to develop your own techniques for breaking down the rapids and we can help you decide what options you'll give your group on the rapids and coach you to develop your own options for making slick efficient progress down the river with your group. We’ll also recap rescue techniques and ensure you leave the course with a clear picture of your path ahead.

Whilst our focus will be preventing the need for rescues, we’ll look at both simple, quick solutions that work in the dynamic river environment, and how to go about more complicated rescues.


Our aim is to create relaxed, supportive, and friendly assessments that reflect a real day guiding clients. For your one-day assessment you will plan and lead a day out on grade 2(3) white water that fits the ability of the group you'll be leading for the day.


Just lead them in a safe, appropriate and fun way, on a river that suits the group and in a way that fits the individuals you are leading, and that will cover 90% of the tasks. Inevitably there will be a few bits we haven't seen, (i.e trapped paddler or boat), so we’ll ask you to demonstrate those abilities in a clearly defined task.


Training Prerequisites

We ask that you are happy paddling in the grade 2 environment so that you can focus on developing your skills to look after others.


Assessment Prerequisites​

  • Full, on the water National Association membership. Click here if you live in England, here if you live in Wales and here if you live in Scotland.

  • Register for the course through your membership portal. Click here for registration guidance. 

  • Valid (within 3 years) 2-day First Aid Award recognised by British Canoeing Awarding Body 

  • Valid (within 3 years) Safeguarding Training recognised by British Canoeing Awarding Body

  • Safety Award – White Water Safety and Rescue Training

  • Minimum age: 16. If you are aged under 18, you will need to be joined by a parent or legal guardian who has also paid to do the course.

Course Documents

Further information available from British Canoeing here.

Kit List

Full personal kit, including:

  • Canoe suitably out-fitted for white water, with buoyancy fitted (your performance will be significantly helped by having a kneeling thwart fitted in the right position).

  • Well-fitting white water helmet

  • Paddle

  • Buoyancy aid

  • Dry suit or cag and waterproof trousers

  • Thermals

  • River shoes or old trainers (not wetsuit boots)

Please don't buy new items for the course, it is a great opportunity to try different options and make an informed purchase after. If you need any kit advice or to borrow anything, please get in touch before the course. Canoes and dry suits are available for hire


The training course and assessment will take place on the rivers of the Lake District and adjoining Yorkshire Dales National Park. To make best use of the conditions we’ll choose the rivers based on the water levels and forecast immediately prior to the course. We'll confirm the meeting point for the first day at least 3 days prior to the course. If you are booking accommodation, Kendal is the ideal spot to base yourself as it provides the best access to the surrounding rivers.

What Happens Next?

Once you have completed your training, you’ll leave with a clear action plan for your progression towards assessment. To develop your paddling further, you may be interested in a bespoke coaching session or our White Water Safety & Rescue, Lakes Canoe White Water Progression or Canoe Open Water Leader courses. When you are ready for assessment please book on the dates available below.

Book Now

To book a place on this course, click above to book and pay for the course, then complete and submit the Booking Form. If the following dates are not suitable, or you want to make a private booking for your club or centre, please get in touch.

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