Balfour Beatty Warrior Challenge Raises Over £52,000 for the ABF Soldiers Charity with a little help from Canoe Trail
Balfour Beatty Warrior Challenge
Balfour Beatty Warrior Challenge

The Balfour Beatty Warrior Challenge took place during June 2017 and involved cycling over 400 miles around the resting places for soldiers lost in the Afghan conflict and a 128 mile kayak from Devizes in Wiltshire to Tower Bridge, London. It was the brainchild of ABF ambassador Corporal Andy Reid, triple amputee and former soldier of the year and serving soldier Sergeant Major Glenn Hughes.

Andy and Glenn’s comrades were fatally injured when their warrior vehicle hit an IED in Afghan. The team supported by Balfour Beatty visited each of the graves of the soldiers paying their respects as well as connecting with towns and cities around Armed Forces Day to help raise funds for the ABF (Army Benevolent Fund) Soldiers Charity. The challenge included Andy North, long term fundraiser for the ABF who ran over 12 marathons in 12 days. For Glenn it was a different challenge as he has been coping with a hidden injury PTSD.

Canoe Trail joined the team at Devizes with Rob Campbell and Rich Harpham supporting Andy, Andy and Glenn. It was an incredible team effort with the Royal Marines providing two valley Aleut 2’s for the paddlers. The route followed the infamous DW route which includes 75 portages and 125 miles of paddling. Rob and Rich are no strangers to the race with Rob having completed it 10 times winning the C1 class on 3 occasions. Rich has raced twice over the last two years, once in the K2 (kayak) class and once in the C2 (canoe) class.

 The journey from Devizes started well with the first 13 miles without any portages. The first locks meant a tough challenge for Andy as he needed to attach his legs to go around the lock. After the portage he then detached his legs and we carried on paddling. This challenge is tough for anyone and historically on the race Olympians, adventurers and other racers have failed to complete the course. We carried on reaching portage after portage with a steady and tough routine. The kayaks were fast but made from a heavy glass construction were incredibly heavy.

Andy demonstrated his steely resolve with no complaints as he dealt with portage after portage and paddling in between. Andy’s prosthetic arm presented its own problems with sweat collecting on his arm from the silicon cup and also the difficulty of the constant friction rubbing on the stump. Glenn and Andy North also powered on as we made our way along the Kennet Avon Canal. This initial stretch of the canal is stunning with the mounds and rolling hills of the Ridgeway trail. It also means the infamous tunnel and the 1.5 mile Croton Locks which was our toughest portage. Shortly after that was perhaps the funniest moment of the challenge.

Andy Reid was using his hand bike to complete the portages on the longer sections which in theory was a great plan. Many of the banks were very high at 2ft and 3ft which made getting in and out the boat tiring and tricky. Once out on the longer stretches Andy found the hand bike much faster. Off he went a man on mission. We noted the very uneven bank and the local fishermen assisted with keeping the three wheels on terra firmer. At the next section an oak tree roots provided another obstacle so Glenn hopped out of the kayak to assist again. You can guess where this story is heading. On the third obstacle Andy confidently informed us he was fine to traverse the bank and accelerated like a racing driver heading for the gap. In slow motion we watched the right hand wheel lift off the ground and then slowly him get catapulted into the canal. All we could hear from the reeds from Mr Reid was roars of laughter. We managed to retrieve the chair from the canal and Glenn headed back to the bank to get his paddle. The hand bike then took off with a mind of its own (and a little electric short from its immersion) and accelerated along the bank and back into the canal. Our laughter was now near hysteria.

The days rolled into each other with more portages, feed stops and support from the Balfour Beatty Support vehicles and the team from ABF including Colonel Phil Naylor MBE Rtd , Jim Duffy and Charlotte Bell, the team rehab specialist. In addition were Terry ‘ the tea’ and Sean from Balfour who provided food stops and shuttles for the team. There are so many iconic places on the route with Reading town centre, Windsor (and its castle), Henley(which was preparing for the Regatta and meant we saw the Royal Barge passing. This was a real treat and highlight of the day. 

Onwards to Central London and the London Sights by kayak. The team passed the Boat Race course at Putney before passing so many landmarks including Battersea Power Station, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, HMS Belfast and then Tower Bridge. Our emotions were running high docking at HMS President and being hosted by friends at the Royal Navy. The team of Glenn Hughes, Andy Reid and Andy North had completed a mammoth challenge cycling and kayaking over 500 miles. For Andy Reid it demonstrated his strong character, fantastic humour and selfless attitude. The team raised over £52,000 for the ABF Soldiers Charity with corporate donations…

Canoe Trail Expand Our RED SUP Demo Centre
RED Paddle Co SUP Demo Centre
RED Paddle Co SUP Demo Centre

Canoe Trail Expand Our Red Paddle Co. Red SUP Demo Centre

Canoe Trail have been providing SUP Safari’s and Stand Up Paddle Boarding for the last 5-6 years with a range of high quality SUP boards on offer. Since 2014 we have had Red Paddle Co SUP’s on the water in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire with our Giant Red XL boards and also the ever popular Ride 10’8’s.

The 2016 and 2017 season has seen us expand our fleet with a wide range of RED SUP’s. We are now a listed demo centre for Red Paddle Co (as well as Silver Birch Canoes) and have a large demo fleet as well as plenty of boards, paddles and accessories in stock. Our RED demo fleet includes:

Red Explorer SUP

A great for longer distance touring, fast, high volume and space for kit

Sport SUP 12'6

These are popular within the fleet with a great mix of stability and speed

Race Board

A racing machine with great line speed. It is a little more twitchy but great fun to paddle

Ride 9’8

A good board for lighter paddlers and ladies. Ash loves this board and rarely shares!

Ride 10’6

Reported to be the world’s fastest selling SUP – good mix of stability and speed. Perfect for learning tricks and more advanced manoevres

Ride 10’8

A fantastic board for the heavier paddler, beginner to intermediate and also for those wanting to paddle with their kids or pooch on the nose of the board. Very stable and forgiving

Giant XL

We have two of these monster boards that can carry 6-8 people. We use them a lot for youth programmes and corporate events. A great place for a ‘board meeting’.

Red Paddle Co SUP Stockist

Canoe Trail is a Red Paddle Co Stockist where you can demo and ‘try before you buy’ the full range of RED paddle boards with advice and guidance from our team of professional instructors. Most of our instructors are keen SUP’ers and hold instructor qualifications in stand up paddle boarding.

We hold a number of boards in stock and offer great deals matching prices around the country. You can also receive one of our 4 week courses for free when you purchase a board from us.

Experienced Team of SUP Instructors

Our team have considerable experience and qualifications in SUP (stand up Paddle boarding). Rich has been involved in board sports for most of his life as a windsurfing coach and running a windsurfing, bike and skate shop called Endless Summer. Rich has completed a few expeditions by SUP including trying to stand up paddle board around Majorca which coincided with the worst storms in 25 years.

Aaron has tried his hand at whitewater SUP’s and like most whitewater disciplines is annoyingly good. He has completed a SUP qualification and enjoys coaching SUP Skills.

Ashley Kenlock and Ash ‘Man’ Coleman are both experienced SUP coaches with strong skills. Both are great at coaching youth programmes on SUP and also ladies SUP courses. Marc Nicholson is also a qualified SUP coach.


Canoe Trail become a Duke of Edinburgh Award AAP for Walking


We are delighted to announce that we are now approved providers for the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme for walking as well as canoeing. The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme has been running for 60 years with almost 2.6 million participants achieving an award. If you think your child’s school might be interested, please give us or them a shout

We are extremely proud of this new accreditation and believe it to be the perfect fit with our approach to adventure training. Managing Director Ashley Kenlock commented “ As a team we have completed many long distant hikes and walks including the Coast to Coast, West Highland Way and more locally the Greensands Ridge, we are looking forward to sharing our skills and passion around hiking with the participants. We believe in the D of E 110% and will be a hub for high quality provision in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire”.

Over the years Co Director Richard has presented the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards at St James Palace to lots of deserving recipients and this award scheme is a great fit with our company values.


Duke of Edinburgh Canoeing Programmes

We run Bronze and Silver Awards providing the following:

Bronze Award

  • 3 days of training with our instructor team
  • Practice Expedition (2 days)
  • Assessed Expedition (2 days)
  • Access to the latest equipment
  • Logistics
  • Camping Equipment (optional extra)

Silver Award

  • A further 2 days of training
  • Practice Expedition (3 days)
  • Assessed Expedition (3 days)


Canoe Trail has excellent personal and local knowledge of trails and locations around the UK. In particular on the Bronze and Silver Award we have some fantastic hikes and walks around Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and the Three counties. Locations include rural hiking in North Bedfordsshire, The Ouse Valley Way, Greensands Ridge (Bedfordshire’s long distance trail at 42 miles) and of course locations further afield such as the ancient Ridgeway Trail and walks in the Peak District.

We have good knowledge of local campsites as well as our own private woodland called Matchstick Wood adjacent the River Great Ouse.

Our Approach

Our approach is to teach a mix of skills to meet the award requirements but also ensure participants are inspired to progress their technical skills and personal adventures. This is something our coaching team are passionate about and all of them have experience completing adventures and expeditions in a wide range of locations including Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Yukon, Alaska, Nova Scotia, Africa, New Zealand to name a few.


Canoe Trail Stars In Top 50 Weekend Activities Globally In Lonely Planet
Canoe Trail Bedfordshire Features  In Top 50 Weekend Activities Globally In Lonely Planet

The Canoe Trail are delighted to announce our listing in the Top 50 Weekend Adventures for Canoeing and Camping on a global list in Lonely Planet Magazine in February 2017.  Being recognised as a global destination for weekend activities is a real accolade for our family owned business and a real coup for Bedfordshire. A huge part of the attraction which was recognised in Lonely Planet is the easy access from large cities including London, Birmingham and Cambridge.

Many of the Canoe Trail customers travel over 2 hours to enjoy the River Great Ouse and our stunning wilderness campsite. The Canoe Trail canoe and camp option allows people of all ages to experience rural canoeing and kayaking on our river and plenty of wildlife including otters, kingfishers, Herons and Egyptian Geese to name a few.

Dont take our word of it or that of Lonely Planet please do come and see for yourselves.


Canoe Trail Team

Canoe Trail Award Winning Family Business

Canoe Trail has been recognized again for our work in promoting our home town of Bedford and as a great local business. We have received two awards for giving back to the community with charity events and youth programmes and for being a strong force for Tourism.

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