01690 720214

Canoe White Water Skills

Course Overview

Aimed at capable flat water paddlers solo or tandem, who want to develop their white water boat-handling skills. Under the guidance of our experienced coaches you?ll cover strategies for running white water and shooting white water rapids safely.

Experience Required

Confident flat water paddler with the ability to manoeuvre your craft with ease

Scheduled Dates

Detailed Course Notes

You should be 18 years old to attend this course.

Who is it for?
This course is for canoeists who would like a safe and enjoyable introduction to the skills of white water canoeing, either tandem or solo.  You should be able to:

  • Paddle a flat water course, in control, including turns to the right and left

  • Make progress into, across and down the wind

  • Be reasonably fit

If you are a tandem paddler you should ideally come with your paddling partner to enable us to coach your team paddling. 

Course Content
We will begin using local venues, and will progress to other rivers in the area, aiming to look at the following areas:

  • Refining existing boat handling skills

  • Introduce white water skills

  • Reading white water

  • Basic safety principles and practices of white water canoeing

  • Ferries, both up stream and down stream

  • Breaking in and out of the current

  • Setting into eddies

  • The outfitting of canoes for white water

Useful Books

The following books may be of interest to you before or after you come on the course.

  • Path of the Paddle by Bill Mason
  • Paddle your Own Canoe by J. McGuffin
  • Thrill of the Paddle by Mason and Schnider

What's Included In The Price?

Whether you choose to stay with us or you have alternative accommodation nearby, the following items are included in the total cost.

    Free tea, coffee or selected hot drinks for the duration of your visit
    Afternoon tea & homemade cakes
    Kayak or canoe hire
    Secure boat storage (if you choose to bring your own boat)
    Equipment hire
    Free (low-speed) wifi access in the bar & dining room
    In course transport
    Railway station pick up & drop off (please call to arrange)
    Parking with CCTV surveillance
    Free use of climbing wall, gym, MTB skills course & rolling pool

    If you choose to stay with us, these items are also included in the total cost:

    Accommodation the night before your course
    Accommodation during your course
    Breakfast & evening meal
    Bar Lunch/packed lunch

Accommodation For This Course

Plas y Brenin Main House

Your course is based at Plas y Brenin, The National Mountain Sports Centre in Capel Curig, North Wales, LL24 0ET.

If you are staying with us,

If you have chosen to add accommodation onto this course or holiday it is usually in the main house in a comfy en-suite room (normally shared with another guest). Each room has tea and coffee making facilities and all bed linen and towels are provided.

This includes accommodation the night before your first day. Your room will be available from 6pm. On your last day you will need to vacate your room by 10am. It is sometimes possible to arrange to stay an extra night please phone 01690 720214 for availability and cost.

Secure storage facilities, showers and toilets are available for you to use on your departure day once you have checked out of your room should you need them, please ask at reception.

Also included, if you chosen to add accommodation, are all your meals - breakfast, packed lunch, afternoon tea and freshly baked cakes and a three course evening meal. Please bear in mind an evening meal is not provided on the night before your course or on the last day of your course but our bar will be serving meals from 7.00pm until 8.45pm.

If you are are not staying with us but coming in each day,

If you choose to come in daily for your course or holiday you will need to arrive ready for a 9am welcome talk on the first day. For the rest of your course or holiday you will need to be here for 9.15am. We return from a full day of activity, usually in time for tea and cakes at 5pm (included).

There are more activities from 5.30 - 6.30 on some days of your course or holiday, please check on the first day.

For most of our awards and qualification courses there will be further evening sessions on some days which you need to attend, please check on the first day.

There is an 8pm adventure talk by one of our coaches on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday evenings which you are welcome to come to. Find out more about the upcoming talks here.

On the final day you will be finished by 5pm.

For courses based on-site our bar will be serving lunches from 12pm until 2pm or you are welcome to bring a packed lunch.

If your course is based away from the centre then you will need to bring a packed lunch with you. Each evening our bar serves evening meals from 7pm until 8.45pm if you wish to eat here.

You can arrange to have any of the following meals - breakfast, packed lunch and a three course centre dinner, by contacting our customer services team on 01690 720214 or

follow this link for more details

What Equipment Do You Need To Bring?

  • Personal paddling clothing

  • Footwear to cope with bank and boat

  • Swimming costume/trunks

  • Warm clothes for when you get off the water

  • Warm hat, gloves, neck gaiter/buff, sun hat

  • Towel

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

  • Bouyancy aid

  • Helmet

  • Drinks bottle

  • Flask

  • Lunch bag/box

  • Personal first aid kit

  • High factor sun screen

  • Midge repellant

  • Large kit bag (for wet paddling kit)

  • Notebook and pen

  • Dry bag

  • Boat

  • Paddle

  • Spraydeck (if kayaking)

  • Throwline

  • Noseclip/ear plugs if you use them

The following items are available for you to borrow from our equipment stores free of charge so you don't need to rush out and buy them.

  • Wetsuit

  • Paddling cag

  • Buoyancy aid

  • Helmet

  • Dry bag

  • Large kit bag (for wet paddling kit)

  • Boat

  • Paddle

  • Spraydeck (if kayaking)

Our equipment stores stock wetsuits socks, noseclips and ear plugs which you can purchase if you find you need them during your course

Customer Reviews For This Course

Good course

will horsley

Good course, thanks. Did not use Plas y Brenin accommodation but was a very nice place and nice bar.


S & S

We have just come back from a fantastic weekend at Plas Y Brenin. Our instructor Dave was patient, skillful and very knowledgeable, or to use his CLAP mnemonic:
Considerate: although there were only three of us in the group, all of different standards, he taught us the skills we wanted to learn and that Communication in a tandem was very important. Laughs: it's a serious course, where we were taught the necessary skills to navigate rivers confidently, whilst in full control of the canoe. However we also laughed a lot, especially when we sailed across the lake(pink and yellow sail)as a tandem with the two canoes tied together, whilst one of us was playing the ukelele and we all sang along. Very surreal!
Anticipation: we knew what we wanted to learn, but didn't anticipate, that with the right skills and techniques, we also gained the confidence to canoe white water safely.
Personable: Dave is full of amazing and crazy stories, but he always had time to talks things through very patiently and skillfully showed us what we had to do.
Thanks for yet another great course!

Achievable, memorable and utterly inspirational

Russell Fancourt

I cannot thank Chris our coach enough for two thoroughly enjoyable days paddling. Due to low water we had to travel each day to the Dee but it made a nice change for someone else to be doing the driving. Chris observed us warming up on the water and gradually introduced gentle challenges to test our skills. He was accurate in recognising problems in technique and guided me towards small achievable steps that seemed to really make a difference. It was good to be given the space and time to practice and to reflect on what I was trying to do. Progressing to slightly bigger rapids over the 2 days was made achievable with careful bank inspections and decisions on what line to take, followed of course by Chris' impeccable demonstration.
The accommodation, the food and the quality of care at the centre was just brilliant. Everyone was just so friendly, so welcoming and so positive. I knew that I was having a good weekend because not once did any thoughts about home come to mind .. I was completely relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed a bit of “me” time.
I came away from the course feeling inspired to go on and do something else, either in terms of further skills development or even looking again at where I am as a coach and what might be useful to do next. In both cases Chris’ advice has been so helpful.
For this “old” level 2 coach who has spent so many years doing the same things, paddling the same trips with the same people, this experience was an utter joy. I recommend it without reservation so you too can be inspired.
Thank you all so much

A bit dissapointed

Peter Watson-Brown

Good individual coaching from Chris, a bit dissapointed with amount of time actually spent on moving water - not enough.

Great course

Simon Hayes

This was another great course. I've done it before but it's always worth another go as it's tailored to your needs every time.

We had another great coach which is always the case at PYB.

The location of north Wales is unbeatable and allows a good choice of venues to suit all comers. You always get the best here and I would

recommend it to anyone.

What a great weekend

Jon Tilley

Excellent course, up to the usual PYB high standards.

The group was split into 3 with Loel instructing the tandem paddlers and Chris and Jules dividing the solo paddlers based on an initial study of our skills.

Due to the number of people at the mill, our group moved a bit further up the river and practiced ferrying back and forth working on speed, angle, edging and trim.

After lunch, Jules asked us which areas we wanted to work on and gave us specific exercises to improve them along with videoing us so that we could see the improvement.

The following day it was back to the Dee for a variety of trips.

Our group travelled along the canal and then made our way back down the Dee putting into practice the skills we had learnt the previous day.

A great way to spend a weekend.

Grandad and grandson fall in but don't fall out!

Geoff Griffiths

I attended this course with my sixteen year old grandson as my tandem partner. We both had limited experience which I outlined to pyb when I booked the course, we had canoed the rivers Tay and Spey and have no other qualifications or experience. I was the oldest student and my grandson Tom the youngest. Despite the challenge we presented to the instructors they coped brilliantly, dividing us into groups of (more or less) matching ability. Tom and I learned a great deal, we grew in confidence and can't wait to get on our next river trip. As ever Plas y Brenin did everything supremely well. Definitely the place to go to learn mountain/outdoor skills in a safe and highly professional environment.

Very Good Course

Richard Smith

The course was very good and suited me very well.
I had had plenty of experience paddling open canoes on flat water (to the old 3* level), but had only dabbled on moving water - and without much success.
Having said that, I am a level 2 kayak coach, and am confident on grade II-III water in a short boat.
This course was ideal for transferring my kayaking skills over to canoeing. In fact, I would even say that my kayaking skills have benefited from the weekend.
The course was tailored to the group that attended. That is, if we had been white water novices (and not mostly kayakers) then we were told that it would have had a different emphasis. I think it would be appropriate for all levels of open boater.
Thanks Pete and Spike!

Awesome Course

Karl Huebler

The course was a fantastic introduction to moving water in a canoe. I have considerable experience of using an open boat on flat water, as well as experience in a kayak on moving water and it was excellent for allowing me to transfer the skills over.

The course ran at a fantastic pace, with Peter and Spike being very adaptable to the needs of the group, ranging from a small group of tandem paddlers up to a significantly larger group of solo paddlers.

Highlights of the course: - Seeing Peter surfing a wave standing up, pulling off my own surfing on a wave (even with my personal fight with a stopper).

Low light: - traveling to the river (about an hour each way), due to the lack of rain in the area (who'd have thought in Wales!).

The only problem I have now, is that having had a play in different boats I now know what boat I want to buy.


Simon Hayes

This course was excellent as I have come to expect from Plas y Brennin.

I keep coming back again and again for canoeing and climbing because the instructors are always so good.

Their enthusiasm and experience can't be beaten. They always try to make sure you get the best from the course, whatever the weather or your level of ability.

The facilities and equipment are top notch and the atmosphere of the place is infectious. It makes you want to return for another adventure and the rivers and mountains of Snowdonia are the perfect setting.

I've no doubt I'll be there again next year.

A good course for fairly experienced flat water paddlers

Jon Morgan

We started Day 1 of the course by travelling to the Mill at Llangollen.
Our instructor Pete had us paddle/ warm up for a couple of minutes during which he assessed our inabilities/ abilities. Once Pete had decided what we were capable of, we practised various white water skills & techniques before running a wee drop to bring us in close to where we stopped for lunch.
After lunch we practised the skills we had learnt earlier, (ferry gliding, bow draws, breaking in & out of eddies etc, before progressing down to the rapid where we would spend the rest of the day brushing up on what we had been taught. A nifty bit of canoeing was displayed by Pete who demonstrated surfing the stopper at the bottom of the rapid while posing, sorry - demonstrating how to stand in your craft in the unlikeliest of places!!
To the dismay of onlookers he maintained his canoe in an upright position.
We made it back to PYB for a tasty evening meal and a few scoops in the bar, followed by polishing off my room mate Andy's Flagon of Rum he brought to ease aching muscles!!.
Day 2 started with 2x paracetamol and a hearty breakfast. We loaded the gear onto the minibus and travelled to the sleepy hollow of Menai Bridge. We put into the Menai Strait just prior to Telford's impressive suspension bridge just as the tide was starting to flow. The idea was to have a quick warm up in the still waters of the quayside prior to heading down to the bridge to play "Underneath The Arches," Stay close to your instuctor at all times is the best advice!! I accidentally nosed out into the main flow & had a rather more brisk warm up than anticipated in the attempt to get back!
We spent an hour or so learning to handle the canoes in interesting currents, before heading down the strait to the monastery & attempting a ferry glide across a wide stretch of water intent on taking us to Ireland!!. Another brisk workout & more instruction, led us to the end of the course.
The course was pitched at the capabilities of the students & was excellent in all aspects.
Pete Catterall is the most gifted open boater I have had the pleasure to meet & instructed us superbly. The carrot cake was to die for!! Jon Morgan

Not found what you were looking for?

You can hire one of our coaches instructors or guides from only £250 per day. They'll tailor the day to suit your aims and aspirations perfectly.
You can enjoy one to one coaching for that cost or if you get together as a group, depending on the activity, you can split that cost between up to 6 of you. If you are a group we can run any of our courses on a date that suits you and your friends. Or you could just write your own agenda for a week or weekend and we'll price it up for you - with or without accommodation. What's more, just like out normal course fees, our private instructor hire charge covers all your equipment too. Click on the link below to fill in a request form and one of our coaches will call you back (or e-mail if you'd prefer) to discuss things in detail with you.

Fill in a Callback Form

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