Who we are
Blackwater Valley Canoe Club was founded in 1986, with our home base being at Aldershot Lido. We are a friendly and community centric canoe club, who are affiliated with British Canoeing and have achieved their Club Mark certification. We welcome all individuals and families of any skill level; whether you have never paddled before or have years of experience we will have something to offer you. Our club is run entirely by a dedicated team of volunteers who all share a passion for paddle sports.
Our club is lucky to have many British Canoeing qualified coaches with experience in a wide range of disciplines. We have also built up an extensive collection different club boats, ranging from recreational kayaks & sit-on tops, to open canoes, playboats, whitewater kayaks, Stand Up Paddleboards, slalom boats, and even a few more specialised craft such as wildwater racers and sprint boats. This allows us to offer our members a very diverse paddling experience. See the what we do section for more information.
In addition the club has a dedicated Canoe Polo section who regularly compete in leagues and standalone tournaments. They train year-round and welcome paddlers of all ages with or without previous polo experience (basic kayak competence is required, but BVCC can offer you the required training to get to this standard).
What we do
The general section of the club run weekly paddling sessions throughout the year where participants of any experience level or discipline can practice their skills, develop their paddling, and in general just have a good time. Our coaches can also help participants towards obtaining British Canoeing Paddle Awards where this is desired. The Polo section of the club run multiple training sessions each week (you can attend as frequently as you want) and regularly compete in leagues / tournaments.
In addition to our regular sessions the club also arranges frequent paddling trips (usually at least one a month). These can vary from gentle touring trips drown local waterways, to moving water taster sessions, Whitewater, and even trips abroad to destinations such as France and Slovenia. Where there is enough interest we also facilitate training courses (e.g. Foundation Safety Rescue Training, Whitewater Safety & Rescue Training, etc.) with either internal or external providers. The club also supports it’s volunteers in working towards coaching and leadership qualifications.
The club tries to run activities covering a wide a range of disciplines, and we encourage our members to explore the many different types of paddle sports available.
Click the images below to learn more about some of the club’s main paddling activities.
Where we paddle
We run our weekly club sessions at different locations throughout the year, in order to accommodate for venue availability and the typical weather / light conditions. In addition to our weekly sessions we also run regular trips throughout the year; our trips our a mixture of local and further afield destinations, and cover a range of disciplines.
You can lean more about our regular paddling locations below.
Aldershot Lido has been the home of Blackwater Valley Canoe Club for our entire 35 year history; and is where we run our weekly club sessions throughout the Summer season (typically late May to early September).
The Lido is a truly unique paddling venue consisting of a 3,600 m2 outdoor swimming pool, filled with 1.5 million gallons of clean water. It provides the perfect environment for beginners and experienced paddlers alike to practice their skills, gain confidence, and of course have fun.
If you are looking to get into the world of paddle sports then the Lido is the perfect location for you. The calm water is idea for those starting out, and being a clean swimming pool with changing facilities being available onsite falling out of your boat / off your paddleboard is not nearly as unpleasant as it would be on canals or rivers. The variable depth and accessible pool-sides also allow our instructors to select the most appropriate style of coaching; be that on the water with you, from the bank, or even stood in the water.
The Lido also makes an idea venue for more experienced paddlers. You can practice your rolling (or learn to roll in the first place) in clean water, with instructors stood in the water ready to help if needed. Or you can always try a bit of flatwater freestyle, or just make use of the large open space to take your new boat out for a spin. All with easy access to changing rooms afterwards.
The Lido is also home to the clubs extensive collection of boats. These range from sit on tops to open canoes, touring kayaks, whitewater boats, sea kayaks, slalom boats, Stand-Up Paddleboards, and more. We even have a few more specialised boats such as wild water racers and sprint boats. All our craft are available for participants to use at our Lido sessions, and we encourage members to explore the different type of craft available (even if just for a bit of fun).
With Aldershot Lido closed over winter, the weather outside typically being fairly unpleasant, and it getting darker earlier; we usually move our weekly paddling session to an indoor pool for the winter season. Our weekly sessions typically move to the swimming pool at Yateley Manor School from around October to March each year.
The pool at Yateley Manor allows for around 10 participants in the water at any one time, plus coaches (typically stood in the water). Where there is sufficient demand we can run a second session each night. Our sessions at the pool tend to be focussed around improving specific skills such as rolling, support strokes, flatwater freestyle, etc. There are also paddling related fun & games for the kids. Much like the Lido, if you have never paddled before our pool sessions can be a great place to start, with the added benefit that the water is nice and warm.
Likewise the polo section of the club also move their training sessions indoors over winter. Our winter Polo sessions typically take place at the Whitehill & Bordon Leisure Centre swimming pool (having previously taken place at Alton Leisure Centre).
In addition to our weekly sessions at Yateley Manor (for general) and Alton Leisure centre (for polo) the club also looks into other indoor pool venues for “one-off” sessions. In recent years we have run sessions at the far larger Aldershot Garrison Sports Centre swimming pool. These session are shared between the general and polo sides of the club and allow a large number of club members to paddle together. Where we have spare capacity we also invite other local kayak clubs to join us.
Being based in Aldershot we are lucky to have a great local waterway in the form of the Basingstoke Canal. We typically run a few weekly sessions on the canal in the autumn (mid September to early October) and a larger number in the spring (usually from the end of March to late May). Our usual launch points are either the Basingstoke Canal Centre in Mytchett, Ash Lock in Aldershot, or Runways End in Aldershot. And of course we are always open to suggestions for other local launching points.
Our canal sessions typically take the form of a leisurely / social paddle along the canal. Though we can also run skills sessions, general coaching, or paddling fun & games for children (and any adults who want to join in!), depending on the make-up & desires of the group each week.
The Basingstoke Canal provides us with a venue to run longer distance paddling sessions than those achievable in the Lido or indoor pool. The canal is a pleasant place to paddle with interesting things to see, and teeming with wildlife. A gentle evening paddle with likeminded kayakers / canoeists can be a very enjoyable experience.
Hawley Lake is the home of the club’s Canoe polo section, where our weekly training sessions take place for most of the year. There is an area of the lake set-up with polo goals, we also have on-site storage for our polo equipment.
The Club generally aims to run at least one official club trip a month with members welcome to arrange their own “peer trips” whenever they like on top of that. When planning our trips for each year we try to ensure we cater for as wide a range of disciplines and experience levels as possible; whatever your paddling interests, and however long you have been paddling, we hope to have at least one trip which interests you.
Our trips can range from local waterways, to anywhere in the UK, and even destinations abroad with the club having paddled in France and Slovenia in recent years.
You can see a selection of photos from our club trips below.