Lizzie Harrington

Canoe - Kayak - Bushcraft

About Lizzie

Provider of quality skills training and British Canoeing personal skills, leadership and coaching awards covering the North of England and North Wales.

I hold the highest canoeing coaching and leadership awards offered by British Canoeing -

Level 4/British Canoeing Coaching Diploma
British Canoeing Advanced Water Canoe Coach - White Water
British Canoeing Advanced Water Canoe Coach - Open Water
I am also a British Canoeing UKCC Level 3 White Water Kayak Coach

I offer training and assessment in all levels of British Canoeing's Canoe Coach and Leadership awards including Advanced Leader and Performance Coach.

I am a Coach Educator, providing Paddlesport Instructor, British Canoeing Coach Award Core, Discipline Specific Training and Assessment in both canoe and kayak. I am National Trainer for leadership, Fitness for Paddlesport, Coaching the Mind and Outdoor Education.

I work as a technical advisor for several businesses and third sector organisations. In addition to my outdoor qualifications I hold the following academic qualifications-

Other qualifications I hold are -
BA (hons.) (Durham University)
PGCE (Durham University)
MA Outdoor and Experiential Learning (University of Cumbria)
MSc Performance Coaching (Stirling University)
PG cert. Healthcare (Occupational Therapy) (York St. John)
Mountain Leader (Summer)
Rock Climbing Instructor
Accredited Practitioner of the Institute of Outdoor Learning

This is a broad subject area! My specialties are green wood working, primitive craft and canoe journeying. I run my own courses as well as working for several well known bushcraft schools as a guest instructor.

My motivation is the belief that everyone can get out there and have their own outdoor adventures that are meaningful to them. My goal is to support and inspire people to do exactly that!

If you do a training course with me, I will support and mentor you until you pass the award, no matter who you choose to do your assessment with. If you do an assessment with me, you can access free support and mentoring before hand and additional support and mentoring and a free re-assessment.

I do not hire out canoes, but I have friends who do!  If you need to hire a canoe, message me and I will put you in touch with some great companies who hire out canoes in North Wales or the North of England.

If you would like to talk about your goals and aspirations, or book a course for your club or organisation,  please email me -
About Lizzie


Bala - Open Water Navigation and Journey Planning Day

Not just for those preparing for a British Canoeing Leadership Assessment! Learn and develop the skills tactics and decision making to plan and navigate on open water. Reliable strategies that work in a range of conditions. Canoe or Kayak.

Learn More

British Canoeing - Canoe Leader Training with Lizzie and Lina - Lake District / Northern Dales

Official training for British Canoeing's Canoe Leader Award (Formerly 4 Star Canoe) with Lizzie Harrington and Lina Patel - Lake District / Northern Dales.

Learn More

British Canoeing - Canoe Leader Assessment - Northern Dales / Lake District

British Canoeing - Canoe Leader Assessment in the north of England, Ullswater and Tees/Eden area.

Learn More

British Canoeing - Canoe Leader Training with Lizzie and Lina in North Wales -

Official training for British Canoeing's Canoe Leader Award (Formerly 4 Star Canoe) with Lizzie Harrington and Lina Patel - North Wales

Learn More

British Canoeing Progressive Canoe Award - Dates by arrangement - message me!

A Snowdonia based weekend of developing your canoeing skills on moderate moving water moderate open water. Suitable for those who have a little experience in these environments and want to take their skills to another level.

Learn More

Dates by arrangement - British Canoeing Coach Award Assessments

I can assess British Canoeing's Coach Award in the following disciplines. Sheltered Water Canoe and/or Kayak Canoe - Open Water Canoe - White Water

Learn More

British Canoeing - Canoe Leader Training - Northern Dales & Lake District

Official training for British Canoeing's Canoe Leader Award (Formerly 4 Star Canoe) with Lizzie Harrington in the Northern Dales (Tees, Swale etc) and Ullswater.

Learn More

Canoeing Confidence - British Canoeing Progressive Canoe Award

A weekend of personal skills coaching in Snowdonia Develop your skills on moderate open water and Grade 2 (3) white water. There is the option to work towards or complete the British Canoeing Progressive Canoe Award during this weekend.

Learn More

British Canoeing Coaching The Mind - Intermediate Module - Dates by arrangement

This course examines the psychological aspects of coaching in the context of paddlesport. Richmond, North Yorkshire.

Learn More

Inspiring Confidence WW Kayaing Weekend - Dates by arrangement

Inspiring Confidence WW Kayaing Weekend - body and soul! Two days confidence building coaching - blending best technical, tactical and psychological skills in ways that works for you. You will leave with a personal action plan setting yourself up for the best paddling of your life. It is also possible to gain your British Canoeing Personal Performance Award over the weekend. Evening session looking at the science and theory behind confidence and performance and how you can use simple techniques to Yorkshire Dales/Co.Durham. £180 for the weekend including food and 2 nights of bunk barn accommodation.

Learn More

Paddlesport Instructor Award

Perfect for instructors who want to introduce others to paddling.

Learn More

British Canoeing Coaching and Leadership Conference

I am looking forward to delivering my workshops at this year's conference.

Learn More

Long Term Deveopment

Long Term Deveopment
What makes your river Flow?   

A personalised, evidence based program of personal paddling development blending mentoring, weekend meets and expeditions to meet your needs, wants and interests. A full program of confirmed dates 2020 in to 2021 with Lizzie Harrington and Lina Patel. 

  • Live and breathe canoeing for a whole year - you get 6 weekends (or more) of adventure over a year or longer so you can participate at your own pace and convenience.  You can add additional weekends to suit.
  • Targeted, personalised coaching of white water and open water skills - we will get to know you well as your skills develop and your goals and intentions evolve. 
  • Campcraft, Bushcraft, navigation and Journeying skills - as experienced and qualified Bushcraft Instructors and Mountain Leaders we are well placed to support your development to more fully enjoy your canoe as means traditional wilderness journeying.
  • Explore the country with like minded people - Network and participate in our community of paddlers.  Not just on our weekends, but on your own adventures. 
  • Ongoing mentoring and support - we will be available via phone or messenger to offer mentoring, support and guidance throughout the program.  You will also have the option of building a Personal Development Log Book in collaboration with the coaches. This will be  a valuable exercise in it’s own right, and your record of achievement and development. 
  • Optional British Canoeing Qualifications and training accreditation. Canoeing doesn’t have to involve British Canoeing at all!  However, if you want to formalise your experience, or gain qualifications we offer British Canoeing Canoe Personal Performance Awards and Leadership Training (up to and including Advanced Level).  you can do this along the way. The only additional cost will be certification and registration fees.

How it works...

  • This program is targeted and structured way to make the most of the time and money that you invest in your canoeing.  Decide which six weekends suit your needs and interests.  If you have any questions, contact Lizzie or Lina for an informal discussion. You can blend ‘progressive’,  ‘advanced’ or ‘something different’ options if this better meets your needs. You can extend your journey by adding additional courses  to suit your evolving development.   
  • We have confirmed dates in to 2021.  Additional courses will be added as details are confirmed, and on an ad-hoc basis to meet the needs of participants.  
  • You will benefit from having your own canoe and equipment.  However, it is possible to hire canoes and camping equipment if this is booked in advance.  We have a small fleet of prospector type canoes suitable for both white water and open water. 

Contact Lizzie or Lina for an informal discussion about the programme, or contact Lizzie for a course handbook and program of events. 

Lakeland Adventure

Lakeland Adventure
Lakeland Adventure

A guided and coached journey exploring lakes, islands and rivers while developing the skills and decision making to go on your own adventures. Includes two nights camping at a small, quiet lakeside site with showers. Canoe and camping equipment can be hired if needed. Suitable for people who are new to canoeing, and people who are building skills and confidence.

The Derwentwater Valley and Bassenthwaite Lake are rich in history and wildlife. It is a privilege to explore this ancient landscape by canoe. This is not intended to be a hardcore experience, but a relaxed and inspiring journey that will lead to more canoeing adventures.

We have developed this course to build knowledge and confidence We understand that everyone comes to canoeing with their own narratives and different levels of readiness. We aim to meet you where you are at, and support you to develop you in ways that are meaningful to you.

We have a unique, evidence based, occupation focused, and highly individualised approach. We see ourselves as ‘sense makers’, accompanying you on your adventure as you seek and create meaning through doing, being and becoming.
Lakeland Adventure proposed itinerary (subject to weather conditions!)

Day 1 - Derwentwater and the upper Derwent
  • 10 am - Meet up at the launching point and prepare boats and kit for the journey.  
  • Run a shuttle to the camp site and then enjoy a day exploring the lake and developing personal skills.
  • Arrive at camp and set up tents.
  • Poling and lining.
  • Camp craft and cooking.

Day 2 - Derwentwater
  • Pack canoes and plan our journey of island hopping and personal skills development . 
  • Navigation and incident management.
  • Safety and rescue.
  • Return to camp for evening meal. 
  • Leave no trace ethics.
  • Knotts and rafting.

Day 3 - River Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake
  • Plan our onwards journey down the river Derwent and down Bassenthwaite Lake. 
  • Sailing, rafting.
  • Group management.

 £160 for the weekend.  Contact me for further details. or, call me on 07969 803646 for a chat.

Canoe and kayak personal coaching

Canoe & Kayak Skills Coaching

Canoe & Kayak Skills Coaching

Personal paddling coaching - Canoe or Kayak, White Water or Open Water.

Read More  

Paddle Making Courses

September 2021 Paddle Making with Lina and Lizzie at Bodfari, Denbighshire

Make your own canoe paddle traditional tools in a beautiful woodland setting. Lizzie and Lina are canoe coaches who understand the elements that make a great traditional canoe paddle. They are also experienced green wood workers who will teach you how to use axe, knife and mocotaugan (crooked knife) to make your paddle in the traditional way.

Learn More

16th - 18th October 2020 - Journey Craft with Lizzie and Lina

Make your own canoe journeying items using traditional tools in a beautiful woodland setting. Lizzie and Lina are canoe coaches who understand the elements that make a great traditional canoe journeying kit, or paddle. They are also experienced green wood workers who will teach you how to use axe, knife and mocotaugan (crooked knife) to make your items in the traditional way.

Learn More

April 2021 - Canoe Expeditions Skills - Galloway

A weekend adventure in the beautiful Galloway Forest - learn and develop your canoe journeying skills and bushcraft as we complete a circular journey through moorland and forest... wild camping under the stars.

Learn More

By Arrangement - Spoons, Spurtles, Spreaders and Spatulas - Swaledale wild camping retreat

A wild camping retreat in an historic Viking field wood high on the fell side above the river Swale. Two days of tuition in green wood working, awesome food with the best views of the dale.

Learn More


How I coach my dog, from beginner to white water junk and expedition hound.

Blodyn my Welsh Collie enjoys his time canoeing and camping, to the point that he sulks when if he thinks I might have been canoeing without him. This isn’t an authoritative guide on how to train a dog to tolerate sitting in a canoe, it is a reflection on how I have been lucky enough to have a dog that is a great adventure companion. 

Blodyn came in to my life a week before the first lock down. He came from a North Wales hill farm, the last of the puppies to be homed, a tiny ginger boy who loved cuddles too much to have been a good sheep dog. I took him home and over the next week the reality of the impending  lock down sank in. Now I had the challenge of socialising a puppy in a socially distant world, and preparing him for a life living along side an adventure sports coach at a time when all activity had ceased.  I had visions of the lock down ending, and the first person who came near me being savaged by a full grown Blodyn Dire Woolf who had been starved of human contact.

So, I spent hours walking along the A5 hoping that traffic would come by so Blodyn had some exposure to the sights and sounds of normal life.  I played with Blodyn in and around the Affon Machno outside our house, encouraging him to paddle, swim and explore the river banks. When I had to go to the DIY store, I would take him for walks on the beach. My aim was to spend as much time as possible around signs of human activity and watery places as possible.  Above all I aimed to associate rivers and lakes with fun times and adventure.  Doggies are hard wired adventure seekers!

Throughout the lock down I would go 'away' for ‘trips’ with Blodyn. We would sleep in my van, outside the house, for a couple of nights, then the spare room, or a caravan holiday in the garden, then a tent or a hammock. Meal times were at random times, and I tried never to take him on the same walk twice. 

When it became possible to go canoeing in Wales, I took Blodyn to play with Lina, Maya and Billy dog. Blodyn loved playing with Billy around the lake shore and got on Lina’s paddle board with Billy and Lina.  I think a lot of Billy's confidence round water rubbed off on Blodyn.  Even when Blodyn was too nervous to jump in, he would bark enthusiastically, encouraging Billy.  

Eventually the moment came... and it was a complete anti climax. When I asked Blodyn to get in my canoe, he simply did so, with no fuss, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He had no reason not to like canoes, no reason not to trust me. I kept the canoeing sessions short to begin with. Blodyn had a go on a variety of craft, SUP, kayak and canoes. He went canoeing with as many different people as I could find. Over the summer I worked as a freelancer running canoe trips on canals and calm rivers. Blodyn would love every minute standing on the front airbags. I now know where the vikings got the idea for the figure heads on there boats. 

Blodyn came to try white water for the first time at Mile End Mill, he was mesmerised by the movement and sound. He went to his usual position on the front airbag and got a surprise when the waves splashed him. He has since developed his river reading skills; when he sees harder rapids he comes back and sits in front of me. When he sees very big rapids, he jumps over the kneeling thwart and sits behind me! As with training any animal to do anything, educating a dog to be a canoeing companion isn’t a quick fix, it is a lifestyle, a world view. It starts long before the dog even puts a paw in a canoe.

Read More  

Paddling - When we daren’t can’t, won’t and don’t 

We just cancelled this weekend's Canoe Leader Assessment.  The forecast is for gale force winds, far exceeding the remit of the award.  There might have been ways of ‘ticking the boxes’;  Hiding in a sheltered bay, finding a short and sheltered river trip.  This would not have been a full or fair assessment, and as a National Trainer I have to be seen to be setting the standard.   Apart from this, many of those involved, (the candidates and people they would have been leading on the assessment) were traveling with canoes.  In 50mph gusts that would be ‘sporting’ to say the least. So we can't and won’t.  It was an easy call to make. 

Other times when I daren’t , can’t, won’t and don’t can be more complicated, some instances are almost inexplicable to those outside the situation.  In the world of outdoor professionals we talk about the ‘row of lemons’ theory of disaster.  The idea being that accidents and incident are rarely caused by one simple disastrous factor.  For example, it is rare that there is a catastrophic failure of equipment, or someone gets struck down by lightening.  Most incidents are caused by a conspiracy of factors, or ‘lemons’.  

When considered in isolation these ‘lemons’ are harmless enough… but together they are a world of badness, like on an old school fruit machine where a row of lemons means ‘game over’. Say, the weather comes in a bit sooner than expected, the coach has a hangover, one of the group is carrying an injury.  All the things independently are incidental fluff.  However, when they start adding up the ‘lemons’ can come together in a catastrophic combination, and you end up with a ‘whole row of lemons’ and disaster strikes.  Part of the skill of coaching, leading or participating is being able to spot the lemons racking up well before the point of ‘game over’.  

It is not only recognising the gathering lemons, but verbalising it.  If you are thinking things aren’t going well, chances are other people are thinking the same thing... but not saying it.  When I was involved in outdoor education I always worked on the principle that I would rather finish a session early when the lemons were gathering, and come back with everyone in one piece.  This was often difficult to explain to my boss… because nothing had actually happened! 

The ‘sunk cost fallacy’ is another one to look out for. If you have invested a certain amount of time, money, energy in to something, and even though it doesn’t look like there will be a good outcome, you continue to invest in it, simply because of the outlay you have already made.  The beauty of the English language captures this perfectly with expressions such as ‘you can’t polish a turd’.  Often people are tempted to put themselves and others in situations that they wouldn’t otherwise; simply because they have done things like drive across Europe to get to the river, spent money on accommodation, or it is the only day they can paddle that month even though the rivers are brimming. 

How about times when I don’t because I daren’t?  There is some seriously weird head stuff involved here. I scrutinise my own worth, ability and credibility.  I used to really struggle when running away from a trip or rapid that I am qualified to lead and coach on.  It is a big thing!  Questioning if I should even be able to call yourself an Advanced Water Coach?  Feeling like an imposter.  Sometimes things just aren’t right, and I have no idea why.  Paddling is a massively psychological game and even the experts struggle to conceptualise what is going on there, and we, as human beings probably aren't clever enough to understand why anyway.  I recon boating is 10% physical 90% emotional (that isn’t a scientific figure!) For me, it is enough to have faith in the idea that there will be other days when things are going to be right, when everything is going to flow. It took me years to learn to be kind to myself about this. I don’t  *need* to paddle that rapid today, it will be there next time and who gives a stuff what anyone else thinks anyway.  Everyone gets scared.  If you aren't afraid of anything then you need to be in hospital.  Scared is what looks after us, it is all about whether we use the power of 'scared' for good or bad.  Ultimately, be kind.  If it isn't your time to feel discombobulated, someone else probably is.

Read More  

SMART Goals, WILD Goals and intentions.

I was running a British Canoeing Coaching The Mind course at the weekend.  It got me thinking about goal setting.  Every school student, and anyone who has done any form of management training knows about SMART goals.  They are Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.  You can chunk down your long term SMART goals in to a series of sub goals, in the medium or short term.  You can chunk down your big, long term goal in to to some positive action that you can do right now, today.  After all, you can't eat an elephant in one sitting! 


One of the challenges is 'establishing current reality’ for the people we coach. Delusion is a rare thing, most people get it that, for example, chances are that a 40 year old with a full time job and a gym phobia you won’t achieve gold in the next Olympics. They know that.  SMART goal setting is a valuable developmental tool, and widely used. However, would Margaret Hamilton have been laughed at if she had set herself a long term goal of number crunching with enough skill to put people on the moon? Imagine Hamilton as a university student being told; “So you are aiming to get so good at maths that you can do calculations that will enable people to walk on the moon... that isn’t a SMART goal, it’s crazy talk!” SMART goals are great, but so are dreams and crazy aspirational world bending goals. I once coached at a club where a 10 year old newcomer proudly told me they wanted to kayak in the olympics... and years later that is exactly what they are on track to do. If that young person hadn’t had a crazy dream they would probably still be setting themselves SMART goals that are perceived as ‘achievable’ and ‘realistic.’ Thank goodness no well meaning coach came along with some SMART goals.              

So, how about having some WILD goals? (I just made that up!) Think of the most impressive thing you have ever achieved. May be that was gaining a qualification? Winning a medal in your paddling discipline? Turning round a business to make an awesome profit? Chances are that at the start of the path that led you there that big achievement wasn’t something that was comfortably within your comfort zone, skill set or resources. More likely your road to achievement had certain features...


• Worry - it wasn’t plain sailing, you would be concerned that you would fail/weren’t good enough etc


• Instinct - you kept the faith, believed in your ability to achieve, even if you had no real evidence to back this up.


• Learning - you had to expand your skills set an learn new things and develop your abilities and resources to achieve it.


• Determination - it tested your grit and resilience. You had to knuckle down and see it through even when it looked like all the odds were against you, or you were seeing no tangible results.


Reflecting on how I came to progress with paddling and coaching, complete the British Canoeing Coaching Diploma, the MSc Performance Coaching).  To start off with  I just knew that in a vague and non-specific way I wanted to be better at paddling and coaching. I felt the key to this was gaining understanding by taking every opportunity that presented itself. I went on every training course and trip that I could. Sometimes I had no clear idea where these things were supposed to be leading, but eventually I found that I had experience and pre-requisite qualifications that enabled me to access higher level courses and provide my own courses and develop my own coaching practice.  I signed up for the Coaching Diploma with no idea if I had the intelligence, capacity, resources, money or ability to complete it.  Absolutely non of this was SMART. SMART goals are fab, but lets use them in conjunction with the potentially world bending WILD goals. Does it always matter if you don’t particularly know where things are leading so long as it is onwards and upwards? That sounds more of an adventure to me and I encourage those I coach to leave room for a bit of WILD, because you never know how the story will end.

How often do we underestimate people?  How often do we talk about goals when an 'intention' might be more inspirational?                                                       

Read More  

Planning your coaching and leadership progression - mentoring (witchcraft!)

I am lucky enough to do a lot of mentoring of aspirant coaches and leaders.  I try to do this face to face, over a brew and cake after paddling.  It almost always involves cake.  I am a big fan of 'Headology', the preferred magic of Terry Prachett's Disc World witches. Headology  is a kind of practical psychology.  It is based upon the notion that generally speaking, people are what they think they are.  There is no need for the witches to use 'real' magic (turning people in to frogs for example); if people think you are a witch, you might as well be one.  I probably learnt more about coaching and mentoring from Terry Prachett than any coaching course, or book. 

Prachett's witches have a robust set of principles -

- Being good rather than being nice. 

- Trading, rather than selling your services.  This isn't about money, it is about the idea that mentoring is a two way deal.  The mentor and mentee both benefit from the arrangement. 

- A reliance on second sight and third thoughts. It is all about the relationship and interconnections between the person you are coaching or mentoring, and their context. 

Above all the witches (Coaches!)  are interested in stories, the unique narrative of where a person is at, how they got there, their levels of readiness.  It is all about personal context, how that person seeks and creates meaning in the things they do and aspire to do.

These are some thoughts that lie behind my approach to developing paddlers, coaches and leaders.  If you would like to chat about your progression,  and start to put together a plan to work on your goals and intentions,  email me or drop me a message on Facebook 

Hubble Bubble!

Read More  

Wilderness bushcraft and canoe journeying - New Facebook group

A new Facebook group started by Alan Pinnington and I...  Wilderness Bushcraft & Canoe Journeying is all about creating a community of practice and 'hive mind' for people who like go get out on canoeing adventures using traditional knowledge and skills to enhance their experiences.  

There are those old sayings,  'all the gear and no idea' and, 'any fool can be uncomfortable'.  A large part of having a safe, enjoyable experience is about developing and practicing skills, and developing knowledge... wisdom is that practical application of knowledge which comes from experience. Thank you to all the people who have shared their wisdom and experience so far. 

Everyone is welcome to sign up, whether you are someone new to canoeing and/or bushcraft, of an old pro! 

Read More  


Blog - Wilderness Bushcraft & Canoe Journeying



ACE Canoes manufacture a fantastic range of traditional canoes and Kayaks. I paddle ACE Prospector canoes on my Canoe Leader and Coaching courses. They are a great allrounder.

Read More  

Alfresco Adventures - Canoe and kayak hire - Outdoor activities

Alfresco adventures can organise paddlesport taster sessions, trips and offer a full range of outdoor activities for groups, families and individuals. If you are planning your own adventure they offer Canoe and Kayak hire, along with all the kit. Get in touch with Sam to find out more.

Read More  

MedicREC - Tim Cain's legendary First Aid Courses.

Probably the best first aid courses on the planet. Delivered by someone with years of experience delivering first aid in the outdoors. These courses meet the requirements for all levels of British Canoeing and Mountain Training qualifications.

Read More  

SUP Active Yorkshire

SUP Coaching, British Canoeing SUP courses, sessions and journeys based at Ellerton Lake. SUP Polo, SUP Yoga and the awesome XL SUP. Danny can also provide SUP coaching for individuals or groups.

Read More