Articles - Club Scene We Check out Canoe Club Paddleplus

Stu getting ready to hit the water
Stu getting ready to hit the water
Canoe and Kayak UK - Posted on 16 Dec 2008
If you ask any paddler the question, ‘What do you enjoy most about paddling?’ Their answer, with out a doubt, will mention at some point the social side, the friends that you make and the sense of togetherness and teamwork in a group, no matter how big or small. One of the most popular communities within canoeing and kayaking is the club scene. At some point in time our as paddlers most of us will have been involved in a canoe club, whether as a volunteer, encouraging others on, or as a fresh faced novice willing to learn. Clubs and the people who are involved in them are the lifeblood of our sport. Up and down the country passionate, committed club coaches and volunteers give up their time, week in, week out, so people can try, progress and most importantly enjoy this addictive sport of ours. In celebration and in honour of the humble canoe club we thought it would be a fantastic idea to get out on the road and paddle with as many clubs as possible. So the boats went on the CK wagon roof rack, the kit was stuffed in to dry bags and we dispatched Editor Jay and intern Ross to kick of our club adventure with a trip to Paddleplus Canoe Club in Leicester…    
Paddleplus in action

Paddleplus based at the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre, where they meet every Thursday. The club caters for all ages and all abilities, from first dip of the paddle right up to competitive wild water racing at international level. The River Soar runs right through Leicester, and is literally on the club’s doorstep, offers plenty of variety for all interests of paddling. With many weirs and locks to paddle, the River Soar is a fantastic location and a great resource for the club.
         The evening started with the junior session at 6.30pm with a host of young paddlers getting the experience of paddling a whole range of boats from freestyle kayaks, to open boats, and even coracles! Giving the youngsters a great opportunity to have fun and enjoy just being out on the water is a fantastic thing and it was clear that they where all thoroughly enjoying themselves. For some paddlers it was their very first paddling experience, whilst for others it was their regular ‘can’t miss’ Thursday night activity.
    Andy Oughton the club chairman and keen coach, explained that on a summer’s evening they can have up to fifty paddlers on the water all having fun. The location of the centre means that youngsters can get an experience of outdoor adventure sports in the middle of the city. Paddleplus run trips throughout the year for everyone, from their weekend gallivants to North Wales, or trips up to Scotland for the keen whitewater paddlers in the club. Their most popular trip is their summer camp on the River Wye, it happens each year, with great success, and plenty of paddling and evening activities. This year the camp had 90 members all enjoying the variety of paddling the River Wye had to offer.  enjoying the water of the soar
     Back on the Soar it was time for us to kit up, ready to join the club for their adult session. Which we had timed out visit well as they were off for a longer paddle to Thurmaston, three-miles downstream, which coincidently ended at the Hope and Anchor Pub! The group, featuring a wide range of age groups, took to the water in a mixture of open boats and river kayaks to enjoy a very sociable paddle downstream. The River Soar meanders its way though the suburbs of Leicester. Above us traffic hurtled on the flyovers as an orange glow radiates from the hectic motorway, its many passengers oblivious to the quiet river Soar below. Our eyes soon adjusted to the darkness enough to appreciate what a great experience paddling at night is with only the city glow for a light source, the Paddleplus team chatted and discussed, and caught up with paddling friends, as the paddles dipped in to the river everyone unwound from their busy weeks. Paddling means different things for all of us. For some it is great to lose yourself in the raw energy of a monstrous river, whilst others enjoy the stillness and solitude of a lake. It is a great escapism from normality, something we look forward to each week whether you’re at school, at college, working or retired. Canoeing and kayaking are unique sports, which enable everybody to enjoy being out on the river. Without versatile and active clubs such as Paddleplus there would be far less people out paddling.
        Another popular trip that the club takes part in every year is the 100-mile canoe test that is organised by the Clubs for Young People Organisation, which began in 1925. The 100-miles is spread over four days, and involves 150 paddlers with a range of ages and abilities. The 2008 100-miler, as it is commonly known, took place on the River Seven over the May bank holiday weekend. Paddlers’ build up to the trip with mini trips put together over the year in order to prepare for the four days of non-stop paddling. Some of which include the Hot Potato paddle, the Full Moon paddle and the Cold Turkey paddle that always takes place on the 27th December.
     Three miles, and much chatter, later and we had arrived at the ‘Hope and Anchor’ a pub that has been used by the club as a lunch spot and social venue on many occasions. The club’s minibus and trailer arrived right on time, and some paddlers loaded up the trailer whilst others took to the bar and waited for the second shuttle. The talk turned to paddling once more, recent trips and plans for the winter. It would seem that club paddlers just can’t get enough of paddling, even having just spent the evening on the water, in the presence of other enthusiasts you can’t help but be fired-up about paddling. Andy teaching down at Paddleplus
    Both of us where reminded why we got involved with paddle-sport in the first instance, like so many others, we had both been hooked after a first taster session at a canoe club. Without the foundation of clubs, such as Paddleplus and the hard work from passionate paddlers, coaches and volunteers people wouldn’t be able to feed their addiction. Through becoming involved with a club everyone can have the opportunity to have a go, with equipment provided by many clubs, and qualified coaching, all for a very nominal fee. As we changed backing to dry clothes we discussed our very enjoyable evening and the fact that canoe clubs are the very foundations of our sport.
I started at my local club and got a taste for it like so many others. Through paddling I have had some of my best experiences, either through the people that share it with you or the amazing places that paddling can take you. I can’t talk for everyone but paddling has certainly influenced my life, and a lot of decisions I have had to make are based around paddling. Without that first experience at a club who knows, I might have taken up knitting. So if you asked me, ‘What do you enjoy most about paddling?’ I would have to say ‘Clubs’. Giving people the chance to get out on the water!

Info Box
Paddleplus’ next trip is the Avon descent, to find out more visit their website at
Chairman Andy Oughton can be contacted on 0116 2771808
Paddlplus meet every Thursday at the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre ( and have a junior session from 6.30pm to 8.30pm and an adult session from 7.30pm

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