British Canoeing leadership courses

From 2021, British Canoeing no longer require participation in a formal training course prior to a leader assessment. Course attendance is therefore optional.

 We will provide an excellent training experience that will develop your leadership skills, and give you the preparation needed to be successful at assessment.


Paddlesport leader

The Paddlesport Leader Award is open to all paddlers! The award supports your existing skills and enables you to lead fun, safe and enjoyable trips.

Furthermore, this award is used by clubs, outdoor centres and organisations to support their activity delivery on mixed craft. This includes single or tandem craft.

What can I do with the award?

Your award will support you to run safe and enjoyable trips, based on your group’s needs and aspirations. You will lead journeys, on sheltered water, for a range of mixed craft.

As a Leader, you can work independently or be deployed by a club, centre or organisation to lead trips and journeys. The purpose of these trips may be wide ranging from educational experiences, social adventures or trying something new.

    What are the prerequisites? 


    Be comfortable padding your chosen craft (Canoe, kayak, sit on top kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard)

    Have some experience of paddling in a sheltered water environment. 


    Full ‘On the water’ British Canoeing member

    16 years of age or older

    Appropiate first aid qualification

    Registered for the award

    How will I be assessed?

    We do everything we can to take the stress out of assessments, we are focused on the journey and not the destination. The experience will be safe, engaging and enjoyable, with you at the heart of the process, involving you in as much of the decision making as possible.

    By the end of the assessment, you will have to demonstrate knowledge and skills in four areas:

    Participant focused leadership skills

    Personal paddling skills

    Rescue skills

    Underpinning background knowledge, understanding and experience

    The assessment takes place over 1 or 2 days depending on the logistics relating to access to suitable environments

    Useful resources can be found here

    Course cost

    Training (2 days) – £200

    Assessment (2 days) – £200

    Assessment (1 day) – £150

    Course Dates

    Training – Contact for dates

    Assessment – Contact for dates

    Book online

    Paddlesport touring leader award

    If you’re looking to gain a qualification to lead mixed craft groups from your choice of craft, on journeys in both an open water environment (up to 500m from land and with winds up to force 4) and rivers (up to and including grade 1 with the occasional short rapid of grade 2 or a simple safe weir) then this is the course for you. Potentially we could also paddle on an estuary with tidal flow up to 0.5 knots.

    Take a good look at the assessment guidance, which can be found at

    The course guide and skills checklist are also well worth reading.

    If you’re not sure whether you’re in the right place for the assessment, or would like some input to develop your paddling, leading and rescues, we also offer the option of a 2 day Paddlesport Touring Leader Training too.


    On the assessment day you’ll meet the group, find out what they’ve done before, what they want out of the day, take look at the conditions and plan your journey.

    The group will consist of 4-6 paddlers in a range of craft. We’ll spend some of the day on open water with winds up to force 4 and some of the day on rivers up to grade 1(2). On the journey you’ll need to balance the ability of the group and the demands of the environment, supporting them when they find it hard, adding in challenge when it’s easy and dealing with any problems that occur.

    We’ll also look at scenarios, rescues and personal paddling skills. Remember some of the rescues will involve people in different types of craft to your own, so you’ll want to have practiced this.

    What are the prerequisites?  


    You need to be able to independently paddle on open water, rivers up to and including short stretches of Grade 2. 


    Register with home nation (you will need the below in place to do this)

    Full (on the water) home nation membership

    First Aid (dated within last 3 years and appropriate to this award)

    Safeguarding Training (dated within last 3years).

    Additional information can be found here  

    Course Cost

    Training (2 days) £200

    Assessment (1-2 days depending on numbers- Max 4) – £200

    Course Dates


    10-11 March (Derwentwater)

    12-13 May (Derwentwater)


    2 March (Derwentwater)

    20 April (Derwentwater)

    Book online

    sea kayak leader (Tidal)


    Your award will support you to lead safe and enjoyable short, single or multi-day journeys. You will lead sea kayakers with a range of experience on trips based on their needs and aspirations in a moderate tidal water environment with winds not exceeding Beaufort force 4.

    What are the prerequisites?


    Previous experience and requirements for attending a training course include the ability to paddle in f3/4 winds from any direction, surf 1-metre waves, paddle in a 1-metre swell, 2 knots of current. It would be useful but not essential to be able to self-rescue and roll on flat water, plus manage an assisted rescue in previously described conditions.


    • Registered for the award
    • Safeguarding Training (dated within last 3years).
    • First Aid (dated within last 3 years and appropriate to this award)
    • Full National Association Membership
    • Suitable costal navigation award eg British Canoeing Costal Navigation and Tidal Planning.

    Useful resources can be found here

    Course cost £200

    Course dates

    Sea kayak leader training


    Sea kayak leader assessment


    Book online