01690 720214

Solo Canoe Masterclass

Course Overview

This course is designed purely for the solo paddler. During the week your coach will develop your solo paddling skills, honing your performance to make you a true master of your craft. The boost in confidence and ability will help you enjoy your solo boating even more than you thought possible.

Experience Required

have paddled in the stern of a tandem crew or have basic solo skills.

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 to develop their solo paddling skills in a safe and enjoyable environment. The minimum experienced required is basic solo skills or have paddled in the stern as part of a tandem crew.

Course Content
The week starts with consolidation of your existing skills before developing your solo skills. A variety of coaching venues maybe use to make the best use of the water levels and weather conditions.  We will aim to look at the following areas:

  • Revision of basic solo skills

  • Flat water skills

  • Moving water skills

  • Open water skills

  • Safety skills where appropriate

The main emphasis of the course is on developing your personal skills. The course programme is quite broad to allow the flexibility to tailor the skills delivered to your enable the progress and improvement of your solo paddling skills.

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

Great course

David F

A great training course that exceeded my expectations of the week.

The centre and it's staff were excellent, whilst Chris Evans, our instructor for the week was great.

After listening to what we hoped to gain from the week, we then worked through a wide range of skills, starting with flat through to moving water and some exciting river trips at the end of the week.

Plenty of opportunities throughout the week to ask questions and moved at a pace that worked for all of us.

As per Steve's more in depth review below, will also be back for the WW course.

Big thanks to Chris and all the PYB staff for a great week.

Excellent Course

Steve Phillips

I have been kayaking for a few years but have increasingly preferred taking the canoe out. Having had very little instruction in a canoe I decided that the Solo Canoe Master Class would be a good option. Without a doubt this turned out to be one of the best training courses I have ever been on.

If you have never been to PYB the facilities are excellent, the center is clean, warm and importantly the food is very good.

The course:
There were only three of us and Chris as our instructor. We all gelled and the banter between the four of us was good and added to an excellent course.

We started off on the lake by the center on day one on basic paddle strokes and by the last day were running rapids. We covered a huge range of skills and Chris linked them all seamlessly through the week.

Some of the skills covered were emptying boats and re-entering in open water, lining through boat breaking rapids, river reading and running, paddle types and choice, boat trim and different paddle strokes, plus we even tried poling.

During the week we paddled two lakes and two rivers, tried out different canoes including white water and racing canoes and had a great time.

The things Chris could do with the canoe was impressive and would inspire confidence in all of us as we were aware of what an open 16 foot canoe was capable of. Watching Chris surf the play wave at the Dee Mill and spin a 16 foot open canoe gave me the confidence to surf the wave (for a short while) and was my personal highlight to the week.

The only downside was that the week went so fast. A few weeks on and I have ordered a new open canoe and have been out in an OC-1. I will have to do the white water weekend course now.

Thank you to all the PYB staff that contributed to a great week.

Great course for all canoeists

Will Tutton

This course is the best canoeing course I have been on (I have been on other courses at PYB) it gave me a new perspective on open canoeing, despite paddling for over twenty years, as well as helping me hone an array of skills. The coaches, Chris Evans and Pete Catterall, were fantastic, adapting our schedule and location to suit the variety of aspects we wanted to cover and the variance in experience and paddling ability, as well as being highly personable and willing to discuss all aspects of canoeing in great depth. I'd really recommend the course to those coming into open boating or having been an open boater for sometime, since the key philosophy was to enjoy the experience and learn from the journeys we took and above all not to push one outside ones personal limits which seems to be the idea at some other centres; you are guaranteed to learn something everyday. Pete also introduced us to Ray Goodwin who we bumped into one day, proving much entertaining banter with Pete, and wisdom on poling in an Explorer 15! The course is really inspiring, and has reinvigorated my love of open boating, as well as North Wales, having been brought up nearby on the Wirral. I'd really recommend the Plas Curig Hostel if PYB is fully booked (2 min drive from PYB), awesome rooms and facilities.

Excellent Course and Excellent Instructor

Chris Evans

An excellent course run by an excellent instructor. Although there was little or no brief prior to the commencement of the Masterclass course, Chris rapidly assessed what was expected from the four days and despite challenging conditions (strong winds, rain and sleet) expertly sought out locations in which to achieve the days objectives. Despite my initial apprehension on each of these days, Chris's judgement was found to be 'spot on', and my self-doubts were soon found to be baseless. The progress that I achieved as a result of his excellent guidance and client awareness was most rewarding. His honestly and openness concerning his own approach to stressful/demanding situations was particularly helpful in developing my own coping strategies in unfamiliar canoeing environments. Work in both single and double canoes further extended my experience beyond what was expected, and thereby broadened the scope of what was achievable in the future. I would have no hesitation in recommending Chris or paddling with Chris in the future - thanks for a great four days.

Masters of the Universal J stroke

Steven Smith

What a blast!

I was in the Masterclass of May 2010 under the supervision of Zen Canoe Master Pete Catterall. Brilliant instructor and paddling companion. Also said to be good at whitewater kayaking.

I had about 4 years experience of open boating - mostly flat water, but some whitewater and all self-taught. Therefore I came to the course with limited technical ability and a fair few bad habits. But enough of those. By the end of the course I feel I am proficient across a range of strokes (don't you just love that Indian J?). And, importantly, I'm confident that I know how to paddle solo safely on inland and coastal flat water as well as on Grade 2 river and tidal conditions. That's part of the beauty of this course: you cover a lot of stuff in the 5 days.

Others say that this course takes you to about Level 3, so I guess that is a good indication of what you can aspire to.

Even if you have limited experience or knowledge, but just want to do it better, I would say this course course should be for you: and for those with established skills, I'm sure the PYB instructors will help you take your skills further.

And afterwards....? In the words of the Zen Canoe Master: "just go and do it"

PYB is a well-run, comfortable place to return to at the end of the day - on top of top-rate paddling locations and top-flight instructors, what more do you want?

A good way for an old L2K coach to get Open Boat Experience

Dave Gee

As an old style BCU Level 2 Kayak coach with limited Open Boat experience I was looking for a fun way to increase my hours and experience, whilst having a great holiday. (Longer term I am aiming to move over to UKCC L2 and so need 3* OC skills).

At the start of the week I guess I was an average BCU 2* in a Canoe and by the end of the week I had learnt a lot of additional strokes, had some experience on a range of water and at a level in my paddling where I am now thinking about going for a 3* Canoe assessment.

Much of course depends on who is on the course and the water levels but we got to paddle in the Menai Straits and at the Mill at Llangollen, as well as a gentle paddle up the Conwy Estuary.

Lakes, learning & laughs ( &some rivers too)


I was excited and just a little nervous about going on the course, not knowing what to expect and whether I would be one ever-so-slightly feeble female amongst a group of muscle men. I needn't have worried - on this course women to men were 5:3 so I was in a majority. I arrived with high expectations about the standard of instruction based on reports about PyB I'd heard, but I have to say that even these were exceeded.

The areas we covered were
- trim for a variety of conditions
-body position & movement in paddling
-acceleration and paddling speeds
-edging to various degrees,including-in my case-what happens if you over-edge (you get very wet)
-backwards paddling
-variety of forward-paddling strokes - knifed J & Indian
-moving water techniques
-various turns including inside pivot turn; carving turns
-cross deck techniques

We covered paddling, poling, sailing; paddled on calm, flat water, exposed lake conditions and white water

The course was very flexible and took into account our previous experience, what we wanted to learn and the water and weather conditions (very windy).

I went in with 2* skills developed through club paddling over a couple of years. I felt the course built really well on these. I was glad I had that experience to start with as I don't feel I would have got as much out of it if I had less of a grounding in the basics. I had a 3* syllabus with me & all of what we did related directly to that which was great for me.

Rose & Pete were so postive & encouraging and obviously ace paddlers themselves. Every opportunity to pass on a teaching point was used. I made copious notes each night & I'm really glad I did, because they're a great reference now for me to practice from.

Our group got on really well. Maybe I was lucky, but I had so much fun with them. The course happened to start on my birthday and all in all it was the best extended birthday I've had in a long time!

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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