Articles - A Go Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to Finding and Joining a Canoe Club



Canoe and Kayak team - Posted on 12 Jan 2009

Every year more and more people sample the delights of going canoeing & kayaking through come-and-try-it days, taster courses and adventure holidays, but once you’ve been bitten by the bug, where do you go from there? The answer’s a simple one, find the nearest canoe club to your area, go along, join up and you’ll never look back…

It’s fair to say that canoe clubs are at the very heart of canoeing and kayaking. Ask any top paddler, no matter what discipline, how they got started and we’ll bet you a pound to a penny that a canoe club featured in there somewhere. Clubs throughout the UK offer a safe, friendly, fun way to get involved, learn the skills and make a whole bunch of boating mates into the bargain.

What’s it all About?

Much like paddlers themselves, canoe clubs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and types. Most clubs, however, will offer you a whole heap of invaluable opportunities to help you in your paddling, qualified British Canoe Union (BCU) Coaches, boat storage, pool sessions, club equipment organised river trips are just a few of the things that most canoe clubs can provide. Not to mention the social side of things. Just imagine a whole club load of like-minded people all as obsessed with all things canoeing and kayaking as you are?

How does it Work?

The majority of clubs are affiliated to the BCU and will ask you for an annual membership fee to cover subs and the matainence of clubhouses etc. There will usually be a set club night when you can all get together and get on the water, or maybe even just meet up to talk paddling over a pint. Pool sessions are also common and are usually run in a local swimming baths. These can be invaluable as a novice, as they provide a safe, and warm, environment to work on more advanced moves, such as support strokes and Eskimo rolling.
    Clubs will usually have a committee, which will be voted on by the membership of the club at an annual general meeting. The committee will then deal with the day-to-day running of the club, such as membership fees, organising pool sessions/river trips, training and coaching courses, working with the BCU etc. If the club is a large one the committee may well have members that deal with specific areas such as youth programmes or coaching etc.
    As well as somewhere to meet and fellow paddlers to boat with many canoe clubs will have club equipment that can be borrowed or hired. This is fantastic if you’re just starting out as it means that you can continue to learn and progress while you slowly build up your own personal gear, without having to go out and bust the bank in one go at your local canoe shop.

Be a Paddling Star Canoe clubs are great for youn paddlers

As we’ve already mentioned most clubs will have members who have attained BCU Qualifications and are more than willing to pass on their knowledge to new members. Most clubs will also run training programmes on the BCU star awards. Clubs will often organise specific courses and assessments, so members can learn and progress through the star awards right up to coaching qualifications and many will subsidise these course for members.

Day Trippin’

Club trips are a brilliant way to get out and experience the rivers, lakes and coastline. Everyone here at CKUK enjoyed our first taste of ‘real’ paddling on a club trip. Be it a run down the Lower Dart, a surf trip to South Wales or maybe an open canoe trip in the Lake District club trips are a whole bunch of fun and you’ll really appreciate the help, advice and knowledge of your fellow club members as you enjoy your time on the water.  

Specialist Clubs

Some clubs specialise in a specific discipline. These tend to be based around competitive paddling such as marathon, sprint, slalom or canoe polo but specialist sea kayaking, open boating and canoe sailing clubs also exist. These can provide specialised coaching and a real focus on the discipline of choice. If you’re completely new to the sport you may find this sort of club a little restrictive, so why not join a general club first and try your hand at all types of paddling? Then if you find that you’re drawn to a specific type of paddling you can see if there’s a specialist club in your area. 

Social Whirl

As we’ve already hinted there’s so much more to being a member of a canoe club than just going paddling. By and large paddlers are a sociable bunch and they’ll be plenty of activity of the water. Christmas dinners, summer BBQs, video nights, some clubs even organise lectures and slideshows by well-known kayakers or coaches. You’ll also find that on top of official club trips many club members will get together and organise their own paddling trips, so you could find yourself off on a paddling adventure every weekend!

Keep it in The Family

Because of their social side and because most clubs will cater for all abilities they are ideal for getting the whole family involved. Pool sessions can be particularly good for some great fun with the kids, or for introducing a loved one who may be a little hesitant at jumping straight onto the sea or river. Most clubs offer a specific family membership for this very reason.

Finding a Club

Search our directory of local paddling clubs by clicking here. The BCU is also a good first point of call and they should be able to point you in the direction of your nearest club. Check out their website (www.bcu.org.uk) where you can download a list of clubs or call them on 0115 9821100. They also carry a list of every BCU affiliated club in their annual yearbook, which is free to members. Many canoe clubs now have their own dedicated websites and a quick search could well reveal your local clubs site. Alternatively try a search on Google, or similar. Just type in ‘canoe clubs UK’ and you’ll get loads, and loads results.

So that’s it, what are you waiting for? Get searching, get yourself along, get paddling and get in the Club!

Why not post an article or report about your canoe club in the blogs section. If your club has an event coming up let us know and we'll do our best to let everyone know, or drop a post into the forum

* Search our directory of local paddling clubs by clicking here.


Canoe and Kayak spend the evening with Canoe Club Paddleplus; read on, read on.

Back to Training



Want to comment on what you've seen?

You must be logged in to leave a comment. You can log in here.
If you don't have a user account please register.

Recently Added Features

Canoeing & Kayaking Trips in the Lake District

23 Apr 2012

The Lake District is surely most famous for the spectacular walking it offers in its hill and fells, although it is becoming an increasingly popular destination for canoeists and touring kayakers alik

How to Repair Inflatable Kayaks & Inflatable Canoes

28 Mar 2012

A Canoe & Kayak UK Quick-Guide to Repairing Your Inflatable Kayak or Inflatable Canoe

How to Care For Your Inflatable Kayak or Inflatable Canoes

28 Mar 2012

A Canoe & Kayak UK Quick-Guide to Caring For Your Inflatable Kayaks & Inflatable Canoes...

All You Need to Know About Joining Your Local Canoe Club

25 Mar 2012

Every year more and more people sample the delights of canoe & kayaking through come-and-try-it days, taster courses and adventure holidays, but once you’ve been bitten by the bug, where do you go fro

10 Reasons to GO on a Canoeing or Kayaking Course

13 Mar 2012

One of the great things about canoeing & kayaking is that there’s just so much to learn and experience they can never get boring. To help you get more out of your time on the water. is to GO on a cano

GO Whitewater Kayaking - 6 Great UK Whitewater Kayaking Trips

08 Mar 2012

Want to Go Whitewater Kayaking? Here's a Canoe & Kayak UK Guide to Six fantastic UK Whitewater Kayaking Destinations...

Others in this Category

How to Get Articles Published in Canoe & Kayak UK

31 Jan 2012

A Canoe & Kayak UK guide on how to write better articles about your paddling adventures and how to get your stories published.

Surf Kayak Skills - Paddling Out and Taking Off

26 Oct 2010

Champion surf kayaker Chris Harvey explains the essential surf kayaking skills to get you out beyond the break and then drop in sweetly to a perfect surf wave.

How to Eskimo Roll A Kayak

26 Jul 2010

Learning to successfully right your kayak from an upside down position while still in it, or, as it is commonly known, to roll your kayak is a big step on the learning curve for many paddlers. We show

Get on a Canoe or Kayak Course!

18 Mar 2009

10 reasons to go on a canoeing or kayaking course

Surf Kayak Technique - The Making of a Waterman

17 Mar 2009

'A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned,' he said, 'for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. But we do be afraid of the sea, and we do only be drowned now and again' J M

Making your ultimate paddling video

17 Mar 2008

Tom Laws takes you through the essentials to enable you to make the ultimate canoe or kayaking video.