Skip navigation.
Home

Guide to River Trips

Terms of Reference / Trips Policy

Contents
1. Introduction
2. EKC River Trip levels
a. Beginner (Grade 1/2)
b. Improver (Grade 2/3)
c. Intermediate (Grade 3/4)
d. Advanced (Grade 4/5)
e. Gradings for Open Canoe trips

3. Other EKC event environments
4. Event Types

a. Sanctioned Club Trips
b. A Sanctioned Coached Event
c. Peer Paddling

5. Trip leaders – Competency requirements and approval process
6. EKC Club Trips – Best Practice for Leaders
7. General information for event participants

1. Introduction
Edinburgh Kayak Club is comprised of a group of like-minded individuals who have come together to enjoy the varied water environments of Scotland.
The Club organises a number of events on rivers, seas, reservoirs and lochs throughout the year.
There are two distinct types of club event:
A sanctioned ‘Club Trip’
A sanctioned Coached Event

Individual members may also advertise a ‘Peer Paddle’.

Events may take place in a variety of environments and are graded according to the severity / level of difficulty of the trip.

2. EKC River Trip Levels

EKC sanctioned Club Trips are publicized with one of the following levels - as with river grades these are for guidance only, Edinburgh Kayak Club will do its best to adhere to the levels below but changes at the last moment due to environmental concerns are common. As such, trips cannot be guaranteed to run as advertised, and this may result in cancellation, relocation, or a change in grade which could preclude some paddlers attending. Edinburgh Kayak Club will endeavour to run its activities in as safe a manner as possible, however participation in the sport of Canoeing/Kayaking can be a dangerous activity with risk of injury. It should be understood that participation could lead to injury or in severe cases, even death.

a) Beginner (Grade 1/2)

Trips in this category are for those that are new to river kayaking. Those new to the sport should do several trips in this category before progressing.
The rivers on which these trips will take place tend to be fairly flat with some small easy rapids. This type of river tends to be relatively gentle with plenty of time to react.
There may be a harder rapid on the river, but this will be easy to spot and get out above; depending on the leader’s and your own feelings, experience and confidence you can either carry your boat around it on land (portage), or with the leader’s assistance, you can inspect it and consider whether to run it or not.
At this level the river leader is very much in charge of the group, they will be leading on the river and it is normally expected that they will provide advice and assistance on basic paddling skills and how to read the river.
It should be noted that even once you are well past being a novice paddler, it is still useful to go on these trips to improve your ability to lead, back mark and assist with rescues in an easy environment. Demonstrating skills on the river helps you to remember and perform them better when they are needed later in your paddling life i.e. when you are paddling something harder.

b) Improver (Grade 2(3) and 2/3)
These trips are for those who have been on a few beginner trips and want to progress to something slightly more difficult. Depending on conditions, trips in this category may take place on the same rivers as beginner trips, but at higher water levels or with more time allowed to play in specific features. Other rivers used will have fewer flat sections and more continuous small rapids with a few slightly more difficult rapids.
These trips will still largely be leader/experienced paddler led, but will have more input from the less experienced paddlers as they learn more and acquire the ability to pick their own lines and start to develop leadership skills.
Before you progress on from this category to paddling intermediate rivers you should have developed a good upright paddling posture, the ability to pick your own line down a rapid of this standard, and be able to stay upright with the use of adaptive support strokes as needed. You should also have begun to develop a working river roll.

c) Intermediate (Grade 3 and 3(4))
These trips are for those that are confident and capable running rivers at the improver standard, have a working river roll and want to try paddling more challenging water. There are a huge variety of rivers within this category, but in general the rivers will have fairly continuous stretches of what were considered difficult rapids in the improver category. In addition there will normally be at least one harder rapid, the running of which will necessitate taking the correct line, which may not be immediately obvious. Portaging the more difficult rapids is normally, but not always, straightforward. Swimming down some of these rapids is not pleasant and there is a risk of injury.
At this level the more experienced paddlers will be happy to offer guidance on best line(s), may give tips on how to execute moves, and if needed provide safety cover. However, at this level, there is a greater emphasis on picking your own lines and learning how to tackle the river.
As you progress in this category, there will be more opportunities for you to develop your leadership, river reading abilities and river awareness.

d) Advanced (Grade 4 and above)
Trips at this level can have serious consequences and therefore should only be attempted once you have paddled plenty of intermediate rivers and can run them with relative ease.
For this level of water you must have good river reading/running skills, a bombproof roll, be mentally up for the challenge and be able to nail your lines.
Although there will still be some aspect of leadership on these trips, it is down to the individual to make their own decisions on what to run, while generally the other paddlers will set up safety.

e) Gradings for Open Canoe trips
For trips involving traditional canoes, river grades are typically reduced in comparison to those for the equivalent WW kayak trips. Both kayaks and canoes may attend trips together, subject to the agreement of the trip leader.

a. Open Canoe Beginner (Grade 1)
b. Open Canoe Improver (Grade 1/2)
c. Open Canoe Intermediate (Grade 3)
d. Open Canoe Advanced (Grade 3/4)

Trip gradings for specialized WW canoes are identical to those for WW kayaks.

3. Other EKC event environments
Occasionally, EKC may offer events other than river trips – these may encompass surf, inland water, tidal water/sea. These will be led by appropriately skilled paddlers, who will vet the suitability of attendees, and are subject to approval by the Coaching and Leadership Group.
Typically a Beginner flat-water event would take place on Very Sheltered Water (e.g. Musselburgh Lagoon); suitably able paddlers may then move on to the Sheltered Inland Water environment and beyond.
A Beginner surf event would typically take place in surf of up to 1 foot; suitably able paddlers could then progress to the Moderate Surf environment and beyond.
A full list of event environments is beyond the scope of this document and the reader is referred to the British Canoeing Terms of Reference http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/media/pdf/BCU%20TERMS%20OF%20REFERENCE%20V4-1.pdf

4. Event types
a) Sanctioned Club Trips
A sanctioned club trip will adhere to the following:
• Be advertised and coordinated through the Edinburgh Kayak Club ‘Trips Coordinator’.
• Be advertised with a clear ‘Ability Grading’ from the aforementioned list.
• Only fully ‘paid up’ members of EKC may attend a ‘club trip’.
• Be lead by an Edinburgh Kayak Club sanctioned ‘Leader’. The Leader will likely, though not necessarily, have a British Canoeing leadership qualification.
• The Leader will hold the British Canoeing White Water Safety and Rescue qualification (or higher) for all trip gradings that involve inland moving water.
• The Leader will hold a current 2-day (16hr) First Aid Certificate recognized by EKC or ensure another member attending does so.
• The Leader may be (though not necessarily) a British Canoeing qualified coach. Edinburgh Kayak Club only endorses the UKCC and ‘old BCU’ coaching qualifications. The Leader should only offer coaching if they are qualified to do so and work strictly within the defined terms of reference according to their level.
• The Leader will be sanctioned to a certain river grading by Edinburgh Kayak Club Sub-group. A Leader may not lead in an environment beyond their sanctioned grade.
• The ‘Leader’ will determine the maximum number of paddlers on the trip. Edinburgh Kayak Club and/or the Trip Leader reserve the right to ‘close‘ the trip to control the number of people on the river. If there are more sanctioned leaders or ‘experienced paddlers’ attending then more paddlers may participate but overall control of the group should be retained by one person.
• The minimum number of paddlers on a sanctioned Club Trip will be 3 including the Leader.
• The decision whether to run a river remains with the individual adult and the Leader should ideally only give suggestions as to whether a person has the required abilities HOWEVER The Leader has the authority to stop a person attending a trip or running a specific feature if they feel in doing so it will endanger others or there is a lack of appropriate safety resources.
• Some Edinburgh Kayak Club trips may be suitable for ‘children’ or families. EKC does not offer Child Specific Trips and does not retain responsibility for children beyond our statutory requirements. Children (up to the age of 16) MUST be accompanied at all times on the river by a parent/guardian or nominated responsible adult at a ration of 1 adult to 2 children. The responsible parent/guardian/adult should not also be the designated trip Leader. The adult in coordination with the trip leader should be capable of looking after the safety of the Child at all times.
• In Scottish Law an adult is defined as a person over the age of 16. Young people of ages 16 and 17 can attend trips unaccompanied however must bring along a completed parental consent form which should be given to the trip Leader at the meeting point. We suggest that they reclaim the form at the end of the day to bring on subsequent trips, the club does not store these forms (other than for the pool) and the Leader should destroy any forms he/she has been left with.
• The Edinburgh Kayak Child Protection Policy will be strictly adhered to and applies to all people under the age of 18 and those classified as ‘Vulnerable Adults’.
• Edinburgh Kayak Club trips should be operated using the ‘Leave no Trace’ ethic. For more information on Leave No Trace please visit https://lnt.org
Joint trips with other Clubs
It is possible that trips may be run in coordination with other clubs.
EKC recommends that there is an overall Leader nominated for the whole group HOWEVER it is expected that each club will be fully capable/responsible for their own part of the group i.e. have a suitably qualified/experienced leader. All clubs should operate within their own Terms of Reference and be together for social purposes only.

b) Sanctioned Coached Events
Edinburgh Kayak Club may offer specific coached sessions.
• In normal circumstances this may include time at an indoor pool, or a very sheltered water environment such as a pond or small lake/loch. Less frequently we may offer fully coached sessions on moving water.
• Edinburgh Kayak Club only endorses the UKCC and ‘old BCU’ coaching qualifications. These are presented and examined by British Canoeing to national standards.
• It is expected that coaches will only operate within the environment and at ratio’s as defined by the level of their award from UKCC/BCU. These are not defined or set by EKC and cannot be overruled by EKC.
• The coaching terms of reference can be found at http://canoescotland.org/sites/default/files/resources/documents/Courses%20%26amp%3B%20Training/BCU%20TERMS%20OF%20REFERENCE%20V4-1.pdf
• The decision whether to participate in a Coached event remains with the individual adult and the Coach should ideally only give suggestions as to whether a person has the required abilities HOWEVER the Coach has the authority to stop a person attending an event if they feel in doing so it will endanger others or there is a lack of appropriate safety resources.
• Only fully ‘paid up’ members may attend a ‘Coached Event’. New paddlers may attend a maximum of 2 taster sessions before paying for full membership in order to continue to access the Coached Event.
• Currently Edinburgh Kayak Club operates ‘pool sessions’ at Gracemount Leisure Centre operated by Edinburgh Leisure (EL).For pool sessions EKC and EL require that EKC provide at least one ‘duty coach’ who is qualified at least to UKCC Level 1. The UKCC level 1 coach should spend some time first observing more qualified coaches presenting a basic syllabus for beginners in the pool before volunteering themselves for the ‘duty coach roster’. For further specific guidance for coaches in pools please visit http://canoescotland.org/sites/default/files/resources/documents/Courses%20%26amp%3B%20Training/BCU%20The%20Canoeist%20and%20the%20Swimming%20Pool%20V2-2.pdf
• Currently Edinburgh Kayak Club operates ‘lagoons sessions’ at Musselburgh Lagoons on a weekly basis during summer months. EKC will provide one qualified ‘duty’ coach for these events. Whilst the Lagoons is a very Sheltered Water environment, participation is not without risk. Participants should be aware that there is no ‘lifeguarding’ service at these events; participants are responsible for their own safety and that of those around them. The venue is a public facility and the space should be shared equally with all park users.
• Some Edinburgh Kayak Club coaching events may be suitable for ‘children’ or families. EKC does not offer ‘child specific’ coaching events and does not retain responsibility for children beyond our statutory requirements. Children (up to the age of 16) MUST be accompanied at all times on the waterside (or on the water if the session is likely to move out of hearing range of the responsible adult) by a parent/guardian or nominated responsible adult at a ration of 1 adult to 3 children. The responsible parent/guardian/adult should not also be the coach. The adult in coordination with the Coach should be capable of looking after the safety of the Child at all times.
• In Scottish Law an adult is defined as a person over the age of 16. Young people of ages 16 and 17 can attend coaching sessions unaccompanied however must bring along a completed parental consent form which should be given to the Coach before commencing the session. We suggest that they reclaim the form at the end of the day to bring on subsequent events, the club does not store these forms (other than for the pool) and the Coach should destroy any forms he/she has been left with.
• The Edinburgh Kayak Child Protection Policy will be strictly adhered to and applies to all people under the age of 18 and those classified as ‘Vulnerable Adults’.
• Edinburgh Kayak Club coaching events should be operated using the ‘Leave no Trace’ ethic. For more information on Leave No Trace please visit https://lnt.org

c) Peer Paddling
Members may use the club as a forum to advertise opportunities for people to run rivers together. In the event that these are not Sanctioned Club Trips, they shall be termed ‘peer paddling’ and the following guidelines apply:
• All adverts should be headed with the term ‘Peer Paddle’.
• The person suggesting the trip shall be referred to as the trip ‘Organiser’.
• Peer paddling can be suggested/organized/attended by any adult. The EKC Trips Coordinator will not coordinate it.
• The decision whether to participate in a Peer Paddle remains at all times with the individual adult.
• Not all of those attending may be full club members.
• Peer Paddling does not necessarily have a sanctioned club Leader. EKC suggest it is good practice to have a nominated leader on the river.
• Peer Paddling will not necessarily have a person in attendance with suitable rescue and first aid certificates. EKC suggest it is good practice to have at least 1 paddler with an appropriate rescue qualification for the grading.
• EKC suggests that it is good practice to adhere to the EKC Child Protection Policy at all times.
• EKC suggest it is good practice to adhere to the ‘Leave no Trace’ ethic at all times.
• Peer Paddling will likely not be covered by the Edinburgh Kayak Club / British Canoeing Public Liability insurance.

5. Trip leaders – Competency requirements and approval process
Edinburgh Kayak Club encourages paddlers to develop their leadership skills and attain suitable qualifications and experience to allow them to lead Club Trips.
The EKC Leadership sign-off sub group will approve EKC Club Trip leaders. Approval will be granted on the grounds of experience and/or formal qualifications, as well as consent to abide by all EKC policies and procedures.
Potential new leaders may be asked to lead one or more trips under the supervision of a currently sanctioned club leader as a demonstration of their suitability. In the event that an individual is not deemed suitable, then the Coaching Officer (or other nominated club representative) should be prepared to offer feedback to the individual, ideally on a one-to-one basis, and offer further mentoring or development opportunities if appropriate.
Trip Leaders must be able to demonstrate a level of competency suitable for the grade of trip and the type of craft they propose to lead. Possession of a relevant qualification will help the sub-group to assess the suitability of a leader, however applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The BCU 4* Leader Syllabus describes the skills standard necessary to start leading - as minimum, potential leaders require the following skills:
• Good technical (paddling) skills
• Good interpersonal skills
• Proficiency in leadership techniques e.g. CLAP
• Rapid and effective risk-assessment and decision making ability on and off the water
• Strong rescue skills
• Familiarity with the type of venue being paddled, if not the specific location
• Appropriate navigation skills
• Competence in First-Aid

Approved leaders are listed on the EKC Trip Leaders list.
The sub group can impose limitations and restrictions on a leader’s remit in accordance with their skill level. The Sub-group reserves the right to request that Leader applicants complete a PVG disclosure. The Sub-group reserves the right to change the remit of a leader, or to remove the leader from the list of approved leaders at any time. The Sub-group’s decision is final.
Edinburgh Kayak Club recognizes that there may be situations where the skill level of the club officials may not be appropriate to make assessment of leadership competency especially at higher river grades. Where this is the case the club will call upon the guidance of the Scottish Canoe Association Regional Coaching Officer or other suitably qualified individuals.