cropped-cropped-cropped-Stuart-on-WW-course-1.jpgHopefully the following questions and answers will answer you initial questions, but if you have any queries or want further details please contact us for more information.


Tell me about Halifax Canoe Club?

We are an active and family orientated canoe club based on the River Calder in Sowerby Bridge, Halifax. Club paddlers can often be seen playing on the white water course at the club, below County Bridge. We run regular activities throughout the year for all levels of abilities including courses for beginners, swimming pool sessions and coaching on both flat and white water at the club. Between April and September we are on the river in Sowerby Bridge. In winter our focus is on pool sessions and river trips.

We are affiliated to the British Canoeing, the sports governing body in the UK and hold the BC Top Club and Sport England Club Mark awards in recognition of our activities for young people.

Where is the Club based?

We have a clubhouse with changing rooms, showers and boat storage facilities in Greenups Mill, Sowerby Bridge. This is next to the River Calder (just downstream of County Bridge). From here we have access to the white water course and a stretch of flat water where our summer courses and activities take place. In the winter we use a local pool for evening sessions

What activities does the Club run?

We run regular activities throughout the year for all levels of abilities including courses for beginners, swimming pool sessions and coaching on both flat and white water at the club. The club runs regular day and weekend trips to paddle other rivers, go canoe surfing or participate in events. Paddlers from the club compete across the UK at other events at various levels. For more details of the kind of things the club do, see the Events page.

The Club’s main activities are providing coached sessions and white water kayaking both on the River Calder and on trips away. However, club members take part in a wide range of other paddlesport disciplines.

I’m a complete beginner – how do I get started?

In the summer we run a number of beginners courses on the river at Sowerby Bridge, while in the winter we run pool sessions at local swimming baths, which are suitable for complete beginners. Contact us so we can let you know when beginners courses or pool sessions are running.

I’m interested in the summer beginner’s courses – can you tell me more?

The beginners courses on the river usually start in early May, the dates for these appear on our website (usually in early March). These will take you right through all the foundation skills and leads to the BC 1 Star Award. The cost for a beginner’s courses are free, but we do require you to become a member of the club for the year (to the following March), use of all the necessary equipment (kayak, paddle, buoyancy aid helmet) and the coached sessions. If there is more than one member of a family doing a beginner’s course then the cost is still just the cost  of a family membership of the Club (see our membership pages for current costs).

I’m interested in the winter pool sessions – can you tell me more?

In the winter our pool sessions run in 5-week blocks from October to March in a local pool (again dates are listed on our website). There is a cost or 2017/8 a 5-week block cost £35 plus for non-member a token £5 to cover membership for the remainder of the year to the following March. This includes coaching and use of kayak, paddle etc – but most of the costs is to cover the hire of the pool. A pool session will introduce you to all the foundation skills you need to get you started.

Do I need to be a strong swimmer?

You need to be able to swim 50m in normal canoeing clothing, so this includes wearing a buoyancy aid. As canoes and kayaks can and do capsize you need to be confident in the water and happy to go underwater. If you are not a strong swimmer, please let us know when booking onto a course and let your coaches know on the first night of a course. In the pool we can relax the requirement to be able to swim 50m a little.

How old do children need to be to start canoeing?

As children all develop at different rates there is no set age, it is more a matter of being big enough and co-ordinated enough to manage to paddle. From experience this tends to be around 7 or 8 years old. The Club has a number of junior kayaks and smaller paddles that make it easier for youngsters to join in.

What can I do after I’ve done a beginners course?

It’s entirely up to you but most people go move on to a coached course to take them to the next level of developing their skills.  This could be progressing to paddling competently on flat water, white water, towards the BC 2  and 3 Star Awards and beyond, or starting to compete in slalom. As you progress you can take part in river trips, play on the white water at the club, compete or go on weekends away. We also encourage people to have a go at various other different disciplines of the sport.

Many club members enjoy playboating and river running, but opportunities exist to get involved in racing or train to become qualified as a coach.

I’ve paddled before how can I get involved?

Yes, the best way to do this depends on your previous experience. If you have a bit of experience, then it may be more appropriate for you to go straight onto our intermediate coaching sessions rather than a beginner’s course. These run on the river between April and September (1 evening per week) – the dates for these appear on our website as soon as they are known. We can also slot people into higher level  courses if this is more appropriate to their previous experience.

Of course, if you have paddled before there is no need to join one of our courses, you can just come along and paddle with us – although we are likely to ask some questions about your previous experience just to ensure you have the skills to safely join in at the level you want to.

Do I need to be a member?

To join in club activities (coached courses, trips etc) you do need to be a member. When you join one of our beginner’s courses you join the Club for that year. For current fees see the membership pages. We also have concessionary rates available for full time students and unemployed people. Membership runs from April to March each year.

What do I get for my membership?

Use of the club facilities (changing rooms etc), free coaching from our BC qualified coaches and free use of club gear during club activities, plus the opportunity to join in with the wide range of club activities (on and off the water). You get a copy of the Club’s yearbook (now online), which tells you most of the things that you need to know about the Club and you also get our newsletters and emails about events. A limited amount of space is available for members to store boats at the clubhouse for an additional fee. Adult members can also get a key for the clubhouse.

Do I need my own kayak and other equipment?

At first you don’t need any special equipment, as this is all included in our beginners courses. For all club organised courses  you can use club equipment (people doing coached courses with us get priority for the use of club equipment). There is no charge for use of club equipment as part of a coached club activity.  If you want to use equipment elsewhere (i.e. take a boat on holiday there is a charge, and this is subject to club needs).

As you progress you will want to get your own equipment and eventually a kayak, but there’s no pressure to go out and buy one, and you’ll probably want to try quite a few and decide what aspects of the sport you want be involved in before you buy a boat.

What activities do you offer for young people?

Young people can join in the clubs activities at all levels including coached courses from beginners through to an advanced level on moving water, we also have young people going on to do leadership and coaching awards.

In the summer we run a weekly beginner and intermediate sessions for young people, have a slalom training group and our club night. These allow youngsters to participate regularly and try out different aspects of the sport (Canadian canoeing, slalom, playboating, etc) under the watchful eye of qualified coaches. We also encourage young people to have a go at slalom and as there experience develops join in with river trips. We can also help if you would like to do canoeing as part of a GCSE in PE or towards sections of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.

Do you do anything other than canoeing?

We have a number of social events throughout the year, including our Annual General Meeting in January and summer barbeques. Our weekend trips away are sociable and non-paddling family members usually come along as well.

Who do I contact for more information?

Contact our Secretary or have a look round or our website.