NEW Paddlesport Touring Leader in snowy Scotland

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Launched in January 2021, the NEW Paddlesport Touring Leader supports you to lead fun, safe and enjoyable mixed craft journeys, on moderate inland water. This new award is already proving popular and we hear from Grant, Emily and Piotr.

Hear from Grant, who recently ran the NEW Paddlesport Touring Leader…

It’s a really great award to run as the scope of the award is epic! It has challenges as an assessor, mainly around trying to ensure that we visit the right environment with the right craft. Running the assessment over two days for four candidates gave us much more options to find appropriate environments.

We had a real mix of paddling experience in the candidates from one new(ish) qualified Paddlesport Instructor to one who had previously held Leadership Provider roles. 3 out of the 4 held Moderate Water Leader awards with 2 of them holding advanced water leader awards in other disciplines but felt that this award better matched their work now.

All of the candidates came into this award without any formal training, having used the skills check list. They all completed informal training to reach the standards.

The candidates loved it! For them it really matches the type of work that they want to be doing taking clients into those environment in the client’s choice of craft.

Hear from Emily, newly qualified Paddlesport Touring Leader…

My paddling journey started swimming around capsized boats with the Scouts, moving on to work at a variety of activity centres as well as guiding sea kayaking expedition internationally for around 4 years. More recently I’ve returned to the UK and found a home in Perth where I’ve waited out the Covid pandemic whilst working at Willowgate and exploring surrounding Perthshire. I’ve always dabbled in a range of disciplines, but would probably call myself a sea kayaker first, white water kayaker second and have recently started falling for the world of white water SUP, probably due to the comedy falls you get to witness! Regardless of where I am, or what I’m floating in I’m generally happiest on the water (especially with a flask of tea).

The Paddlesport Touring Leader is the perfect mix of disciplines and environments. When I read about this new award it caught my attention as it comes with so much freedom to go lead a range of craft across flat, open and slow moving water. Working at Willowgate Activity Centre on the River Tay it gives me much more scope. Within a short section of the river, the environment quite quickly turns from moving water (Grade 1 (2)) to wide open water. Before the Paddlesport Touring Leader existed, I would have had to hold more than one leading qualification to take people on tours along this stretch of water. It’s a great bundle of the lower end of all environments which is perfect for what I needed!

This award will allow me to help people explore the Tay, and will give me that little bit of extra freedom, to lead people in whichever craft they feel comfortable. It’s amazing to be able to take local people places they may not normally have been and I’m excited to watch the faces of the locals as they slide down the Grade 2 shoot under the Perth bridge that they’ve walked past so many times. As restrictions ease, taking this same community to a wide variety of local paddling spots will open up a lot of opportunities that they and I would not have had without the Paddlesport Touring Leader. In short, the award will give me a chance to visit more places, have more fun and introduce more people to the paddling world that we all know and love.

Hear from Piotr, newly qualified Paddlesport Touring Leader…

We did it, BC Paddlesport Touring Leader award completed! We achieved this new qualification which perfectly matches our day-to-day operations.

We are based in Perthshire, Scotland, offering guided kayak tours in the area. Taking participants on calmer rivers, including the tidal sections of the Tay, Earn and nearby lochs I felt the new Paddlesport Touring Leader would be a great choice for our staff.

We all hold leadership qualifications in other disciplines such as sea, white water kayak and open canoeing. All of these hugely benefit our clients but the Paddlesport Touring Award is the one which will perfectly match where we run guided trips. Often our participants have never paddled before, so they wish to feel inspired, relaxed and take their friends or family members along. Usually they also wish to use mixed crafts to suit everybody’s aims for the trip – this is exactly what touring is about. Add to this interesting facts about the wildlife, history, maybe a picnic and you have a recipe for a fantastic day out.

I was very excited when the new award was announced to being available from January 2021. We have been planning the assessments since the end of last year but because of the lockdown restrictions, everything was a little bit more complicated. I had hoped that by delaying it by a few weeks that it would be a little warmer for when we had to complete the rescues. However, the Scottish weather didn’t ‘fail us’. When completing the tasks at scenic Loch Rannoch in the Heart of Scotland or in Dunkeld on the River Tay we had to face snow, squalls and temperatures of minus 3! We are very grateful that Grant was able to provide such a good assessment for us at Outdoor Explore, allowing myself, Chris, Danny and Keith to achieve the award in a relaxed, learner-friendly and inspiring layout.

I have been paddling, coaching, guiding and gaining qualifications in the UK for the last 15 years and it’s great to see the British Canoeing Awarding Body courses becoming more specific to a wider audience and operating role models. Now we are all just looking forward to the busy season ahead.

The Paddlesport Touring Leader supports you to lead fun, safe and enjoyable mixed craft trips, based on your group’s needs and aspirations. There are direct entry opportunities and optional training so you can design your own learning journey. Find out more about becoming a Paddlesport Touring Leader here.

Photos by Outdoor Explore.


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