Our Origins & Story

Canoe Trail was founded in 2005 by Richard and Ashley, a husband and wife team. The award-winning business is based at Kempston Outdoor Centre in Bedford. It offers a range of adventures and activities including canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard hire, paddlesport lessons, woodland camping, and paddlesport expeditions. Find out more below.

Adventures Around the World!

Company founder Richard Matheson Harpham FRGS is a human-powered adventurer who alongside Ashley has undertaken many worldwide adventures. You can watch the video to sample some of their exploits to Cananda

At Canoe Trail we have an adventurous and competitive DNA with team members completing big canoe and kayak races including the infamous Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race (125 miles and 77 portages of pain time), the Muskoka River X race (80miles of Canadian lakes, rivers and wilderness) and the Yukon River Quest – “The YRQ” (444 miles and the world’s longest annual canoe and kayak race).

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Meet the Instructors

People come to us for canoe and kayak coaching and tuition because we are friendly, break it down into simple steps, offer progression from basic paddling to expert level, and have some great kit. Our current instructors:

Ashley Kenlock

Ash is the CEO of Canoe Trail and has 20 years of paddling experience.

Ash runs Canoe Trail with her husband Richard. Ash is a qualified Level 2 coach UKCC and is also a qualified SUP coach. She is a natural paddler and learned to roll in 10 minutes in the pool. She has a Masters in human and equine biology and is a keen horse rider and instructor used to train the Queen’s horses.

Ash loves wild swimming and previously surfing. 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. Ash has also led expeditions in Canada in Ontario. She is a very experienced canoe leader training. Ash and Rich regularly write for Paddler and Bushcraft and Survival Magazine

Richard Harpham

Company founder, Richard is a Director, coach and British Canoeing tutor at Canoe Trail.

Rich is an experienced adventurer, kayak, SUP and canoe coach. Richard has completed human powered adventures all over the world. Richard has over 30 years experience of paddling and you can see more about his adventures by visiting www.richadventure.com

Richard regularly writes for magazines including Outdoor Adventure Guide, Paddler Magazine and BAMLife. Rich is an moderate water endorsed coach, advanced canoe leader, sea kayak leader, Guide and a tutor for British Canoeing offering PSI, touring leader, open water SUP leader, PSL and FSRT. Ash and Rich regularly write for Paddler and Bushcraft and Survival Magazine where Rich was the former editor

Calum Steel

Calum is a White Water Kayak Leader, Advanced Canoe Leader, Expedition Leader with 14 Years of Experience in the Outdoors.

Scottish born and bred! He has led many canoe and kayak expeditions across Scotland. He has paddled all over the world, BASI Level 3 Ski & Snowboard. Calum is a British Canoeing tutor offering FSRT and other qualifications. Calum is a moderate water endorsed coach

Chris Whitmore

Assistant Activity Manager and All Round Nice Guy

Chris is a highly experienced coach who studied at Shuttleworth College before returning as a tutor. Chris is a Level 2 coach, climbing wall instructor, archery instructor and has completed many expeditions and trips

Damien Barker

Damian has been studying outdoor adventure at Shuttleworth college and is now a team leader with Canoe Trail. Damien is completing his core coach and touring leader and has also completed his climbing wall instructor training and white water safety and rescue

Damian has been paddling as long as he can remember and most that has been spent upside down. He is also an experienced white-water paddler, having spent time in on Scottish lochs and on Canadian rivers. He has also led expeditions across the UK and abroad.

Alex Bonney

Alex Studied his Level 5 Higher Education in Sport at Shuttleworth and has spent the last few years paddling lots of white water in canoe and kayak. Alex is completing his core coach and touring leader qualifications and has completed his white water safety and rescue BC course

Alex has been paddling since he was 14 and rarely ever finished a session dry, avid white water paddler with some SUP sprinkled in. His preferred trips have been trips to Scotland, North Wales, and now sea kayaking.

Arafat Walugembe

Arafat has worked in the business for as long as we can remember!

Alongside completing his degree at university, he is a key member of the team and is a qualified Paddlesport Instructor. The SUP king! Arafat is completing his touring leader and core coach qualifications with many years coaching and paddling experience

Dano Di Credico

Dano is a level 5 outdoor instructor and has been with us since 2021 Dano is completing his touring leader and core coach British Canoeing Qualifications

Dano has 4 years experience of being an outdoor instructor and has led in the humid Rio Sucio River in Costa Rica and the not so humid Ross-on-Wye river in Wales and the River Derwent.

Sib Eames

Paddling for around 12 years recreationally, Sib has spent the last 7 years coaching and encouraging the next generation of paddlesports enthusiasts through the Sea Cadets.

The need for adventure bought Sib to Canoe Trail originally as a customer. Now a whole new adventure has begun! Sib is a SUP, Canoe and kayak coach, as well as our resident first aid trainer and assessor. Sib has run expeditions on the Great Ouse, Derwent and Stour. Sib is completing her canoe leader and climbing wall instructor qualifications and has completed her white water safey and rescue qual

"Bushcraft" Bob Collins

"Bushcraft"Bob Collins is a qualified paddlesport instructor with years of experience on the water. He is a master of carving, weaving and bushcraft skills creating masterpieces and sharing a passion for the outdoors and nature

Bob is also a fantastic archer, ice hockey player and skater. He creates intricate carvings and willow baskets and also sells his craftwork on his etsy site

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