Book online now!

Introduction to Canoeing

Canoeing is a great activity for whatever mood you are in, whether you are looking for an action packed adventure down on white water or a peaceful trip on the local Pontsticill Reservoir. In our open canoes you can work solo, in pairs or in small groups of three to get the canoe moving in the direction you wish, a great team-building activity! Open canoes are great for exploring the local area, whether it's a half day trip or multi day carrying all the camping kit needed for an overnight expedition,

Open Canoes were originally designed by North American Indians and Canadians, who used open canoes for exploring. Their traditional canoes were made out of Birch bark, which made them lightweight and easy to transport.

Our British Canoe qualified instructors can cater for beginners to the most advanced of paddlers.  We offer everything from taster sessions to National Governing Body Star Awards for those looking to progress further.  


Our flat water taster sessions are a great way of having a go at canoeing and seeing if it’s the activity for you. Each session can be done as a half or full day activity, depending on what you are looking for and on a full day a journey could be undertaken. These taster sessions offer a great way of learning the art of canoeing and having fun at the same time and we have plenty of venues to choose from, including our local Pontsticill Reservoir or the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal.

At the start of the day the group will learn how to maneuver their canoe confidently and independently. Throughout the session we will teach a variety of skills through different means, including games based learning, showing you how to use different types of skills to get your canoe where you want, all while having tremendous fun!

Each session is tailored to the needs of the group, so if it’s a wet and fun splashing session that you desire, let us know and we will ensure you leave thoroughly soaked! Likewise, if you would like a relatively dry session we will do our best to keep you out of the water (although there is alway a chance you may fall in!).

This course is designed for people who have had experience of canoeing before and are looking to develop their skills whilst experiencing some more challenging water. We usually explore some of our local moving water rivers, such as the Taff, Usk, and Wye.  

In each session you will learn how to safety canoe down beautiful rivers, conquer some rapids and discover how to surf waves in your canoe.

This course can be delivered to solo or tandem canoes, depending on what you would like to achieve. We are always happy to tailor our activities around you so just let us know what it is that you are looking for!

This activity is all about getting up close and personal with some of our local rapids and white water sections and as such is one of our most popular choices! In each session we look at running rivers with main features to negotiate (up to grade two), ensuring that your skills and your nerve is put to the test.

This course is ideal for those who already have experience of running rivers and want a progressive, fun-filled session on improving their  skills, such as leader, or for those who are simply looking to push their grade with the support of a qualified instructor. 

Our white water sessions can be done solo or tandem depending on what you prefer. 

During our traditional skills courses you can expect to learn a host of new strokes and discover new ways to move your canoe without your paddle, including Poling and Snubbing. 

Traditional paddle strokes we look at include:

  • Improving your J Stroke, making sure that it is efficient and technically correct
  • Knifed J Stroke, a slight modification on the original J Stroke, which allows you to effectively steer the canoe without losing momentum
  • Indian Stroke, originally a silent means of canoeing used to sneak up on wildlife
  • Running Pry, a technique which glides the canoe sideways whilst still moving it forwards
  • Lots more skills!

Traditional ways of moving the canoe that we learn include:

  • Poling, standing up in a braced position in the canoe using a 16ft pole to push up river, progressing onto rapids
  • Snubbing, standing up in a braced position in the canoe using a 16ft pole to control the canoe and get it moving down the river and progressing down rapids
  • Lining and tracking, this is traditionally used for loaded canoes, lining the boat down the river to avoid a hazard or to avoid swamping the canoe. Tracking is the same skill but controlling the canoe going down river
  • Canoe sailing and improved canoe sailing, using the wind to propell the canoe down wind, while using the paddle as a rudder to control the direction. 

For more information on these sessions and some of the skills we cover please get in touch.

Here at Dolygaer we have a huge range and variety of places to go Canoeing within easy travelling distance, meaning no matter how many times you get out there you can always see something new.

On our doorstep we have the beautiful Pontsticill Reservoir, where you can experience some of the most relaxing and serene moments you could wish for on the water. With stunning views of the surrounding mountains and countryside, this really is a great way to see the local area. 

We have a number of rivers in the area that all have different characteristics. We are very close to the River Taff, which is great to explore by Canoe, while for those looking for full or multi-day trips, we have the beautiful River Wye, which is a fantastic and varied excursion. If you are looking for more adventure still we have the fast flowing waters of the River Usk, which holds a range of rapids between grade 2 - 4.

Finally you can also explore the beautiful 200 year old Brecon to Monmouthshire Canal by Canoe, a varied journey where you travel over aqueducts and pasted fantastic views of the central Brecon Beacons mountains.

Book your Canoeing Adventure Today

Our Instructors

Mike Smith - Mike has been canoeing and kayaking ever since his school days and loves spending time out on the water. He has his Level 3 and 5 Star Advanced Water Endorsement (AWE) training and delivers the majority of our water-based courses. 

Lisa Boore - Lisa is a Level 2 canoe coach who has been delivering water-based activity training for ten years, on a variety of different rivers, lakes and seas. Lisa's canoeing experiences have mostly taken place in Wales and England, with a couple of rivers in France. 

Our Equipment

Most of our canoes are fitted out with kneeling thwarts which are ideal for solo canoeing, while all of our canoes have floatation in the stern and bow. We have a variety of different sizes of canoe paddle to suit everyone. 

We provide you with the following equipment:

  • Helmet
  • Wetsuit, we have a variety of sizes available, ranging from 8 years old to XXL
  • Cag, a waterproof and windproof top which will keep the wind off your body and help to keep you warmer
  • Buoyancy aid, a floatation device which helps you to float in the water with no effort. 

Book Online

If you would like to book a Canoeing session with us online, please click on the button below!



Q: What’s the difference between Kayaking and Canoeing?

A: Both sports have similarities but the primary difference is that Kayaking involves using a paddle that has a blade at both ends. Kayakers also sit on a low seat with their legs extended as opposed to the raised seats common to Canoes.

Q: What do I need to wear?

A; A swim costume or underwear under the wetsuit, a pair of trainers with a good sole on and a pair of shorts to wear over the top of the wetsuit. All other kit is provided. In summer months, shorts and a t-shirt may be the best for canoeing as you don't get too hot.

Q: What do we need to bring?

A: Change of clothes, towel, packed lunch and a drink.


Q: Can I participant in Canoeing if I cannot swim?

A: Yes, let your instructor know and they will give you some advice of what to do.

Q: Will I get wet?

A: Probably, though we try our best to keep those that don't want to get wet dry. We can’t always manage this though and occasionally the canoes may capsize, or the more likely reason for getting wet is slipping over at the end of session getting out of the canoe. For those who want to get wet, we will find suitable time towards the end of the sessions to allow this.


Can't find what you're looking for?

Contact us today on: 01685 848 309

Contact Us

Business Hours

Opening Days:

  • Monday   09:00 - 17:00
  • Tuesday   09:00 - 17:00
  • Wednesday   09:00 - 17:00
  • Thursday   09:00 - 17:00
  • Friday   09:00 - 17:00
  • Saturday   09:00 - 17:00
  • Sunday   09:00 - 17:00

About Us

Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer is an activity centre based in the south of the Brecon Beacons, just a 15 minute drive from Merthyr Tydfil. We offer a fantastic range of activities suitable for all ages and abilities


Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer Pontsticill Merthyr Tydfil CF48 2UR