5.5 Hours 30/04/23 or 20/05/23 or 15/07/23 or 09/09/23
Discover Award Crew

The Discover Award allows you to develop your decision-making and practical skills enabling fun and safety on the water, as you become a more skilled and independent paddler. Cost includes your British Canoeing certificate.

30/04/23 or 20/05/23 or 15/07/23 or 09/09/23
Suitable for ages 12+ Anyone under the age of 18 needs to be accompanied by an adult 21 years and over. Participants should be confident paddling flat water with the basic ability to manoeuvre their craft or board. You can choose to complete this course using a Canoe, Kayak, or Stand Up Paddleboard. You do not need to have completed your START Award or any other paddling qualifications to achieve the Discover Award.
Start 08:45 and 15.30 am with 30 minutes lunch
  • Craft
  • Equipment
  • Buoyancy Aid
  • Dry Bag (if needed)
  • Certificate
What you will need to bring

Bring comfortable clothing such as gym wear, shorts, a t-shirt or wetsuit, along with a pair of water shoes, or old trainers. Bring a towel and a change of clothes. No special equipment or clothing is required.

If you are a group of Scouts, club members or friends and want to run your own dedicated course then drop us an email

Award Details

Through this award, you will learn how to choose and effectively use the equipment, whilst developing an understanding of the factors which affect your paddling. You can take the award from any craft, from kayaks, canoes, or SUPs.
Our coaching is tailored to the participant's needs and based on over 180 years of combined coaching experience. The British Canoeing Personal Performance Awards are in place to ensure participants learn the correct techniques and syllabus for the 'Discover' qualification. Learn how to choose and effectively use the equipment, whilst developing an understanding of the factors which affect your paddling; giving you the confidence to progress to making your own choices with the next step Explore Award.
The awards take place on sheltered water on our local river, The River Great Ouse, 4th longest in Britain with structure coaching in bite-sized chunks. We also offer some awards as part of our expeditions and trips to other locations such as the Yukon River Canoe Expedition, Best of Scotland Canoe Trip, and trips to other locations. We have a range of paddlesport courses, If you need a bespoke course such as a group introduction to bigger moving water or expedition training then please contact us.
  • The New Personal Performance Awards (Paddle Awards)  are British Canoeing’s pathway to becoming a competent paddler from Novice to Intermediate and then onwards to more advanced water and techniques. The syllabus allows for a personalized journey to develop core skills to feel confident and safe on sheltered water in a kayak or canoe or stand-up paddleboard.
  • * If for any reason, dates may need to change at Canoe Trail's discretion. This will be notified in advance.

Session Objectives

Getting Ready

Before getting to the water you must choose a suitable kit and equipment and have the correct knowledge to use it. Key points you may consider are:

What will I wear?

What are the clothing options available to me? How might my chosen activity affect which clothing I choose? Am I confident in the use of my chosen personal safety equipment?

What will I use?

What are the different equipment options available and why might I choose one over the other? How do I use my equipment? What do I do if there is a problem with it? Have a think about what additional equipment might be useful to have access to at the bank.


At the Venue

When heading to the water you should have an understanding of your chosen location and how you will access it. Key factors to consider include the type of water, the weather, and features of the location you choose. You can take each of these factors into consideration and ask yourself some questions to ensure the correct decisions are made.

Factor: Type of water

I may need to know: Am I on moving or still water? What are the current water levels? What difference will this make to my session? Where can I go and are there restricted areas? Why might those limits be in place?

Factor: Weather

What I might observe: What is the weather forecast for the time I am on the water? How might the wind speed and direction affect me?

Factor: Accessing the water

I may need to know: Where are the best access points to the water and what makes them suitable? How I can minimise damage to the bank when getting on? What are the best techniques to lift and carry my chosen craft? Are any aids available to help me get it on and off the water?


On the Water

When on the water you should be in control and aware of your surroundings and other users. Key skills to achieve control include staying relaxed and understanding how to move your craft.

Consideration: Other users

I may need to know: Who, or what else, will be on the water? What is the etiquette around fellow water users? How can I minimise disturbance to wildlife?

Skill: Controlling the direction of your craft

I may need to know: Which strokes I can use to move forward and steer my craft? How can I stop my craft and return to my start point? How can my positioning in or on my craft affect its performance?

Consideration: Safety and Rescue

I may need to consider: How would I safely get myself or others back to shore or into the craft?


After the Session

Every time on the water is an opportunity for learning and improving. You can create a positive impact on your future experiences by performing a good post-activity assessment.

Watching what others do: It might be useful to spend some time watching any others on the water. What skills are they using? Are they doing things differently to you? Why might that be?

Consider your experience: What have you learned today? What went well? What could you have done differently? How did your choice of equipment affect the experience? What skills would you like to focus on next time? Is there a specific paddlesport activity or discipline you would like to explore?


Future Development

Each day you spend on the water further expands your skills and knowledge, creating a more enjoyable experience on the water. With no two experiences on the water ever the same, you never stop learning. Continually evaluating the choices you make creates a natural evolution of decision-making ability. When you reach a certain point in this, it may be worth considering if you want to specialise in a particular activity or discipline, developing further skills on the Explore award or Discipline-specific award pathways.


My wife & I highly recommend Ash, Rich & the rest of the canoe trail team. We spent a day with them completing our discover canoe award on a beautiful stretch of the River Ouse at Bedford. They are great teachers and made the day awesome fun. They were particularly brilliant in helping build my wife's confidence in the canoe, as although she enjoys canoeing she can get nervous on the water. I'm looking forward to booking other courses with them in the future.
-- Jonty

Very satisfied with the coaching expertise on offer at Canoe Trail. Learned a lot in one session. Great location, too, well worth driving 40mins to get to for kit & competence.


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