Canoe Trail is a family run watersports and adventurous activities business run by husband and wife team Richard and Ashley. We have spent our whole lives enjoying the water and great outdoors and Canoe Trail provides the opportunity to share our passion for watersports and adventure with our customers.
Canoe Trail primarily operates canoe, kayak and Stand Up paddle board rental on the River Great Ouse in Bedford, only one hour North of London, 30 minutes from Milton Keynes and 40 minutes from Cambridge. Richard and Ashley are passionate about canoeing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding, basically messing about on the water. We love the outdoors and adventure and want to share this with our customers. We aim to make all aspects of our business authentic, friendly and lots of fun.
Canoe Trail was founded by experienced adventurer and kayak / canoe coach Richard Harpham. Richard has completed human powered adventures all over the world including sea kayaking the channel, 1000 miles from Vancouver to Alaska, canoeing the Yukon River as well as many iconic trips and expeditions closer to home. He has also cycled the Sahara and completed London to Marrakech by bike and kayak and in total has now completed over 8,000 miles of human power. You can see more about his adventures by visiting www.richadventure.com Richard regularly writes for magazines including Outdoor Adventure Guide, Paddler and BAMLife.
Richard is also one of the coaches at Bedford’s Viking Kayak Club, Club of the Year 2012 and home to Olympic Champion Etienne Stott. Richard’s passion is to inspire young people and communities to set goals, get outdoors and to dream big. He is a co-founder of www.inspiredlife.org which provides inspirational programmes and experiential learning to young people and communities.
Ash is the other half of Canoe Trail’s management and is married to Richard. Ashley has a Masters in human and equine biology and is a keen horse rider and instructor, used to train the Queen’s horses and came late to paddling. Ash loves wild swimming and previously surfing. Her skills and knowledge of paddling has developed quickly and she is great at coaching beginners and new paddlers to the sport. Ashley has great balance from her horse riding and makes Stand Up Paddle Boarding look particularly easy. Ash is a natural paddler and learnt to roll in 1o minutes in the pool.
Since learning to paddle Ash has paddled some iconic Rivers and Lochs including Loch Ness, River Wye, Norfolk Broads and a number of Scottish Rivers. You will often find Rich and Ash accompanied by their 4 legged companions also known as The Pack which includes Rosie, our black lab and William and Dee Dee, our brother and sister Collie cross Springers. They are all rescue dogs and enjoy their new life on or around the water and our woodland.
Sharing Adventure and the Great Outdoors
We love sharing adventure and a sense of exploring and organise trips to other locations including:
- Sea kayaking in Scotland,
- Sea kayaking the Needles and the Jurassic Coast
- Canoeing on the River Wye
- Paddling on the River Severn
- The Great Glenn Canoe Trail
- Exploring London kayaking the River Thames
We have also organised major kayaking displays and waterside events at the Outdoor Show, London Boat Show and Bedford River Festival for television and for thousands of people.
Canoe Trail chooses local suppliers and family businesses wherever possible who like us care about good customer service and doing the right thing. We promote buying local and supply free range food in our hampers and for campfire food as a preference.
Supporting Good Causes and Charity Fundraising Events
We also try and help with charity events whenever we can and have helped a large number of charity events including
- Our Charity Canoe Race racing funds for local charities
- Andy North's Sunshine Challenge for the Soldiers Charity ABF to sea kayak the channel
- Gary Austin paddling the English Channel for an Epilepsy charity
- Graham Dandy's fundraising for Neve paddling the Thames
- The 40 something's paddle the Cam source to Sea for Help for Heroes
- Great Ormond Street Charity Paddle of the River Great Ouse
- Peter’s Charity Paddle of the River Great Ouse
We hope that you come and visit us and explore our local river, or trips further afield and perhaps enjoy a weekend canoeing and camping in our woodland campsite. It is the perfect antidote to the pressures of modern life.
See you on the water!