Canoeing & Kayaking

Table of Contents

    General Information

    Tim is a UKCC Level 2 Paddlesports Coach, BCU Level 3 Inland Kayak Coach and holds British Canoe Union 4 star awards in inland kayak, open canoe and sea kayak. We offer instruction and open canoe and kayak journeys mainly on the Afon Dwyryd, where there is good access. We can also make journeys on the Afon Glaslyn between Aberglaslyn gorge (near Beddgelert) and the Glaslyn Osprey Centre. Alternatively you can sign up to one of our “Snowdonia Canoe Journeys and Campfire food” on AirBnB (search in AirBnB Experiences for ‘Snowdonia Canoe’) and you will find us there. Contact us to discuss any specific requirements or requests.

    Safety and Techniques

    Tim is a UKCC Level 2 Paddlesports Coach, BCU Level 3 Inland Kayak Coach and holds British Canoe Union 4 star awards in inland kayak, open canoe and sea kayak. We have 6 Pyrannah 15′ and 17′ open canoes which are normally paddled tandem (2 people seated, one on the front and one in the rear). The paddler in front is responsible for steering and you will learn ow to do this using the J-stroke or Stern Rudder. The paddler at the front can help with steering, but generally just provides the forward propulsion.

    Paddling tandem on the Afon Dwyryd estuary with Cnicht in the background

    We always wear a buoyancy aid (provided) – as the name suggests this is an ‘aid’ and not a life jacket (which is generally believed to be too bulky and cumbersome for canoeing). A buoyancy aid with help you to float if the canoe should capsize, though most parts of the rivers we paddle are shallow enough to stand up in, there are parts where you might need to swim to the side or you will be assisted by your guide to the bank. In certain circumstances, and with some training, you can get back into the canoe. In the event that it is just possible that you could capsize doing this activity, we recommend that you bring a spare set of clothes and a towel. We provide a dry bag to keep these and your valuables in while in the canoe. As we are paddling on Grade 1 slow moving water and not rapids, we don’t usually wear helmets. When you become confident at paddling tandem, you can try paddling a canoe solo.

    Paddling a canoe solo near the Bryn Mawr access point on Afon Dwyryd
    Solo paddling a canoe on the Afon Dwyrd just upstream from Pont Briwet

    Other techniques we teach are canoe poling and canoe sailing.

    Canoe poling on the Afon Dwyryd
    Canoe sailing using a tarpaulin

    Equipment You Need

    • Canoe paddle (provided)
    • Buoyancy Aid (provided)
    • Dry bag (provided)
    • Waterproof jacket (we can provide if you don’t have them)
    • Waterproof over trousers if wet (we can provide if you don’t have them)
    • Warm hat or sun hat
    • Sunglasses, sun creme
    • Spare set of clothes and towel (in case you capsize)
    • Sensible footwear – no heels. Trainers/sandals with straps are good. Something with a flat sole which provides some grip and won’t fall off your foot (eg flip flops are not ideal).
    • Camera (this can be stored in a dry bag and taken out when you need it and feel confident!)
    • Your medication (if you need anything)
    • Snacks, lunch and hot drink in a flask (unless this is provided on the course you booked)

    Afon Dwyryd Canoe Journey

    The access points for the Afon Dwyryd are 2-3 km from Coed Obry. Journeys can be carried out departing: (1) from Pont Briwet (GR 619 382) by starting around 1-2 hours before High Water. If you wish to go all the way to the Bridge at the Oakley Hotel (where the A487 crosses the river, at GR 656 608) it’s around 7 km so you’d need 1-2 hours depending on your speed, and the same to get back (14 km return). (2) there is also a good access point at Bryn Mawr (from a layby on the south side of the A487 at GR 649 601) from where you can go upstream and/or downstream. You only need to carry the canoe 15m to get from the lay-by to the river here. (3) there is another good access point 100m west of the Oakley Hotel where you park in the layby on the south side of the A487 at GR 658 605 and carry your canoe 50m over a style to launch from a fairly steep bank. (4) in calm weather it’s possible to paddle down the estuary from Pont Briwet towards Portmeiron and to get out at Borth-y-Guest (7km), but as this is a linear trip you would need a pick-up at Borth y Guest OR wait until the tide turns to paddle back upstream on the flooding tide. If you wish to guide yourself you can hire our canoes and we can arrange drop-off and pick-up if you wish.

    Click here for tide tables.

    Journey return distance 15km; time 3-4 hours. A 7km return journey can be made by access of egress from Bryn Mawr (GR 644 440).

    Afon Glaslyn Canoe Journey

    We also offer canoe journey on the nearby lower Afon Glaslyn from just downstream of Beddgelert (access below the Afon Glaslyn Gorge) to the Glaslyn Osprey Centre, a distance of 4km.

    The Afon Glaslyn Canoe journey

    Drone Videos of Canoeing: Afon Dwyryd

    Tandem paddling the canoe
    Poling the canoe
    Solo paddling the canoe
    Sailing canoes

    Free Guide Book: The River & Waterway Environment for Small Boat Users by Tim Stott (free PDF, 297pp to download click below, 2 parts: Part 1 is 5MB; Part 2 is MB)

    Download Part 1 (5MB) Download Part 2 (6MB)

    Useful Video Links

    Forward Paddling Canoes by Ray Goodwin
    Mastering the J-stroke by Ray Goodwin
    X-rescue and Curl Rescue in canoes by Ray Goodwin

    References & Recommended Reading

    British Canoe Union (2002) Canoe and Kayak Handbook. Bangor, Pesda Press.

    British Canoe Union (2006) Coaching Handbook. A Manual of Coaching Techniques, Advice and Guidelines for the Canoe and Kayak Coach. Bangor, Pesda Press.

    Goodwin, Ray (2016) Canoeing. Bangor, Pesda Press

    Mason, Bill (1988) Song of the Paddle: An Illustrated Guide to Wilderness Camping. Toronto, Key Porter Books Ltd.

    Customer Reviews

    5.0 (3 reviews). Rated 5.0 out of 5 from 3 reviews.

    Julie (May 2021): We had a great day canoeing with Tim from Snowdonia Outdoors. As first time canoeists we were well looked after and felt very safe. We had brilliant weather and saw an Osprey. Tim cooked for when we stopped for lunch and was good company. We learned some canoeing strokes and it was fun using a sail on some of the return journey up river. Overall a fun day out on the water, we really enjoyed it !

    Dan (May 2021): Great experience! Weather was against us but Tim was a great host and talked us through all aspects of canoeing – highly recommended and looking forward to using again when weather better!

    William (October 2020): 100% personable. 100% hospitable. For the price I paid I got everything I wanted. Tim is well experienced and an all round great guy. Feel very privileged to have stumbled across, what was to my surprise, a new business for Tim and his family. I have no doubt it will continue to please others as much as it pleased me. Felt safe the entire time and in capable hands. The views and the experience was fantastic as well as the hospitality I received on arrival. 5 stars!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: How likely is it for the canoe to tip ?

    A: For people who have not been in a canoe before, we normally start off by rafting two canoes together (as seen in one of the photos), so that it’s not possible for the canoes to capsize. Once clients become comfortable and more confident, we can easily remove the connecting wooden spar which is fixed with velcro straps.

    Q: What should I wear/bring ? Do I need spare clothes ?

    A: There is an equipment list on this page (above). We recommend that you bring a towel and spare set of clothes just in case you somehow end up in the water. We provide one large 60L dry bag per canoe so that you can carry your spare clothes and valuables with you in the canoe. We carry an emergency shelter so that you can get dry quickly and change on the river bank or back at the van.

    Q: What if someone gets ill or there is some kind of emergency ?

    A: Your guide is a qualified First Aider and carries a first aid kit, mobile phone, emergency shelter and personal locator beacon. While on our canoe journey on the Afon Dwyryd we are always very close to a road and never far from help. We ask all members of the party to act responsibly and to help in an emergency if/where they can.

    Q: What happens for lunch ?

    A: Normally the course/experience you have booked requires you to bring your own lunch. We moor up the canoes and get out onto the river bank. If it’s wet or windy we set up a shelter using canoes, paddles and a tarp (see photo above). Your guide, Tim, will normally make tea/coffee for the group using a gas camping stove.