Volume 11 Issue 09

September 2011

September Paddler
The monthly newsletter of Liverpool Canoe Club

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31/08/11Paddler of the Year Awards
Each year the club asks for nominations for our four awards.  This years nominations are outlined below.  It is now time to ask for your votes for each of the four Awards.  You can do this by sending an email to website@liverpoolcanoeclub.co.uk with your vote (please vote even if you do not personally know the nominees.)  Awards are then presented at the clubs AGM on Monday 10th of October.

2011 Nominations for Paddler of the year

Michal Giezgala

Brian Green

Fiona Wrigg

Michal is a natural paddler.  He taught himself to roll in his second session at the docks.  His enthusiasm is never ending and often paddles with an over enthusiastic style.

Brian has been a keen organiser of sea trips within the club.  He paddles most weekends and is keen to help those new to sea kayaking.  He has also made excellent links with other paddlers and organisations (NWSK, Canoe lifeguards and the Marina)

Fiona Wrigg because she has achieved a lot from beginner to very good paddlers in less than a year since joining the club.  She paddle the Ubaye race course (grade 4) in the Alps this year and is a keen river paddler.


2011 Nominations Young Paddler of the year



Declan Richards

Chloe Richards

Jack Gille

Jake Massey

 Regan Bond

Declan has been a keen member of the club for a while now.  He is a strong paddler and has undertaken several trips with the club including Hilbre Island and Loch Lomond.

Chloe has been on several trips with the club including Hilbre Island and Loch Lomond camping weekend.  She holds the record for the "ladder jump" and is fearless.

Since joining in the family tradition, now the third generation of ‘Gille’ to join the club Jack has achieved his first Star certificate and made me so proud of him. After his first experience of canoeing in Trearddur Bay, Anglesey at the club meet, he has now ‘caught’ by the bug of kayaking ! From a nervous, worrier to a competent  canoeist he has gained a lot confidence since joining the club in all aspects of his life.

Jake has been a regular member of the junior club on a Tuesday evenings throughout the summer.  He prefers a longer kayak and is always willing to try different types of boat.

Regan can often be seen paddling his boat at both the docks and the pool.  While it is a playboat he is still able to self rescue by climbing in over the stern.


2011 Nominations Volunteer of the year

Chris Murphy

John Smith

Peter Diamond

Running the pool and developing the LCC clothing range both of which have brought well needed funds into the club.

Keen paddler who has run many Sunday sessions and has introduced links with Dunlop under 14s football team.

Peter has been relentless this year helping unlock the shed and putting kayaks away on the racks. His hard work has made club nights a breeze for the other volunteers.


2011 Nominations Swimmer of the year



Helen Siertsema

Chris Murphy

 Roy McHale & Andy Wrigg

Justin Cooper

Mark Garrod

River Lune, Magnetic rock.  Helen shot the drop above the rock in very low water but capsized and failed to roll taking a very cold swim.

River Lune, in 18 inches of water.  Chris`s excuse was that it was too shallow to roll but deep enough to exit his kayak.

We doubled up and had to rescue the empty canoe.  Roy and Andy were told that it was impossible to capsize in the X position. You guessed it, Roy fell over backwards taking Andy with him.  They then had to perform an unplanned “all in” rescue.

S-Bends, Rubber Raft  My group waited until the rafts had passed and then headed onto the s-bend. Unfortunately, the rafts weren’t as clear as we had hoped and we rounded a corner to find a raft wedged on a rock in the middle of the rapid! The other members of my group expertly avoided this obstacle, I however decided that I would like to see the underside of the raft, which resulted in a short but memorable swim!

A swim on the lake - Mark Garrod thought it would be a good idea to try John Cook’s little Biscuit on the lake.  He thought it would be a good idea to film his technique !!! he set his camera rolling and attempted his next trick which unfortunately ended with Mark upside down. I sat and waited for Mark to roll up with ease as he normally does but something was wrong… Perhaps an unusually strong current must have swept through the lake or something much worse ! All I can say I had a very broad smile on my face when I saw Marks head appear at the side of the upside down boat. A very unexpected swim had occurred.

Mark quickly stated various reasons/excuses for this swim, swallowed water/felt a bit warm/ boats too small/ Jaws was advancing through the depths etc etc but the fact was Mark Oliver Garrod took his 1st swim in several years on the most tranquil piece of Alpine water/pond known to LCC. Needless to say he very quickly deleted the evidence from his camera but myself and Emma can give anyone who wishes a first hand account.

31/08/11 The Alps trip – the full story
All the individual river reports and days have been put together to get the whole story of this years Alps trip.  Click here to view it or find it in the Major Trip Reports section of the site.


Photos from the Alps Trip………….

Social Media and Liverpool Canoe Club

Some of you may have notice the Twitter  Follow us on Twitter.... and Facebook  Like us on Facebook.... icons on the home page.  If you would like to try these just click on the icons and sign up for an account if you do not have one.



Club Paddles
If you fancy paddling on any of the proposed trips this year then please consider offering to act as a coordinator. You won’t be in charge of the trip; you just select the date(s) and act as a contact point to give information / gather prospective numbers etc. Contact Keith Steer with offers of help or suggested trips.  All coordinators will take a list of names and contact numbers before paddlers get on the water - please contact the coordinator before the trip.



Informal trips arranged by club members are circulated by the club`s Googlegroups email system.



Monday 19th September 2011 (7:45pm for 8:00pm)
at the Conference Suite - Liverpool Marina Click for directions and map....

For more information and to reserve your seat (free to club members) click here……



30/08/11The Tryweryn – Part 1 Saturday 27th August 2011

After a very scenic journey to the Tryweryn, eight members of the club met up for an uneventful trip.


Ian and I were in our Traditional canoes. We were looking seriously cool compared to the kayakers. After the usual 40 minutes of faffing about we all agreed to do the lower section first. With the vans down in Bala we finally left at 11am.


After the first rapid, Chapel Falls, Ian and I were full of water and had to empty out the canoes straight away. I think it was the rain rather than the river though. The trip was going great until I bounced off a rock and lost my top hand from my paddle and fell in. Unfortunately my swim line did not deploy and my boat went flying down the river. After a shortish walk through brambles, nettles, holly, and spiky grass ( I knew shorts were a bad idea ). I was able to get back in my boat which had been tied to a tree.


Things were going great, we were styling it in our  canoes, ploughing through the rapids with ease, Fiona was impressed as she didn't know how we were even able to steer them as they were so long.


She spoke too soon!


As we got to the section called Pinball, Helen and Justin went through followed by me. I thought I'll skim off this rock which will then put me through the gap into safer water. Unfortunately, the river knew better and twisted me and pinned me squarely between two rocks I put in a high brace hoping I would be able to pull it back round. I was stuck. 16 foot of boat with the full force of the river hitting it! Ian and Helen came down the river bank quickly and instructed me to get out and into the eddy. Throw lines were thrown to attach to the boat, but it was stuck. Ian came across to me but the boat didn't move 1mm. By this point Steve came to help Helen and Roy arrived on the opposite bank.


At this point Roy threw his throw line, including his clean end (still hungover I think) which was attached to the other end of the boat. Still the boat was stuck.


I had visions of my canoe folding in half. It was around this time I dropped my paddle whilst tying a knot. Helen came across to help Ian and I move the boat. Still not moving. We were all on rocks so the current wasn't really affecting us pushing.


Eventually with 6 people pushing, lifting, and pulling, my boat came free. Hallelujah! I dragged it up the bank stuck it on my head and walked round the rapid. Fortunately I still had my spare paddle and was able to get in the next eddy.  Ian came through the rocks next unscathed, and would you believe it, Fiona got pinned on the same rock. She came out OK but minus her paddle. Steve could only watch as her boat was completely stuck.

The same rescue happened again but with only five people this time. A girl from another group was able to free the boat but not Fiona’s paddle. A few more attempts by Ian, and Fiona had her paddle back.


Great, everyone is safe, we have our boats I still have my spare paddle and we can carry on. 30 seconds later, would you believe it? Another boat from another group got pinned on the same rock?  I hate rocks!

Nothing of note happened again until Bala Mill Falls. Justin, Ian and I had a look from above but I didn't fancy it. I was sure I would swamp and die, Ian was undecided. All the kayakers went down the falls, Ian and I went the more stylish way. (Being in canoes!)


All kayakers were fine, Roy and Andy even did some practice rolls because they're so good! A bit of messing in the slalom course and it was to the car park and lunch.  I was knackered.


On Wednesday, Helen did the lower section in 35 minutes. Today we did it in 3 hours and 15 minutes. And I loved it.  Back to the centre for lunch and then the Upper section. Steve, Justin and I didn't do this section and chose to go home instead. The others all set off from the chipper, but that's another story......


My knees are now hairless, and friction burned. My leg muscles are swollen, my shins are covered in scratches I am minus one paddle and I can barely walk up the stairs, but when can I go again.


A big thank you to all who paddled today. It was great fun and was a bit more interesting than some of the other trips I have been on.  As you can tell, I love my canoe. Three weeks ago I sailed it to Hilbre island, a week later used it for Crazy Polo at the Docks, and today as a river boat. Canoes are ace, and can be used almost anywhere.


Let's do some more canoe trips.


Paul Harwood (Steve, Roy, Andy, Fiona, Ian, Helen, Justin, and Paul)


30/08/11The Tryweryn – Part 2 Saturday 27th August 2011

After a nice cup of tea and a toasted cheese Panini to warm ourselves up, we headed up to the top section.  We ran the pre- graveyard section a couple of times in order to practise our eddying in and out, and dodging other paddlers, then headed on down.  Fiona followed Ian down but unfortunately didn't quite make that first eddy on the left at the top of the graveyard.  She hit the rock at the back of it then went over, again she hit another large rock further down and it looked nasty.  Poor Fiona took a long swim but managed to get into the eddy further down.  As I came paddling down afterwards, I noticed half a paddle working it's way down the graveyard section, Roy spotted it too and retrieved it from the water.  Oh dear, Fiona's paddle was having a bad day.  Fiona was now stranded in the eddy on river right so  she got onto the back of Ian's boat, while Ian tried to paddle over to the other bank with our poor victim. As it happens a raft came along and offered to take Fiona over to the other bank.  She clambered into the raft and it was quite funny to see the top of her helmet peeping over the side of it.

Now that Fiona was reunited with her boat but without paddles we made our way down the river.  Andy W executed an impressive ninja roll after Fedw'r Goch  and Roy the Rescuer also pulled one off on Fingers.  We got out just after Chapel Falls after a very fun packed and tiring paddle.  The rain continued to chuck it down and we all went home for a nice lie down!

Paul Harwood, Andy and Fiona Wrigg, Ian Bell, Simon, Roy "the Rescuer" McHale, Justin Cooper, Helen Siertsema.

Helen Siertsema

30/08/11This may of interest to the sea paddlers among you.

Every second Sunday of the month, a group of hardy sea paddlers meet at the Summit to Sea shop in Valley on Anglesey at 9am for an informal, accompanied paddle. The venue for the paddle is decided on the day and by what the group feels like doing. I went on the August paddle and five of us went from Cemaes to Porth Wen brickworks and back via Middle Mouse for a bit of messing about in tide race.  The group was dead friendly and were led by a local sea kayaking instructor called Glen, who is a mate of Pete Baars' (Summit to Sea).

All being well I will probably be going on September's paddle.  Summit to Sea and Pete Baars are on my Facebook so I pick up info on there, if anyone would like more info they can contact Summit to Sea if they so wish.  The idea behind the accompanied paddles is for paddlers who don't do clubs but want to make contact with other sea paddlers, having said that, it's for anyone who wants to go out sea paddling regardless of whether they are in a club or not.

Check out Petes shop on our members discount page…..

Helen Siertsema


28/08/11 Hilbre Trip – Strong Winds

Today’s planned trip to Hilbre Island was cancelled due to strong winds from Hurricane Irene .........................................................


Although six brave paddlers were contemplating making the journey (I wont name them but see attached photo).


A great time was had as we discussed how we all would of course been able to make the journey if we were paddling alone but as part of a group it would be best not to paddle.


 Karl Tattum

26/08/11 Tryweryn Sat 20th    "Roy the Rescuer and his Smelly Anorak"

Six of us turned up to do the "Sunshine Run" on Saturday.  We started with the lower section as a nice little warm -up.  Due to me (Helen) mixing up my left and right I told Fiona W that the best line to take on the NRA rapid was leftish when I really meant rightish.  As Andy W and I waited for her at the bottom I could see that Fiona was veering river left and I wondered why.  Anyway, next thing, Fiona had hit that slabby square rock on the left and was over, and it looked a nasty one too.  It was all hands on paddles as we chased the runaway boat down the river.  Andy got the paddles and Fiona executed a text book corkscrew white water swimming manoeuvre into the eddy.  Meanwhile, Roy and I headed down river where Fiona's boat gave us a run for our money.  Roy finally managed to corner the blue beast into an eddy by the campsite. In order to re-unite Fiona with her boat I had to go and see the tetchy campsite owner and ask if we could walk over her land.  She was very obliging and appreciative that I had asked and I then cheesily complimented her on " her lovely campsite". Soon enough all was well and Fiona was back in her boat.
Onwards at last.  It was a great run down and everyone was feeling comfortable and confident after the Alps, especially Roy who was eddy hopping like a man possessed.

When we got to Bala Mill it was a bit of "Shall I go first?", "No, you go",  "Oh, but Im not 100% on here", " Oh, I don't know" " Roy, you go first!"  And so it was that Roy the Probe headed down first then we all followed.  Fiona made it over only to be scuppered by her boat spearing the river bed at the bottom of the falls, and thus stalling her.  The stopper held her and over she went.  Roy to the rescue 2.  Andy and I went after Fiona's boat and Roy the Rescuer saved the day by throwing a well aimed line at our unlucky swimmer.

After lunch we went to run the top section.  Dom did grand job of running the pre- graveyard bit and the rest of us headed on down.  At the Ski Jump we could see that Michael had stopped paddling and was steering instead.  We clenched our buttocks as he ended up in the mad hole at the bottom, he stayed there for a few seconds and then inevitably went over.  Michael took another unlucky swim just after Fedw Goch and then I took yet another beating on Fingers. That's three, up- tempo, Fingers, fiascos in a row! Flamin' Nora!!!  Another protracted boat rescue.

If that wasn't enough we went for another run of the toppy. Michael B declined this time so Andy, Roy and I carried our boats up top.  When we got there Rescuing Roy pointed out that there was the prototype of the new "Shiva" that the chaps from Pyrhana were test driving. In his smelly, kayak spotting anorak, Roy also panted " look at the displacement hull on that!" as he fumbled under the aforementioned, fusty garment.  This time it was a fun- filled, eddy -hopping run and I managed to banish my Fingers bogey this time. Suck on that Fingers!!!

Many thanks to Roy the Rescuer, Andy and Fiona Wrigg, Dom and Michael Buckley for a cracking day's paddling. Great team!

Helen Siertsema


22/08/11 Windermere Camping Weekend 19-21st August

Honest I was not in charge of the weather. Friday evening saw all those who has booked on this weekend arrive on the campsite ( Carl L, Steve B with Jeannette and Regan, Tracy and Daniel Mc, Steve G.)  Despite the rain, every one managed to set up  camp.  The Low Wray National Trust camp site offer excellent facilities. After a short briefing of the plan for Saturday, every one decided to have an early night because of the rain.


The plan for Saturday was to be on the water for 10 am to paddle from the campsite to Bowness-on-Windermere have lunch and then head back to camp.  Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control we did not get on the water until about 10.50 am.  It was a nice day with broken sunshine in between so we set off toward Bowness-on-Windermere after an hour it was obvious that Daniel would not be able to make it that far with his small play boat so we decided to head for the nearest beach for a rest.   While on the beach it was decided that we should instead head across towards Ambleside for lunch. 


After crossing the lake we decided to have another rest at Low Wood bay before setting off again toward Ambleside. Once we arrived at Ambleside we headed straight for the nearest fish and chip shop. After lunch we set off toward the campsite it was about 4 pm.  Right on cue the rain started again, but this time with vengeance.  It was decided to go to the Pub that night for a well deserved pint, some coffee and food for the children (thanks to Steve G and Jeanette B for volunteering to drive). While having a drink we decided o plan for Sunday it was agreed that we will do a shuttle of car in the morning then paddle the length of Windermere from the campsite toward the Beach hotel Inn car park.


After another night of rain we woke up to a promising dry and sunny day.  We set off with the cars around 9 am to the finishing point after a reconnoitre of the car park it seem the place was not appropriate to disembark so it was suggested that we go further down and  park at Fell Foot on the National Trust car park. We make our back to the camp in Steve B`s car. Myself, Steve G , Steve B with Regan set off for the long paddle of about 10 miles, on our way toward Bowness we met up with 4 other paddlers from the club on a day trip heading toward Ambleside. 


After a short while we arrived at Bowness to have something to eat before continuing with our journey. After a good rest we started again toward our planned destination but after one and half hours of paddling the wind picked up and was against us making it difficult to paddle.  We arrived at the Beach Inn Hotel and decided to have a rest there.  It became obvious that it would take us at least 2 and half hours to reach our destination so we decided to stop at the Beach Inn and phone Jeannette B to pick us up so we can go to get our cars.  All in all everyone had a great weekend despite the rain over night. so watch  this space for another weekend paddle on Windermere. Carl L     More Photos……..

22/08/11 HILBRE ISLAND  Sunday 14 August 2011

We already have a story from the trip but I hope that it doesn't harm nobody to have another piece ...
This was my second trip to Hilbre Island but this time I thought I'm going to improve the task of getting the boat to the island and make it little bit easier ... So I took a Touring Double and a friend.

I nominated myself to steer the kayak and paddling was given to ... I did paddling as well I'm gentleman!
For friend of mine it was the first such expedition and the first contact with paddling. Maybe choosing a paddler I should be more strict and take into account criteria such as experience but it was too late to complain. 'A wind which was possible force on the three Beaufort scale' gave me 'black thoughts' ... well the water was warm ... swimming? no problem.

Big waves!  ... I was really surprise ... the waves were great fun for us and not the fearsome monsters! Just near the island we were chased by seals (they felt my lunch box). After a small break for relax and taking few photos (no time for coffee) we were fast heading back with the wind to the Slipway at West Kirby Sailing Club. (Karl, thanks for organised the trip but I won't framed the picture with you taken on the island).


Michal Giezgala   More Photos……..

16/08/11 HILBRE ISLAND  Sunday 14 August 2011


Not our first circumnavigation of the globe, but our first trip out with the club and our first, almost, circumnavigation of Hilbre Island by kayak. It was not the fairest of days, with some showers and a wind which was possibly force three on the Beaufort scale. These conditions kept us busy paddling hard to fight off the incoming tide with the wind in our faces for the outward journey…..exhilarating experience.


We were in our tandem Gemini s sit-on-top kayak and the slowest of the group of twelve good souls and ten boats. We, however, always felt the re-assuring presence of our fellow more experienced paddlers who gave us some guidance on paddling techniques that kept us going that made the trip most enjoyable.


At last some respite from the stormy seas, a sheltered beach, with Big Mac and fries all served by our leader for the day, Karl…… all this without a grill (if only, just wishful thinking).The intention was to go around the island but conditions proved too tricky for most. This was a good time for us to sit and chat, exchanging thoughts, paddling and other experiences.


Only too soon it was time for the return journey to be started, so as not to run out of sea water before we reached the launching slipway. This time the wind was at our backs and doing its best to blow us to shore too quickly but we paddled against it and kept our course, with able sea-man Ray at our side all the way. On the journey back the weather did brighten up and the seals and birds raised their very beings in salute to our endeavour, beautiful sights that we will treasure. The wind surfers darted back and forth but not deter us in our progress. We paddled on until our destination reached, that sceptred Isle, that blissful place, that slipway at West Kirby sailing club.


All safe and buzzing, united in the fact, this was a brilliant day we headed of for ,what was be coffee, at The Collingwood but in reality was other brews of individual choice.

We would highly recommend this trip for all. Thanks Karl and all for a great day.


Hazel and Bill Savage   More Photos……..


16/08/11 London International Polo Tournament 12th – 14th August 2011.

Some of our players had to work over the weekend at the last moment so we were always struggling for players.  We ended up with 5 (thanks JJ).  We were entered in Division 3 with the likes of Welsh Warriors and Wildcatz.  We eventually came 6th in the league but the tournament is one of the most friendliest around with a great BBQ, decent music and Phil`s new mate Jane giving quirky announcements over the loudspeakers.

In addition to watching and playing polo over the weekend Dinny and Keith were both successful in extending their Referee Grade 2 status for another two years.

With the club entering a second team into the national leagues this year and purchasing more plastic canoe polo boats in September there is plenty of room for more polo players in the club.  If you are interested in giving polo a go sign-up for polo emails or contact Dinny Davies by clicking the link or going to the polo pages of the website.

15/08/11 River trip to Afon Llugwy, North Wales – 13th August 2011.

6 LCC paddlers met bright and early at the Docks on Saturday morning. After some discussion we decided to head for the Afon Llugwy near Capel Curig. On route we scouted several features including Pont Cyfyng falls. At this point I nearly wet myself before being informed that this was a grade 5/6 drop that only the fool hardy attempt! Once on the river we practised surfing the wave and breaking in and out at the Plas y Brenin site before moving down the river. After a stretch of flat water we reached Jim’s bridge. I was led to believe that line was all important on this feature, however it turned out to be a grade 2.5 bimble! (Nothing compared to the rapids we recently tackled in the Alps anyway!!!)

Mark and Ben scouted the next drop and it was decided to portage the first part. I managed to get out on an island in the middle of the river rather than the actual river bank and found myself wading waist deep through the water to the side! Oops! Now Justin is gaining quite the reputation for getting pinned. We can confirm that this is the boats fault and not his!! As he was getting back into his boat, it managed to escape his grasp and floated unmanned towards the next rapid before becoming pinned on a rock. Heroically, Roy leapt out of his boat to save the distressed but unharmed empty vessel!

Finally we reached Cobden’s Falls. The line on this occasion looked difficult so all ran the section to the far left. We then played in the wave at the bottom. Andy threw out some more 80’s freestyle moves, learnt from Kirk in the Alps!!! Just as we were getting out an emergency situation arose!! News from the bank came that Roy was swimming!! Roy just about managed to save his throw line which had fallen out of his boat, he threw it to me on the bank. I could then see that he was struggling to swim all the way into the eddy so with no regard for my own safety I shouted ‘Line’ and threw his rope back to him. It was an excellent throw, Keith you would be proud, as it hit him in the face making it easy to grab. With all my might I pulled him the last 3 meters to the bank! Rescue complete, job done!!

It was a nice short paddle, which made us all realise that we need to improve our knowledge of rivers other than the mighty Tryweryn. A good day in great company!!! Thanks to Justin for organising it!


Plus Andy, Justin, Mark, Roy (who owes his life to me) and Ben!

12/08/11 Paddler of the year Awards

Every year we ask for nominations for the four Awards.  Club members can then review the nominations and cast their vote.  The Awards are presented at the Clubs AGM each year.


This year we have 4 categories. 


Senior Paddler of the year, Junior paddler of the year, Volunteer of the year and the ever popular Swimmer of the year.


Please send any nominations your may have to website@liverpoolcanoeclub.co.uk giving the name of the nominee, swimmer or paddler award and a brief reason for the nomination.  AGM is on Monday 10th October where all awards will be presented together with a presentation of this years Alps trip (Photos and Video from all members of the team)


12/08/11 Ray Goodwin talk and book launch last Monday in the main conference room

Over 75 people attended the talk given by Ray Goodwin who is one of the best known L5 coaches in North Wales.  Ray talked about the many expeditions that he has undertaken and some of the filming with Ray Mears.  He then showed us some of the photos from his new book, went into the level of detail required to get the shots and it was little surprise that it was 7 years in the making.


Those that purchased his new book will have a fantastic resource and a wealth of information, coaching tips and history of the open canoe at their finger tips.


If you missed out but would still like to purchase a copy Ray is personalising copies if you order via his website.  http://www.raygoodwin.com/


Further lectures and talks are offered monthly – Next Month 19th September - Nick Cunliffe (Wirral born sea kayaker)


08/08/11 Weaver Loop Canoe Trail – lots of links on the web

I was privileged enough to be asked along to coach some kids last weekend, to teach them about paddlesport, work on team building and generally improving self confidence. After a long day of warming up and warming down, kayaks, rafted canoes, normal canoes, diets, fitness etc etc, we sat down to plan our expedition along the Weaver Loop Canoe Trail.

The Weaver Canoe Trail is a trail that runs down the River Weaver, however it is possible to a loop around the Anderton Lift area, and that was where we were going as it meant easy logistics.


Because I didn’t want any hassle / grief about going through canal tunnels, if I wasn’t with a group I probably would have, we launched onto the canal from Tunnel Road near Barnton and paddled east to the Anderton boat lift. The canal was really busy, but everyone was very friendly and we had no problems paddling along, chatting to the barge people as they prepared to go on the lift.

All too soon we came across the lift, unfortunately we then had to get out at the portage sign and carry the boats down to the river. It would be great to go down the lift, but the portage get out is well sign posted. From the get out it is a quick portage straight across the car park, through some gates that look like dragonflies and down to the river – where we made ample use of the picnic tables. I say quick carry, but it is quite a long portage so either take a trolley or be comfortable carrying!


After lunch it was onto the river proper. The get in was probably about a 2-3ft bank, best not to seal launch in the area, so either be comfortable getting into kayaks from height or use opens.  Paddling along the navigation through our industrial heritage, the kids (and me) were impressed by the boat lift that we could now see from below. We chatted with some of the barges that we had met at the top, and set off along the navigation towards Acton Bridge.


Under swivel bridges, past old factories now being reclaimed by wildlife, we soon entered what appeared to be a more natural setting, but is in fact a man made navigation. Here we saw lots of wildlife, but little traffic – fantastic. Swans, Herons, Snow White and the seven Dwarves, there is lots to see as you paddle gently along the cutting.


All too soon we arrived at the locks. Here we had to get out on the right bank just before the sluice. It is sign posted, but is not obvious as the get out is a bit overgrown and I must admit to expecting more disabled friendly access on a canoe trail. Another portage, and this time its a get in from about 4ft above the water – again, don’t seal launch.


Then it’s a nice gentle paddle in pleasant countryside to the Acton Swing Bridge where you can get out just before the bridge if ending there (Leigh Arms pub) or just after the bridge if carrying up to the canal where you could have started if you were doing a true full loop.  I had never paddled this section before, but I had a great day and would paddle it again. But if you are thinking of doing it, take a trolley or be comfortable carrying boats – a nice deep dish yoke is worth its weight in gold!


Mike A

NB – Officially I don’t think we are allowed through the tunnels (check), so if you wanted to officially do the full loop you really would need a good trolley. The portage over the tunnels is too long to carry.   More Photos….

08/08/11 Hilbre Island Paddle Sunday 31st July 2011


It was a lovely sunny morning and a trip to Hilbre Island was on. My 6 year old little lad, Harvey, wanted to come with me. Open canoe then.  We packed our lunch. Burgers today!
I know, it's quite windy, I'll bring my sail today.
Arrived at the slipway to find 17 sea kayaks with their pilots set for winter expedition. Drysuits, thermals, dry cags, woolly hats. Harvey and I were a little underdressed in our shorts and T shirts, but on with the sun cream and sun hats and away we went.
We paddled out for around 10 minutes till we got to the deeper channel and turned right to go to the island. Fortunately the wind was in our favour and we put our sail up. I didn't paddle again until we were at the beach. This is what it should be like. Nice and easy, and very chilled counting the seals.
There were some big seals out there today grunting, splashing and some following us quite closely. Harvey counted 1264 seals and they were all different!
All the kayaks went around the island whilst Harvey and I started cooking our burgers. This is what makes the trip for Harvey, not the paddling, but the picnic on the beach, and the open air toilets!
I was expecting a slog on the way back, but would you believe it, the wind changed. I put up the sail again and had an easy paddle back! The boat tried to turn into the wind so all I needed to do was normal power strokes with no correction and the boat tracked perfectly straight. I took the sail down at one point and it was so much more difficult that it went back up again.
The trip to Hilbre Island on a calm day is great in a canoe, so much more relaxing than a kayak and so much more stylish. You can bring the kids with lots of room to move around. This is my 2nd time in a canoe and its great. However if the sea was rough and the wind too strong I wouldn't have risked ourselves or the group.
Karl organised another great day and finished it off by letting everyone know:

1) He did arrive late
2) The tide times were incorrect
3) He fell out of his boat
4) He did get towed by a canoe
5) He was too scared to go around the island
6) He wasn`t the lazy b******d with a sail.
Paul Harwood
      More Photos…..

08/08/11 Three Star White Water Assessment on the Durance

Prior to the trip a 3 Star White Water assessment had been registered with the BCU and offered to any members present. Due to the packed itinerary of rivers we had to make space on the programme. The assessments flat water elements were conducted on the lake adjacent to the slalom course and the white water elements used water at the top and bottom of the slalom course. The afternoon was warm and many spectators gathered to watch and learn. The assessment was conducted by Ian, Keith S and myself to the BCU new syllabus. A number of common and specific issues were identified and the candidates were given some action points to develop and skill training whilst out on the river trips. The skills were reviewed on the Friday and 8 members had made the standard.


Congratulations to Keith Scott, Chris, Roy, Andy, Justin, Neil, Michael not to forget Noel from our Irish contingent.


Those that participated felt that they had learnt from the experience and their paddling had improved as a result. The coaches also benefited from discussing the requirements and gaining a mutual understanding of the criteria and ideas on providing 3 Star skills training and assessment in the future programme.


Anthony Brockway   More Photos…..

06/08/11 The Journey Home


The minibus headed north around midday for the 23hour journey home.  We stopped at supermarche where possible to fill up as fuel is much cheaper here.  The new road (bypass) around Reims meant that we missed out on our meal in the heart of the cathedral city but we did make the 4:20am boat from Calais.

It seems that Team Kirk who stayed in a hotel near Calais mislaid passports and had to return to the restaurant and hotel to find them.  As this was only and hour from the port they were lucky to loose only a couple of hours.


Dom Buckley and Helen Siertsema    More Photos…..

06/08/11 The Gyronde – Misty River – Day 14


9 of us turned out for the last paddle of the trip.

An eerie mist hung in the air at the get in as the river Gyronde flows down through the pine forested hills behind Argentiere.

We all made it through the boulder infested first section to the broken weir without any drama not bad considering the time of morning.


The next section down to the Durance flew by.  Having merged into the Durance at the top of the town of Argentiere all we had to do was run the slalom course next to the campsite.  Again none of the group had any problems and so the end of the paddle and another fantastic Alps trip.


Anthony Vacarro    More Photos…..

05/08/11 The Camp site to Embrun – Day 13


The day started at 10.30 with a review of the 3* assessment, 8 members met the standard and were given action points on areas to develop. At 11.00, 20 members assembled at the bottom of the slalom course for the 40K paddle down the Durance to Embrum. We had one swimmer who unfortunately was paddling in summer kit and found that the glacier waters rather chilling, resulting in a retirement at Lunch. 


That’s a strange sight, no it can not be, Keith S on the bank, emptying his boat, yes it is. The reason behind this incredible sight was Keith`s boat had split and he was sinking, fast. He had to empty the boat many more times before reaching the lunch stop at St Clements and was able to use Keith Scott`s boat after the lunch.


Lunch at St Clement consisted of either butties or a meal in the café which is apparently tasty and value for money. Mark B caught us up here following a late departure, then rushed off to take the Holly and Emily horse ridding. A number of members took their leave and 14 off us continued on route to the infamous RABIOUX WAVE.


Briefed by Keith S we eddied out at the top of the wave then following on at 20 meter intervals we shot the wave on the left hand side, Roy and Chris rolled whilst both Jim and Mark M completed the wave but got caught out by the vicious boils, eddies and rocks below. Mark actually spun in the wave and managed an incredible backward surf out of the wave, unfortunately this was his undoing as he was not quite sure where he was. All credit to both of them and hopefully a success next year.


The rest of the run consisted of a series of large wave trains linked by flat sections, the wave provided some aerial fun and some good low and high braces ensured no mishaps. We shared this section with the rafts and hot dogs negotiating our way through them as they played pirates and tip the raft over. A tired team arrived in Embrun after a fun and wavy paddle.


Anthony Brockway    More Photos…..

04/08/11 The Ubaye Race Course Re-visited – Day 12


The Race Course… what can I say? Fantastic, fast and bumpy. Straight from the off it was for me quite intense and a big step up from Grade 2/3 to Grade 4 Alpine, luckily I was supported by Anthony B, David B, Kirk W and Mark B. Things were going well until a pretty big drop were I buried myself into a larger than necessary stopper-see above for swims, although in my defence it was a big piece of water. Lots more bumps and scrapes ensued without incident. Though I noticed other groups also had swimmers!!


The Race Course consists of some continuous rapids, some flat sections and some notable technically challenging runs. We all conquered the ‘Shark’s Fin’ section. And the rest of the run was mostly uneventful but really good fun. Approaching the last drop David informed me that this was the biggest drop on the run! How bigger could these things get!!! I gave it my best shot but took a poor line and got dunked, after a heroic but unsuccessful roll I decided a dip in the refreshing waters of the Alps was the order of the day.


Just as an end note we did have a couple of other swimmers in our group but to save any embarrassment their identities will remain hidden.


Many thanks to Anthony B whose constant coaching and advice made a very challenging day for me one the most enjoyable I’ve had so far.      



Jim Slater    More Photos…..


04/08/11 Ubaye section from La Fresquiere to Le Martinet – Day 12


Having paddled the upper river with us, Ade (who often paddles with Liverpool uni) hoped for the opportunity to paddle this grade 4/5 section of the river. As we reloaded the trailer a small side plan came together and it was agreed Keith and myself would join him. Keith borrowed a larger volume boat and asked Anthony to be driver. They would drop us off at Fresquiere on the way to the top of the race course and we would paddle the section meeting them there for lunch before we all paddled the race course section. I think some of group did not realise what was happening until we unloaded only select boats at the get in. We sorted out our order and plan as they assembled on the bridge to watch us down the first grade 4/5 rapid which started the run.


We set off eddy hopping down the rapid looking good according to the group. As we left their sight I got my line slightly wrong over a large pour over and had to test my roll. We carried on down and rested where the river changed to grade 3 for a short section. Then the fun started again, the second grade 4/5 rapid started with a small drop between two large boulders which turned you to the right whether you wanted to or not into a large eddy pool. From here the rapid steepens and eddies are faster and harder to hold so we changed group order as we continued down and in no time at all arrived at the raft get in where the others had just finished unloading the trailer and were having lunch.


Thanks to Ade and Keith for giving me the opportunity to join them on this great section of river.



Ian Bell    More Photos…..

04/08/11 The upper Ubaye – Day 12

Fort Condomines to Jausiers

The Upper Ubaye is a very picturesque, grade 3 paddle and the get- in is overlooked by a spectacular fort built into the cliff.  It was an extremely hot day and the water levels were quite low turning grade 3 into grade 2. Despite the low levels it was still a pleasant little run with nice bouncy rapids and lots of opportunities for breaking in and out for those fairly new to running rivers. Down from Condamines you come to “la Rapide des Parisiens” which is a scenic little gorge of boulders.  A further 2km down the river brings you to the “Pas de Gregorie” which is another little gorge with a nice bouncy rapid within.  No epics and no swims, we soon arrived in Jausiers for lunch and off for the second paddle of the day.


Helen Siertsema    More Photos…..

03/08/11 Verdon Gorge – Day 11


Seven of us set off at 7am to the Verdon Grand Canyon to walk/swim through the first part of the canyon in low water. It was a nice day but the water was cold so it`s better not to wear just speedos or swim naked which Michal has noticed the Brits usually do when on holidays (and Germans – and Kirk - when kayaking!).


We started swimming at Point Sublime and looked out for rocks, logs and obstacles to climb up and jump/somersault off – an excited Steve led the way leaping off everything he could find. We also came across a rope across the river to swing from and some people had a few goes whilst Roy, shivering in his shorts, warmed up on some sunny rocks. As well as the jumps, we had to swim through the current watching out for siphons where the water disappeared under rocks or trees. We finished safely a few kilometres downstream and headed back to the path out from the canyon through some dark tunnels which were drilled when the water companies were looking to dam the canyon back in the 1950s.  John had forgotten his torch and we almost lost him in the tunnels (remember a torch & all the right equipment when you’re planning to visit the Verdon canyon!).         


After some lunch back in the sun, we drove around the route des Cretes stopping at a few viewpoints to look down into the breathtaking gorge. We stopped for ice cream and coffee before the 3.5 hour drive back to the campsite full of excitement after our day in the canyon.


Sara Bergqvist and Michal Giezgala,   More Photos…..

03/08/11 Descent from Refuge C
èzanne – Day 11


On our free day my brother David and I decided to borrow Kirk’s bikes and cycle up to the café at the base of Glacier Blanc, called Refuge Cèzanne. Getting there was a hard cycle, continuously up hill with steep gradients. Well what did we expect? It is the Alps after all…


Our first departure from the campsite lasted a grand half hour, when we were distracted by the Boulangerie (5 minutes away) and then came back to the campsite having forgotten David’s mobile phone, an essential piece of kit!  On our second departure we did reach the refuge, climbing at least 900m over km in 3 hours. We arrived to enjoy lunch and were watched over by the magnificent mountains and a marmot or two...  As the saying goes what goes up must come down, so with trepidation we began the most interesting and exhilarating part of the trip; the run down.


The first part down was initially gentle with an obvious line (a grade 2) and few tight corners. However the run quickly became faster and steeper, requiring much more energy and attention to break out of the traffic flow. The increasing number of tight corners and speed of traffic flow made it difficult to inspect the line down. Here the road became crowded with other users, with us getting stuck behind a large white van. We could not over take due to the narrowness of the road, and we feared being pinned against a rock by the cumbersome truck if we did! Our feeling of frustration grew as we followed the van down through Ailefroide campsite, the run temporarily levelling out before resuming a steady grade 3.


At this point David noticed an alternative line (off road), which led to a narrow stone strewn path obviously grade 3/4 with lots of bumping and banging against rocks. At one stage I had a wobble but a well placed foot to push off the rock made for a good recovery. Next we encountered a steep almost vertical drop on our immediate left and larger boulders ahead. Without safety cover myself and David decided to portage this section, as the consequences if things went wrong on this section of the path were most unpleasant to contemplate; a definite grade 5 in our opinion.


Finally we rejoined the road, making our way comfortably down through Vallouise at a gentle pace taking in the scenery all the while.          But not all the excitement was over yet! David gave the signal to eddy out so I broke out of the traffic flow in order for us to attempt a bike track. After observing David run this twice successfully I was convinced to attempt it myself. I began well taking the smaller drops and jumps with ease. However after a tight corner I came up against a larger ramp and drop. I went to shoot it but the ramp held me and I began to roll backwards. As my bike flipped backwards upon itself I lost confidence and decided to bail!


Thankfully the rest of the run passed fairly uneventfully as we glided back through L’Argentiere, the flow of traffic carrying us nicely back into the campsite for a cuppa.


Michael and David Brockway


02/08/11 The Lower Guil – Day 10

The day began with us driving down a dusty dirty track to our get in point. Once at the river side we decided on the groups for the day. Following the three star assessments the night before several paddlers went with Ant Brockway in order to pick up some hints on improving their boat handling skills. I was in the first group with Keith S. He provided us with some coaching and tips on river running skills.


We paddled through some amazing scenery including a magnificent waterfall and some impressive cliff top buildings. The get out was a pebble beach area were some local children were playing. The sight of us paddling down the river was more than enough to scare them away!!


Fiona Wrigg    More Photos…..

02/08/11 The Middle Guil – Day 10

The afternoon river began with a shuttle up to the get out.  Unfortunately Fiona and I were the back markers and we only made it to the first junction before getting left behind!!  The next half an hour was spent guessing the right directions and broken phone calls due to poor reception.  We finally met up and drove up the river.  Looking down on the river as we drove along the road we all realised it would be an exciting afternoon.  We split into four groups and were straight into a continuous section of grade 3 rapids. 


Anthony B led myself, Roy, Keith and Antony V down without incident for the most part.  We eddied out just above a bridge to see the first group emptying boats and stood on the side.  News reached us that there was a nasty drop around the corner that had claimed two swimmers!!  Tentatively we carried on with a few people getting out at this point.  This was due to the wise words “it only gets harder from here” from Keith. 


The next section was a continuous grade 4 that my group ran successfully, bar one incident.  We were running short of time so we grouped closer together and Roy went upside down, I lay on his upturned boat before also going upside down and was hit by Keith Scott who also over turned.  This hilarity was followed by three well timed rolls!!! 


A great day was only marred by news that Justin had got out after hurting his hand having been pinned on a rock.  Luckily after a visit to hospital it was confirmed that there was no break. 


A great day and a true alpine adventure!!!!


Andy Wrigg    More Photos…..

01/08/11 BCU 3 star Assessment (White Water) – Day 9

Anthony B had usefully applied for a course number to run a BCU 3 star white water assessment on the River Durance over the second week of the club trip to the Alps.  10 of the group put themselves forward and duly demonstrated each element of new syllabus under the direction of 5 club coaches and a raft of onlookers.  This proved extremely usefully in terms of standardisation across the club and enabled us to provide some usefully feedback on the new syllabus.

Draw strokes.  The wording of the new syllabus gave some debate.  The old 3 star referred to static (braced) and dynamic (moving) strokes.  The new syllabus refers to “Moving sideways, both Static and on the move”.  Clearly the use of the word static refers to the boat and not the stroke but did lead to some confusion and may have been better dropped or changed to stationary.

The assessment notes also seem to require a sculling draw of 5m from a stationary boat and a draw stroke on the move.  Much debate revolved around this.  Did this mean a hanging draw (a static stroke) or a power (dynamic) draw stoke on the move to simulate the avoidance of an obstacle?


Throw line rescues.  The syllabus is not clear whether this should be on moving water.  The allowance of 1 minute could be confused with the old CST syllabus where you had 1 minute to recoil and throw again.  The first time element should be enough as on moving water if you miss the swimmer they are off downstream.


Possibly because of the history of the award it does seem to be a little confused in some areas between a flat water or a moving water award.

Ian Bell, Anthony Brockway, Keith S, Steve Bond, Mark Garrod.    More Photos…..


01/08/11 The Upper Guisane – Day 9

This mornings paddle saw four vehicles set off for the upper Guisane described in the guide book as “a fast flowing non stop scenic paddle in a high Alpine valley. We split into four groups and set off in the freezing water at the put in near le Casset. Almost immediately we had three paddlers in the water as the first drop claimed its first victims. The groups continued down through the valley passing the town of Monetier les Bains and we all climbed out of our boats to scout the infamous S bends. I was about to find out why they are regarded as a class 4 in all water levels but more of that later.


After a brief description of the line to take, Keith S took off first. Straight away we realised what we were up against when he got pinned on a rock, managing to free himself before carrying on. Ian went next followed by Mark G who took an interesting line which involved a couple of 360’s which he claimed were intentional! Next up was Kirk who styled it with a near perfect run. Obviously he must have been paying attention at the discussion at the top of the rapid.


The rest of the paddlers then made their way through and somehow the whole group got through unscathed. The last group of three, Roy Mc, Andy W and myself were the last to run it and my luck was about to run out. I torpedoed a boulder and then managed to get pinned in the same place that Keith had earlier. Despite best efforts I went under and spent the next few moments attempting to set up. It was a battle I was always going to lose but I didn’t give up without a fight. Eventually I was ripped from the boat (believe me if I could have reached my deck I’d have pulled it!), and Keith and Ian helped me to the bank and back into my boat.


Breathless very battered and bruised, but happy to be in one piece I carried on with Keith until we met up with the rest of the group. Naturally they we all very concerned with the condition of the Gopro camera that had been attached the front of the Kayak but after five minutes someone did remember to ask me if I was ok!


We all meandered down through the pretty town of Villeneuve checking out the flower decked hotel balconies overlooking the river and the campsites and sunbathers along the way. The paddle ended at Chantermerle and we headed back to the campsite to get ready for the 3 star assessments that were planned for the afternoon.



Chris Murphy    More Photos…..

31/07/11 Men of Menai - Anglesey

Saturday 22nd July 2011

After the success of the recent LCC Anglesey Endless Summer weekend, Pete and Caz were keen to get back to Anglesey for another weekend afloat. With the weather forecasts set fair, Steve and Don both keen to put some sea miles under the keels of their new boats and a plan was hatched to join the annual Merseyside Mountaineering Club meet in Rhoscolyn to do some paddling. Arriving at the Outdoor Alternative campsite on Friday evening, tents pitched, we settled into a pleasant evening with friends.


We awoke Saturday morning to brilliant blue sky, sunshine and little wind and eagerly prepared for a day on the water, opting for a trip from Rhoscolyn to Trearadur Bay we were soon speeding seaward so as to catch the early flood tide. Having first delivered a car to our take-out, we paddled out of the bay and rounded the headland inside Rhoscolyn Beacon, hugging the coast on an azure sea just like in the pictures in Jimski’s books. We all enjoyed a spot of rock hopping in some cases very, very closely, along the coast to Trearadur Bay with the odd foray into small overfalls. After lunch ashore on the beach in Porth Diana and with loads of time in hand, it was out across the bay to Porth Dafarch with Pete’s promises of ice creams and coffee for all. With slightly more swell for us to think about we sped across the bay towards our ice creams to be confronted as we turned towards the beach by the sight of groups of lemming, sorry coasteers, leaping from the cliffs and a bay full of rocks that that turned out to be groups of divers. Once ashore it was Caz who had to fulfil Pete’s promise of refreshments as miraculously, Pete had forgotten his wallet (take note).


The paddle back to Trearadur and the car was interspersed with some towing practice, trying out our different systems and seeing what works and what doesn’t and a spell in a quiet bay doing ‘T’ rescue practice during which Steve lost his sunglasses (OK, maybe relics of a bygone era of snow and ice but in yellow they do match his boat) to the delight of the rest of the group until Don spotted them on the bottom to the consternation of the others. Then it was on to the beach and the end of the trip. It had been a fantastic day; the weather, the sea state, the cliffs, in fact the whole day had been right on the button.


Sunday 23rd July 2011


Sunday morning dawned cool and overcast and the wind had filled in a little overnight although things did improve as the day drew on. Where to go? Was the question, Pete said that the Straits would be sheltered and we would have a favourable tide with any wind behind us. Seemed a good idea, sheltered water and protected from the wind, let’s go for it. We’ll put in at the Mermaid Inn and get out at Gallows Point, tide with us, a doddle. Sounded just the ticket, then Steve had a thought, between the two points is that rather nasty bit of water renowned among sailors, the Swellies.  ‘No problem, we have the wind behind and tide with us and we’re on neaps’, said Pete. ‘What about the eddies and whirlpools and what if I fall out?’ asked Steve, feeling a little apprehensive.’ Easy’, Pete replied, ‘just paddle, remember speed is your friend, stay loose and don’t fight the currents and we’ll look after you’. 


OK we had a plan for the day and after dropping the boats at the Mermaid the drive to Gallows seemed a rather long way but we would have wind and tide with us so we would gain a bit of ground and the Swellies didn’t look that bad as we passed.


Regrouping below the Mermaid to kit up, Steve had decided that if he fell in it might take until Conwy to get back in the boat, so dressed for a long swim and his actions encouraged the others to do likewise. By the time we got on the water, we were all beginning to steam as the sun came out. The paddle up to Britannia Bridge was pleasant and uneventful, although increasingly warm for us overdressed paddlers and we stopped briefly for a final chat before entering the Swellies. Hugging the Anglesey shore we passed under the bridge concentrating on every stroke, in tune with our crafts and felt the tug of the tide, we crossed eddy lines, we paddled through whirlpools and boils and any anxiety drifted away. We navigated rocks and nasty looking tide rips with apparent ease until Don, without the use of his chart plotter, managed to park his craft on top of a rock and appeared to be held fast. Pete, took the lead and managed to paddle through some back eddies against the stream towards Don, who fortunately managed to break free from his perch just as Pete got close. A good job too as none of us had read the instruction book on rescue techniques for paddlers on rocks. Regrouped, we paddled for Menai Bridge and found ourselves being spat out on the other side by the Swellies to Steve’s obvious relief. It was time for lunch so we pulled out on the Menai Bridge town slip for a well earned break. Once back on the water, we explored some of the creeks and expensive real-estate along the water front as far as the Gazelle then heads down, we paddled for home. Arriving at Gallows Point knackered but satisfied that we had had a great weekend of sea paddling under our belts. Oh! and from the Mermaid to Gallows Point IS a long way.


Steve G, Don B, Pete and Carole T  More Photos…..


31/07/11 Phoenix Canoe Club – Cork


Following an enjoyable two weeks paddling in the Alps with our latest affiliated club (Phoenix Canoe Club) we have been invited to Cork to paddle with them hopefully sometime next year.  As a taster we have linked in a slide presentation of a selection of sea trips undertaken by Phoenix.  Click to see the slides…….

http://www.phoenixkayakclub.com/PKC Page Header


22nd July to 7th August Club Alpine paddling holiday 2011

More than forty (41) of us were due to meet up in L’Argentiere La Bessee and were booked onto the campsite at the Whitewater course.

31/07/11 The Campsite to Embrun 35km


Two of my interests are geology and engineering structures the significance of this being that in the morning I swept into an eddie that wasn’t’ and came face to face with a lime stone undercut cliff which continued to flip and pin me against it’s rather craggy features.  Having escaped with only some minor cuts and scratches we paddled on. The other was during the afternoon paddle where negotiating a tricky drop under a road bridge I took a line to far right against the ravine side which meant I slew nose first into a jutting rock which formed the abutment of the said bridge causing the rear end of my boat to submerge and flip me backwards upside down.  A couple of valiant support strokes and two failed roll attempts meant I enjoyed another swim.


The day started with almost a complete compliment of some 24 paddlers moving off from the bank adjacent the campsite in groups of 6 down the river Durance, a grade 2 river. First impressions – turquoise fast flowing waters scattered with white tops formed by protruding rocks but encapsulated by panoramic scenery of steep ravines and forested mountains, A truly beautiful environment. The river twists and turns, the main aim was to spot the main flow of the river avoiding the gravel banks that have been re-shaped.


John Pegram:   More Photos…..

30/07/11 The Ubaye Jausiers to Les Thuiles – Day 7


A pleasant but uninspiring run which makes its way down through the town of Barcelonette in a man made (canalised) section past the airstrip to a little weir.  This was much easier than I remember it in the past as the levels were still very low.  The river then flowed through many gravel beds with wide sweeping bends and it was difficult to choose the easiest channel.  Over the last km or two the river steepens as it drops down through the wooden valley sides. These are marked by a campsite on the right bank.

There was a small rapid with a massive house sized boulder on the river left, no sign of the “dangerous siphon” on the river right but there was a grade 4 climb out next to the road bridge and the waiting minibus at Les Thuiles.


Helen Siertsema    More Photos…..


30/07/11 The Ubaye – Race Course – Day 7

After months of anticipation and excitement we finally set out for the Alps on the evening of the 28th July. Chris Murphy, Dave McLoughlin and I travelled down in Chris’s car and we arrived at the campsite around mid afternoon of the following day. The rest of the day was spent tent erecting and setting up camp and we even managed a few runs of the Slalom course to whet our appetites for the following day on the Ubaye River. We paddled the middle section in the Morning as a warm up for our afternoon’s journey down the racecourse section of the river. Guide book summaries of this grade 3-4 section state “that it is one of the classic white water racecourses in Europe with a variety of large rapids, an unspoilt and natural flowing river in a beautiful valley”.


The put in is by the old road bridge at le Martinet and before we started our journey we had chance to grab a sandwich and coffee from the small café at the site. This section of the Ubaye River is fast flowing and rocky in most parts and due to the time of year the water level is quite low and care was needed by the party of LCC members which numbered around 20ish that was split down into 4 smaller groups of 5 or so to avoid getting pinned or capsized by them while paddling down the section.


I can confirm that the guide book summaries are correct with the rapids being long and the surrounding Alpine scenery beautiful, well it is when you have time to take a look up from picking a  half decent line down the rapids which seem to come up every 500m or so. Names of the rapids on this section include “La Salle a manger” (the dining room), “Champanastais” and Sharks fin to name a few. The journey was a successful one for the group with only a few LCC paddlers having to reach for the spray deck and take a swim (I am not going to disclose any identities) I personally managed the journey with just a few rolls and think it is one of the best Rivers I have kayaked on to date. The end of the run has a great finish as you go under an old Roman bridge into a high, sheer sided gorge, the river in the gorge is quite slow flowing so you have a chance to admire both the gorge and the Roman bridge high above. The get out is about 500m after the gorge on the left of the river next to a campsite, beware if you miss the get out you go down into the dreaded Ubaye Gorge which is a grade 5 section. In summary a great afternoons paddle on a technical river.


Roy McHale    More Photos…..


29/07/11 The Glacier Blanc  – Day 6

After 5 days of kayaking, we needed a change so headed for the mountains.


Leaving the campsite early, we drove to the car park at Pré de Madame Carle (altitude 1874m), and started the climb to the Glacier Blanc.


The route was well marked, and suitable for walkers of all abilities – some chose to stop half way to the Refuge du Glacier Blanc, some had a well-earned lunch at the Refuge (altitude 2542m), and a few continued on to the glacier itself.


The weather and scenery can only be described as magnificent, we even found a friendly Marmot out looking (or begging!) for his breakfast on the path.


After about 5 to 6 hours of walking we finally made it to the Glacier Blanc itself, strapped on crampons, and walked a few hundred meters up the glacier. The views from the glacier across the mountain peaks were incredible.


Seamus O’Mahony & Paul Heffernan    More Photos…..


28/07/11 The Lower Durance – Day 5
The Lower Durance was a new experience for me, as last year when I was here I didn’t paddle it. The threat of the Fabled Rabioux wave put me off participating. But this year I plucked up the courage and to be honest, I’m glad I did. After getting in at St Clements, I immediately noticed the sheer size of the river compared to the upper section. The water is huge and full of wave trains, which suddenly cut off into flat water without warning. It was a very strange river after paddling in England and getting used to scrappy, rock garden filled rivers of home. This was basically big, open, and completely rock-less.


We paddled down as a single, large group of twelve and looked after each other in pairs, since the river was easily wide enough to fit us down as a mass. We bounced down the river and managed without a single issue (except me falling in on the easiest corner ever, and then failing to roll…twice) and after so long we knew we where approaching the wave. There was a couple of ways to tell we where near, one being the roar from round the next corner and two was the rafters casually flowing in to bob down the drop.


We pulled into the eddy and Keith went down first and got set up to guide us down. I pinned myself to the rocks, and after my complete failure of a roll coming down, I didn’t really want to do the wave but since my father John Cooke had come out of the wave mere days before in a spectacular endo. I had to beat him. So I waited my turn and went for it. Shooting down the left I got my line perfect(ish) and then really went for it. I shot into the wave and suddenly felt the force of the water. It snapped my paddle from my right hand and as it pushed me out I was on an awful lot of edge. So here I was, falling out of the Rabioux wave on edge holding my paddle one handed. If this was intentional, I would be so proud. I somehow stayed upright and eddied in, stunned I was still there. I ferried out and held up my hands to John Cooke to signal 2-0, first the slalom course and now the Rabioux wave. Even despite a swim I was very happy and not too fussed I was soaking wet and shivering. Still wish I hadn’t come out on that stupid corner though.

Ben Cooke    More Photos…..


A swim on the lake

Mark Garrod thought it would be a good idea to try John Cook’s little LL Biscuit on the lake when the others paddled the Lower Durance. So although I was more keen to hit the slalom course I bowed down to pressure and decided to join him for a bit of rolling practice and a play through the slalom gates. It wasn’t long before Mark was getting the Biscuit up on end and he seemed very happy with the boat but soon tragedy struck after Mark thought it would be a good idea to film his technique !!! he set his camera rolling and attempted his next trick which unfortunately ended with Mark upside down. I sat and waited for Mark to roll up with ease as he normally does but something was wrong… Perhaps an unusually strong current must have swept through the lake or something much worse ! All I can say I had a very broad smile on my face when I saw Marks head appear at the side of the upside down boat. A very unexpected swim had occurred.


Mark quickly stated various reasons/excuses for this swim, swallowed water/felt a bit warm/ boats too small/ Jaws was advancing through the depths etc etc but the fact was Mark Oliver Garrod took his 1st swim in several years on the most tranquil piece of Alpine water/pond known to LCC. Needless to say he very quickly deleted the evidence from his camera but myself and Emma can give anyone who wishes a first hand account.

Keith Scott    More Photos….(Deleted)


27/07/11 Upper Guisane – Day 4
18 of us got on to the Upper Guisane with the intention of running the infamous S-Bend. As this was my first time in the Alps I had been hearing many stories of the carnage this rapid caused on last years trip, so I entered the water with more that a little trepidation! We had split into groups of 4 or 5 to run the river with my group taking up the rear.


After a few small rapids we felt warmed up and ready to face the main event! A majority of the group decided to run the rapid, with a few (the sensible ones in my opinion!) opting to walk around. Keith took the lead with his group while some of us scouted the rapid watching his lines. By the time we got back to our boats, a number of rafts had appeared and taken over the rapid, blocking our way. My group waited until the rafts had passed and then headed onto the s-bend. Unfortunately, the rafts weren’t as clear as we had hoped and we rounded a corner to find a raft wedged on a rock in the middle of the rapid! The other members of my group expertly avoided this obstacle, I however decided that I would like to see the underside of the raft, which resulted in a short but memorable swim! Many thanks to Ian for the advice on how to remove a boat from a rock pin!


I was not the only swimmer of the day, Helen, having run many rapids during the trip, decided to hit a rock on a relatively flat piece of water and take a swim. Her boat went a good way downstream before Kirk and Anthony managed to rescue it.

Fortunately, no harm was done and we all made it back to the campsite in one piece.   

Justin Cooper    More Photos…..



Keith Steer, Steve Bond, Dominic Buckley, Michal Giezgala, Jim Slater, Mark Moore, Helen Siertsema, Anthony Vacarro, John Pegram, Anthony Brockway, Michael Brockway, David Brockway, Ian Bell, Sara Bergqvist, John Cooke, Sue Cooke, Ben Cooke, Darren Hale, Clare Hale, Kirk Williams, Gerry , Williams, Karen, Seamus O'Mahony, Billy O'Mahony, Paul Heffernan, Mark Benson, Emily Benson, Holly Benson, Keith Scott, Emma Lowe, Mark Garrod, Neil Moult, Justin Cooper, Chris Murphy, Roy McHale, Dave McLoughlin, Fiona Wrigg, Andy Wrigg, Anne Roberts, Evan Roberts, Noel O`Flynn


28/07/11 August’s Newsletter Published
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