ESSA Water Activities Centre
Registered Charity No: 1025713

Kayaking & Canoeing

Taster Sessions

Come and try kayaking and canoeing! If you're part of a group, see our Groups page to see what you can achieve.


You've decided that kayaking and canoeing is for you. Work your way through the BCU courses.

Taster Sessions

General information

We have a range of both kayaks and canoes.

Being beside the river allows us to go for expeditions along the River Lea and paddle the Broxbourne Loop, situated directly behind ESSA.

We run a paddling group throughout the summer on Monday evenings and welcome new paddlers of any experience. 

What will you learn?

Taster Session content

Click here to find the taster session plan

Course content - see below.

Session recommendations

Over 8 years old -
Evening, full day or part of a multi-activity day.

We don't currently have a regular volunteer BCU coach so are unable to offer this as easily as other activities. If you have a qualified BCU coach, they will be able take paddlers on the water.
If you haven't got access to qualified paddlers, we can offer other paddling activities.

Beginner Courses

BCU Star courses are 1 or 2 days (or equivalent sessions). All BCU Star courses start at age 14+.

To make the most of our courses, ensure you are confident with the skills of one course before moving on to the next course. If you're a bit rusty, you may be asked to return for an extra day of training before being fully signed off.

Kayaking and Canoeing are sports which gets better with practice, and you should try to get out on the water between courses whenever you can. Practice makes perfect!

BCU One Star

A flat water award that demonstrates an individual has basic boat control and foundation skills in both a Kayak and Canoe.

Course Content

Click here to find the syllabus

BCU Two Star

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 into how the paddle, boat and water interact.

Course Content

Click here to find the syllabus

BCU Foundation Safety and Rescue Training (FSRT)

This training course is intended for all paddlers, coaches and volunteers irrespective of craft or discipline choice, and is available in either bank-based or boat-based option.

It provides training on key skills needed to operate safely and deal with common emergencies in a sheltered water environment. These skills then form the foundations for safety and rescue throughout British Canoeing awards.

Course Content

Click here to find the syllabus

BCU Three Star

Successful performance at this 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, Surf, Canoe, WW Kayak, FW 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.