Where To Start

Reading Canoe Club is a volunteer organisation run by its membership and managed by its committee. Its focus is to provide kayaking and canoeing to Reading and its nearby community. There is no commercial remit – we are simply looking to develop paddlers and a love for the sport. We appeal to people for whom canoeing is a fun activity all year round.

Take a look at our introduction leaflet for more details about who we are and what we do.

Our beginner courses run from spring to autumn. If you decide to join the club, activities run throughout the year.

Introductory Courses 2023

We offer courses for junior and adult beginners, run by our qualified and experienced volunteer coaches, from late April 2023 until late July. Dates are announced in late March each year. They do get booked up quickly, so if you would like to be put on the waiting list, please fill in the form (link at the top of the page). The 2023 courses are now full.

Adult courses usually run on a Wednesday evening at 6.30pm or a Saturday morning at 11.30, over four weeks, each one a 90-minute session. Junior courses will also be either a Wednesday afternoon, 4-5pm, or a Saturday morning, 11-12pm, these are over 5 weeks and are each a 60-minute session.

If you would like your name to go on the list, please complete the form, indicating whether you are requesting a place for a junior or adult and if you have had any previous experience. 

Adult courses will consist of 4 x 90-minute sessions and cost £90.

Junior course (10-16 years old) will consist of 5 x 60-minute sessions and cost £60.

Once your name is on the list, we will send you more information as space on a course becomes available.

Taster Sessions:

We also run single Taster Sessions for children, 9-16 year olds, during May half term as part of the Children’s Festival. These are 75 minutes long. They give children a chance to experience the fun of kayaking and from these, they can progress to full beginner courses. Places can be booked from spring 2024.

Further Info

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I bring and wear?
While canoeing, it is important that clothing protects the body but does not restrict movement. Clothing that gets heavy when wet, like jeans and woollens, are unsuitable. Wetsuits are unsuitable for most of our activities. For the majority of conditions, layers of light, fitted clothing that will dry quickly when damp are most suitable. Thermals are ideal. Beginners should bring:

  • Shorts or leggings.
  • T-shirts and thin long-sleeve tops.
  • Cagoule or other short light windy-proof top.
  • A change of clothes and a towel.

Do I need to be able to swim?
It would be an advantage to be able to swim 50 metres but this does not necessarily prohibit those that cannot – however please inform the instructor if you are a weak or nervous swimmer. Being confident in and around water is more important. You will be expected to wear a buoyancy aid for most activities, and we do ask that you be capable of swimming 50 metres in canoeing clothing with the aid of a buoyancy aid.

Do I need any specific equipment?
We have everything to get you started: boat, paddles and buoyancy aid.

I haven’t paddled for ten years?
Drop us an email and give us an idea of what you were doing & in what type of boat, and we will assess whether you need to do an intro course or whether you can join the club straight away.

Do I need to be fit?
Not especially, however it is a great way to get fit if you want!

When do next year’s sessions start up?
The information will be posted on this page as soon as we can confirm what we will be offering for beginners next season.

DO wear the appropriate clothing, and a change of clothes. Ask where this may be purchased.
DO wear a Buoyancy Aid.
DO listen to the Coaches.
DO be aware that the coaches are all volunteers
DO learn how to stop and how to make an approach to the bank without causing damage to your kayak.
DO when on the water stay in a group with your fellow paddlers and coaches.
DO be aware of other river users, especially rowing boats, they can move quickly.
DO help to put all equipment away after use and shut boatshed bay doors.
DO join us for coffee after paddling to discuss anything about the morning’s activities. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience about canoe-sport amongst the members.
DO NOT place kayaks on the concrete areas if avoidable.
DO NOT sit in your kayak on the land.

If you capsize:
DO stay with your kayak, holding it lightly by one end.
DO try and retain your paddles.
DO move towards the nearest bank. Help will arrive and show you how to safely empty the kayak.
DO NOT attempt to climb on top of the kayak.
DO NOT get too cold; go back to the club and change. Bring extra kit.