Beginners

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 2021

Covid restrictions allowing, we will be offering courses for junior and adult beginners, run by our qualified and experienced volunteer coaches, from late April and more in June.

Adult courses usually run on a Wednesday evening at 6.30pm or a Saturday morning at 11.30.
Junior courses will also be either a Wednesday afternoon, 4-5pm, or a Saturday morning, 11-12pm.

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

Adult courses will consist of 4 x 1.5 hour sessions and cost £60.

Junior course (10-16 years old) will consist of 5 x 1 hour sessions and cost £35.

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

Taster Sessions:

We will also be running single Taster Sessions for children, 9-16 year olds, during half term – Monday May 31st, Tuesday June 1st and Wednesday June 2nd. These are 75 minutes long and are free. They will give children a chance to experience the fun of kayaking and from these, they can progress to full beginner sessions. To book these, please fill in the form here reading-canoe.org.uk/taster

There will be further Taster Sessions during the Reading Children’s Festival in early August. We will put more details up in June.

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.

TIPS FOR NEW PADDLERS
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.