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Very good the best place for sports in Scotland well done
(Karyna, August)

COURSES: Paddlesports

Starting Young

Starting Young

On the river

On the river

Heading Downstream

Heading Downstream

Paddlesports Group

Paddlesports Group

Kingussie River

Kingussie River

Paddlesport courses

A range of courses from beginner to advanced

We run a five-day course most every week of the summer holidays, just choose the day you fancy or do all of them! Sessions start at 10-12am and 1-3pm

Day one Generally Mondays and Saturdays.  Kayaking and Canadian canoeing on the loch learning to steer & getting over the fear of capsizing with an introduction to moving water in the afternoon. You will stay at the Loch Insh base this day.

Day two Tuesdays or Sundays an introduction to Canadian canoeing on the river from Kingussie to Loch Insh  (bring a packed lunch).  Learn to read the river, and how to negotiate basic obstacles; how to set up your boat and try out new touring strokes.  A great chance to spot wildlife as you pass through one of  the largest wetland nature reserves in Europe.

Day three Wednesday or by arrangement.Loch Insh to Aviemore in kayaks. Learning the same as above but in Kayaks moving on down the Spey using the next section to Aviemore which is slighty rougher. A chance to put into practice many of the techniques introduced the day before but adapted for kayaking. Faster and tighter and a bit more exhilarating! The kayaks are used because some of the drops and rapids are quite narrow.

We finish with a two day expedition on Thursday, Friday or by arrangement from Grantown to Aberlour. This section is about 10 miles each day and after the week you will have traversed the best parts of the River Spey, in total about 50 miles! A great achievement for your Duke of Edinburgh award or just to say you have done it! This section is the wildest bit up to grade three rapids.  Most other centres only do this section in rafts! You will probably capsize on these days so be prepared! But if you don’t fall in your probably not trying hard enough?!

All instructors at Loch Insh teach using the new UKCC coaching scheme and are trained accordingly. Ask during your course if you would like to be assessed for the new Star test awards or Paddle Power awards and this can be done during your stay.

Note: we only asses the inland awards i.e. Open Canoe and kayak up to three Star, lthough the other awards are shown for your reference

Adults Awards

Paddlesport Start 1 To 3 Star

The Paddlesport Start Award is designed to provide a framework for a paddlers first session. It is very much an encouragement  award and can be used by coaches who offer taster sessions, or as a first session of a series. It is an adult version of Paddlepower start.

The BCU One Star is a flat water award that demonstrates an individual has basic boat control and foundation skills.The one star can be taken in any kind of paddlesport craft (e.g. sit-on-top, slalom C2, polo boat, sea kayak, racing canoe etc.)

The BCU Two Star is an improvement award that helps paddlers develop fundamental paddlesport skills on flat water. The emphasis is on gaining a breadth of experience, creating the desired movement of the boat and developing an understanding of how the paddle, boat and water interact.

This award is significantly different to the old 2 star, with a change to develop generic movement skills that can transfer to any discipline and with an assessed journey. (Assessors will need to be able to assess the award in a variety of craft.)

Successful performance at BCU Three Star level indicates that a candidate can consider themselves an intermediate paddler rather than a beginner.

Unlike the existing award this will be discipline specific with awards in Sea Kayak, Surf,  Open Canoe, White Water Kayak, Flat Water Kayak and some of the competitive disciplines. The three star paddler will be a competent performer in sheltered to moderate water environments and have the ability to paddle unsupervised, with similar standard paddlers on sheltered water. The new award will look similar in structure to the existing 4 star, but with the skills applicable in an easier environment.

When you successfully complete a Star Test you will receive a certificate (please note that we no longer issue badges)

Child Awards

Paddlepower is an exciting scheme that has been designed to meet the needs of young people. It’s colourful and youth centred approach aims to :

  • Encourage more young people to come into and stay in the sport
  • Provide progression and reward achievement in a wide range of topics
  • Show them all aspects of the sport – both competitive and adventurous
  • Provide signposts into Clubs where their skills and development can be nurtured
  • Provide a flexible structure for delivery according to venue/situation

The Paddlepower Scheme consists of 5 youth friendly awards all with a colourful and youth friendly approach to provide an appopriate pathway for young paddlers.

The Paddlepower Awards:

Paddlepower Start
An entry level award suitable for taster sessions or as part of a series of sessions.

Paddlepower Passport
Four progressive levels based on 24 topics which can be grouped into Safety Awareness, Paddling Skills, Varied Experiences, and Supporting Knowledge. The award is equivalent to 1 Star.

Paddlepower Discover
This follows on from Passport with a further 4 levels to take the young paddler to equivalent of 2 star standard.

Paddlepower Explore
Three different levels take the paddler on an extensive journey exploring the great variety Paddlesport, with topics focused on participation in events and journeys in the competitive and non-competitive disciplines.

Paddlepower Excel
Three levels to test the paddler on all elements of paddlesport including being responsible for self and others, participation in journeys, coaching sessions, training, events/competitions in a variety of disciplines, background knowledge of the sport; access, rules, environmental, nutrition and goal setting.

How does it work?

At Paddlepower Start there is a certificate which is awarded by the coach. This also has space for an organisation to add their contact details to signpost the paddler to future courses.

For each award after Start there is a colourful 6 page Progress Card for the young paddler to record their progress and to encourage them to move to the next stage. On completion of the award the youth sends the Progress Card to the BCU to receive a certificate.

Who can deliver the Awards?
A Level 1 coach can deliver Paddlepower Start, after that a Level 2 coach is required. For Explore and Excel a Level 2 coach can deliver with support from a discipline specific coach/s.

How is Paddlepower Different from the Star Awards?
Paddlepower has been designed around the needs of young people – fun, colourful and with easily identifiable progression mapped to the Long Term Paddler Development framework. The BCU recommend Paddlepower as most suitable for young people aged 14 or under and the Star Awards for most paddlers aged over 16.

How do I get started?
A starter pack containing the coaches manual,  a Paddlepower Start Certificate, a Paddlepower Passport, Discover, Explore and Excel Progress Card and a sample of the ‘well done’ sticker can be purchased from the BCU e-shop or by contacting

The certificates and progress cards are not available on the e-shop but can be ordered via the resource order form.

Loch Insh carries all the logbooks.  Tthey can be purchased during your course (from your instructor.)