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Paddlesport Leader Training and Assessment



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"Course very well delivered and coached, good atmosphere throughout and good knowledge. Received lots of information with ample opportunity for communication. Very good equipment and variety. A high level of information delivered to a high standard. Very good instruction with good clear reviews on all aspects. Highly recommended."

"Excellent, a lot of information and a chance to try a lot of different boats and paddles. Very high quality equipment and a good range of different gear."

"I’ve had a good time and learnt some skills in addition to those learnt from training. Plenty of info, notice for everything. I learnt how to safely take people on a jorney, which is what it’s all about, so yes! Been given all the help to get me through the course, action plans etc. Well explained in a relaxed environment. Everything great."


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British Canoeing Awarding Body

Paddlesport Leader Award

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Paddlesport leaders will take paddlers on great journeys creating amazing experiences and inspiring participants to enjoy paddling in a range of environments. They should allow paddlers the freedom to journey at their own pace whilst supporting individuals to paddle in environments that are safe but challenging.

A paddlesport leader is seen to be an independent leader who can work outside an organisation.

Paddlesport Leader Cumbria

How can Wild River help prepare you for the assessment?

Wild River runs training courses over 2 days.

Training courses are appropriate for:

  • Instructors who are starting to run paddlesport sessions.
  • Instructors who have not completed a paddlesport safety and rescue course.
  • Educators who are planning to work with their pupils in paddlesport.

You may well also decide to:

  • Attend a paddlesport and safety rescue course.
  • Attend a performance award such as the canoe award or the sheltered water sup award.
  • Receive some individualised bespoke training.

On our training courses we look at:

  • Pre-trip information gathering.
  • Trip planning and predicting weather and conditions.
  • Safety briefs for mixed fleets in open water and slow moving rivers.
  • Group control for mixed fleets in a variety of environments.
  • Simple sailing set ups.
  • Games for journeys.
  • Wind and current awareness.
  • Leading groups in safe but inspirational ways.
  • Towing option.
  • Rescues of different craft.
  • Incident management.
  • Benchmarking of personal paddling skill.

The key part of any training course is the individual debrief to assist with your development of your detailed action plan.

How does assessment work?


On an assessment candidates will be expected to be able to:

  • Paddle their chosen craft at a good standard in the top end of the remit.

  • Rescue all craft from their own craft in a variety of environments whilst maintaining good group control.

  • Plan and lead an inspirational journey in a way that encourages independence and development of the participants.

  • Lead students on sheltered water and a slow moving river at the top end of the remit comfortably.

Prior to an assessment you will be given the opportunity to contact the group members to gather information about their ability, equipment needs and aspirations for the day. You will be encouraged to plan the day in detail with logistical support from Wild River if necessary. The group will have at least 4 participants and be in a variety of craft.

The certificate does not list the craft which the leader was assessed in. It would be best practice for leaders using different craft on future trips to evidence their personal skill with a performance award such as the Canoe Performance Award.

Wild River runs single day assessments with dates on the website. Alternatively 1-1 assessments can be set up on dates that suit the individual.

Pre-requisites for assessment:

  • Prior to assessment all candidates must register with their home nation association (Paddle England, Paddle Scotland, Canoe Wales, Paddle Northern Ireland).

  • Full home nation association membership.

  • Valid (within 3 years) 1 day First Aid Award recognised by Paddle UK.

  • Valid (within 3 years) Safeguarding training recognised by Paddle UK.

Where does a Paddlesport Leader operate?


Paddlesport leaders are qualified to take participants on simple sheltered water trips. These trips could be on flatwater not more than 200metres from the bank and in wind less than force 3 (less than 12mph).

They also include very slow moving rivers where participants could paddle against the flow.  These trips might include one or two weirs or locks that can easily be walked around or shallow rapids that can easily be managed.

Sheltered coastal bays with very limited risk of blowing out to sea or tidal estuaries with very low current (0.5 knots) are within the remit.

Lake District venues include:

  • South end of Ullswater when the wind is below 10mph with a journey up Goldrill beck to the first bridge.

  • North end of Windermere including the lower part of the river Brathay and Rothay.

  • South end of in appropriate wind including the river down to Newby Bridge.

Other examples:

  • Norfolk broads including flatwater rivers that link them.

  • Non tidal journeys on the Thames where the flow is low.

  • Llangollen canal journey from Horseshoe falls to Whitchurch.

  • Most of the lower Wye excluding the moving water section from Kerne Bridge to Symonds Yat.

  • River Medway from Tonbridge to Maidstone.

Who can I work with?

Paddlesport leaders can lead paddlers who need support in the environment in any craft.  They can work with groups in a mixture of craft or in the same craft.

They have the experience to decide on the number of paddlers they lead but 8 solo craft or 6 tandem craft would be seen as large groups.


SUP Cumbria

British Canoeing have developed an online eLearning resource to support leaders learning and can be accessed using the following link: e-learning

Training Dates

2 Day Training
8,9 June 2024
1,2 July 2024
9,10 September 2024
Cost £200

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Assessment Dates

1 Day Assessments
10 July 2024
11 July 2024
16 July 2024
17 July 2024
Cost: £270 per person (requires 2 candidates to run).
1 to 1 assessments £350 - contact us to arrange this.

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Training Prerequisites

There are no formal pre-requisites for leader training but candidates should have a level of personal skill relevant to the sheltered water environment.


For assessment all candidates must register with Paddle UK.

At registration evidence of the following is required:

Full home nation association membership (Paddle England, Paddle Scotland, Canoe Wales, Paddle Northern Ireland).

1 Day First Aid (within 3 years) recognised by Paddle UK.

Safeguarding Training (within 3 years) recognised by Paddle UK.

British Canoeing Level 1 Course GuideRegistration Costs


Google Forms Action Plan

How to Register Video

British Canoeing Paddlesport Leader GuidancePaddlesport Leader Course Documents

British Canoeing Paddlesport Leader Skills ChecklistPaddlesport Leader Skills Checklist

Safeguarding Training

Paddlesport Leader e-learning

British Canoeing Environmental DefinitionsEnvironmental Definitions

Paddlesport Leader Assessment




Paddlesport courses in the Lake District