Volume 12  Issue 11

November 2012

November Paddler
The monthly newsletter of Liverpool Canoe Club

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31/10/12 October Photo of the Month Competition


Liverpool Canoe Club October Photo Competition Winners

Congratulations to Fiona Wrigg for her winning photo

from the Club trip to the French Alps this Summer. 

“Keith paddling the staircase rapid on the Guil.”



Runner up Dave Collins :

“Hilbre Island Race held in Liverpool Docks because of 40 knot winds”


Runner up Roy McHale : “Vasiliy Boofing a drop

on the Biluti - Sayan Mountains Siberia Russia

Not found your photograph ? – see all the entries for this month………..




31/10/12 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.


28/10/12 National League Division 4 Canoe Polo at Stockport 27th October 2012


Saturday's polo tournament at Stockport showed some promising results for both the Liverpool Canoe Club B and Liverpool Canoe Club C polo teams.


Liverpool Canoe Club C team started with a few hard games and a few defeats but finally got into it with their first win against Durham University with an unexpected long range goal from Roy McHale. We continued our success in the next game where we went ahead with another cracking goal but this time from Mark Garrod however unfortunately this couldn't be held and we were defeated in the second half by two undeserved goals.


The most interesting game was left till last Liverpool Canoe Club C team against our fellow paddlers Liverpool Canoe Club B team. The game started well with many good saves from Liam Wong for the C team which helped us to a draw at half time however at this point we are sure Darren Bohanna had had some wise words with his B team. During the second half an undeserved goal by Peter Stone unfortunately made our heads drop causing another quick two consecutive goals but a 3-0 win to the B team.  We feel this was certainly undeserved as we played well as a team and dominated the defence but could not make the most of our good attacking start.


This was our first tournament as a team and I am sure that we will only get better as the season progresses. Unfortunately the one unexpected win which we manage to come away with was not enough to keep us off the bottom of the league. Although this may not look the best we are all pleased with our performance as it was only the first of many tournaments’ together as a new team.


A huge well done to the Liverpool Canoe Club C team; Roy McHale (captain), Liam Wong (goalkeeper), Scott Gibson (centre defence), Olivia Rowe (forward), Mark Garrod (wing defence), Paul Harwood (wing defence) and Will McCormack (wing defence).


Many thanks for a well organised evening by Scott Gibson (Div 4 league organiser). The first time I have ever seen a tournament finish on time. Well Done Scott. And thank you to Keith S for assisting Scott and helping Referee for the C team. A final thank you to Chris Benson for his work over the summer training and preparing the C team.  Hopefully we cause some of the teams a little trouble in the future Div 4 tournaments.

Liam Wong    BCU Canoe Polo Div 4 Results…….         More Photos…….



28/10/12 Sea Kayaking Expedition Around Prince William Sound, Alaska- 2012


As the warm Liverpool sun began to rise, it dawned upon me that my trip of a lifetime to Alaska had finally arrived. My huge backpack was packed, kicked and squashed as much as possible in order to accommodate all my essentials for my thirteen day expedition around Prince William Sound with fellow sea kayakers from Liverpool Canoe Club.

I wasn't too sure I would be able cope with the extreme cold of Alaska as I nearly became hypothermic just sitting on the highly air conditioned National Express coach headed for Heathrow! Following a night in an airport hotel (whereby I made the most of the facilities before heading for the wild); I finally stepped aboard the plane headed for Minneapolis. Nine hours later, I met the rest of the team in the U.S and we then boarded another plane to the WILD!


Stepping off the plane at Anchorage airport, the first image to catch my eye was a life sized (roughly 6ft tall) stuffed bear on display in the airport terminal. The closest I had ever been to a bear, was a teddy bear and I was hoping it would stay that way! 


The following morning we were taken by Gary (airport transfer) to the supermarket in downtown Anchorage for all our food for the self sufficient trip. Two hours later, bags upon bags were loaded into the big purple bus; then we made our way to Whittier. On the way, I lost count of how many glaciers I saw and buildings became more scarce minute by minute. Eventually, we reached the small industrial town of Whittier via the four mile Whittier tunnel, which was carved out of an entire mountainside.


Our sea kayaks were delivered clean and shiny. I was allocated a gorgeous lime green explorer sea kayak which complimented my lime green cagoule. Nothing like being a cool kayaker! We all then set about trying to pack all our kit and food into all the available hatches. I was astounded by how much kit could be packed into my small sea kayak. My kayak was like Mary Poppin's bag-never ending!

With the warm Alaskan sun shining over us, we paddled away from the safe harbour of Whittier into the unknown; armed only with a map and radio. As an inexperienced sea kayaker, I was quite nervous about what the trip entailed but I was up for challenge of a lifetime. It didn't take long for Alaska to show us it's beauty as we looked on in awe at glistening glaciers, crystal clear water and a bald eagle devouring a salmon on some nearby rocks. We had only been paddling two hours and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place.


By early evening, we eventually embarked on our first night's camp.  Keith, Kirk and Ian (who had visited two years earlier) stepped onto the pebble beach and went to inspect our possible campsite for the night. The fact that they didn't run back from the woods chased by bears was a good enough reason to stay at Decision Point for the night.


I had experienced the Outback of Australia before but this was a true expedition because there were no toilets. We were in the middle of nowhere! We set about constructing tents, cooking tea and we also made sure that every scrap of food was stored well away from our camp. We even had to move our toiletries e.g. toothpaste etc as bears love toothpaste apparently. Each tent needed to be equipped with a pepper spray in case any bears wanted give us a hug in the night! Hours later, as the sun set in the wide Alaskan sky.  I listened fearfully for the crunch of bear's feet outside the tent...


Bleary eyed, I opened my eyes and thanked God I was alive to kayak another day! The day started early- 6am, in order to see as much as possible. The tents were taken down, kayaks packed with everything from sleeping bags to huge jars of peanut butter and we were off again. Yet another sunny day greeted us and we kayaked through extremely calm waters past Blackstone Glacier. By 11am, we were in need of a sweet treats as the weather became cloudy and cooler. We sat on a small pebbly beach complete with its own cave and mini waterfall. Bravely, I set about filling up on essential water supplies and also got an unexpected shower at the same time!


Happy, after eating lots of chocolate snacks, we paddled for another three hours. What I could not comprehend was the sheer silence we encountered. Alaska was totally unspoilt. Suddenly, I noticed what I thought was a spouting of air in the distance. I was proved correct as a huge whale tail appeared about two miles straight ahead of us.  The chase was on as we sprinted as fast as Usain Bolt in order to get a closer look at our humpback friends. We tried our best to gain distance on them but they moved off further into the Sound. Our spirits zoomed again half an hour later though. We were paddling near the shore when suddenly several spouts of air startled us about thirty feet away. We just sat in our kayaks stunned, as the humpbacks swam around us for over an hour. They got so close to Keith that he was covered in whale spit. The whales circled us quite nosily and they gave Kirk, Debbie and Vicky the fright of their lives when they appeared right in front of their kayaks. It was as if they were welcoming us to Alaska personally. It was awesome! The whales were the main topic of conversation after that and quite fittingly we saw whale’s everyday after that close encounter.


The following day, with the weather overcast, we packed up our kayaks and set off once again into the unknown. After nearly an hour, we reached a huge, towering waterfall, complete with its own bear! Keith caught a glimpse of it before it trudged off into the dense woodland with a freshly caught salmon in its mouth. The water was full to bursting point with salmon. You could literally put your hand in the water and catch your own sushi for breakfast. Later, the wind and rain set in so we beached ourselves on a small island complete with its own wooden hunt used by fishermen in the early part of the century. It was like something Scot of the Antarctic. Tea was made and we all took shelter in our warm tents.


The high winds prevented us having an early start the next morning so we were devastated to have a lie in and enjoy a leisurely pancake breakfast. By mid afternoon, we were back on the water and had great fun riding the waves in the swell. Two hours later we set up our tents, made tea and relaxed.


Desperate for the toilet, I trudged through the forest quite loudly shouting our team catch phrase of “Hey bear!” in order to scare away any furry friends. I found a safe place between two huge trees. As I looked left and right (like watching Wimbledon!) for bears, I was hit quite hard on the head. Like a scene from Benny Hill I ran for my life whilst pulling up my kayak dry pants. I didn't get attacked by a bear in Alaska-I got attacked by a killer pinecone!

The next few days were spent paddling towards our next destination-Icy Bay via Dangerous Passage. The weather remained calm and we blissfully paddled our way past floating sea otters and leaping salmon whilst bald eagles soared above our heads.


We stopped briefly for a quick snack and sunbathe on a small beach whilst looking at icebergs in the distance. From a distance, they just looked like white dots on the horizon but as we paddled closer, they were huge, glistening structures. As a geographer, I couldn't paddle fast enough in order to see my first iceberg close up. Finally, there I was just five feet away from a real iceberg. We paddled further through a small ice field which floated on aqua blue glacial water. On a sunny day, the scene couldn't get any better-or so I thought. Around the headland in Nassau Fjord, I was left stunned and completely speechless as I saw Chenega Glacier for the first time. It was a huge, natural river of ice and yet again I sprinted forward to get a closer look at one of nature's wonders. The icebergs became larger and more intimidating. By the time we had reached the ice field; we were reduced to paddling single file because the ice field was so dense. I was smiling was ear to ear-it was geography heaven for me! 'Now this is an expedition', I thought.


As we paddled through the concrete like icebergs, the noise of the ice scrapping the side of my sea kayak made me realize why the huge pieces of ice sealed Titanic's fate. In the distance, seals lazily used the icebergs as sun loungers and looked on as we carved our way through the ice. After an hour of kayaking through ice cubes we eventually reached a beach just around corner from the glacier. Tents were hastily put up, as the beach was covered in flies -which had a big bite! Going to the toilet that night was pretty spectacular to say the least. It is not often you have a glacier to watch whilst going to the toilet. That night we fell asleep whilst listening to the glacier carving. The sound resembled a severe thunder clap and it echoed eerily throughout the valley. What a perfect day!


By 7.30am the following morning, we were sitting in glorious sunshine, just under 100ft away from the carving Chenega Glacier. Watching the huge chunks of ice fall into the aqua blue water below was truly mesmerizing.  I could have sat in my kayak all day and watched it. But, as always we set off early in search of new adventures. I wondered how it could get any better. We paddled back through the silent packed ice field and made our way to a small pebbly beach where we enjoyed an icy breakfast. We even used the washed up icebergs as mini tables for our food! Afterwards, we paddled under clear blue skies for several hours to Tiger Glacier, which was around the next headland.


On the way, we were astounded to see two other kayakers. We hadn't seen anyone since we started the expedition. The Americans told us about their encounter with a bear the night before and wished us luck on our journey. Finally, there in the distance, Tiger Glacier loomed. We paddled within 200m of this glacier, complete with its own towering ice cave. It was certainly the most picturesque place I had ever eaten lunch. As we tucked into our snacks, a massive chunk of ice carved off the glacier and a mini tsunami ensued. Debbie and Kirk, ran like lightening to save our expensive boats; it was a close call! We then spent the rest of the afternoon lazily paddling back towards Icy Point and camped on the smallest beach in the world. It should have been in the Guinness World Records, the amount of tents, kayaks and equipment; we managed to squeeze onto that beach.


The next day, we paddled back through Dangerous Passage. It was a dismal day with constant drizzly rain but it was made a whole lot brighter when we saw a BEAR! Yes, a real life bear! As we paddled by rocks, quietly ready to catch a glimpse of any wildlife, one of the rocks moved. It was a black bear. He was only small and quite young by the look of him. As he searched the rocks for any stray food, he was startled to encounter our colourful kayaks. We watched from a distance as he made his way back over the rocks, stopped to take another look at us and then scrambled up a nearby tree to the cliffs above. It was magical. The rain continued all day and we finally set up camp on what looked like a large beach. Little did I know that there was a high tide and so as I read my book in the tent; Keith and Kirk, made a point of saying (repeatedly) how high the water was getting to the tents. I thus bade a hasty retreat out of the tent and under the tarp; where Keith and Kirk sat smirking! As night time fell, everywhere became calm and I fell asleep with bears running through my head. As Pete walked past the tent in the middle of the night, I jumped up terrified and shouted that there was a bear in the tent and so there were giggles of laughter from the tent that night.


The next few days were spent paddling to Knight Island and then onto Crafton Island. The glorious weather was back and so we crossed the Sound yet again; whilst listening to whales in the distance. Following lunch and a bit of sunbathing on a gorgeous beach, we paddled onwards. We were once again followed by whales, three mischievous sea lions and eagles had become as common as pigeons. Late afternoon, we reached a small inlet and suddenly everything became really eery. There was total silence. We paddled through a small creek which was full of stinking, dead salmon. As we paddled cautiously around a very small headland; there in the distance was a HUGE BEAR! It wasn't baby bear- it was daddy bear! He had just caught a salmon. He looked at us and then strode confidently back into the dark forest to enjoy his meal. We travelled further into the creek and whilst the boys played in the mini waterfall, I paddled a little further and sat watching a golden eagle devour a salmon, only 10ft away from me. After tea, we settled down in our tents and listened to the sound of whales singing in the distance.


The weather had been quite kind to us over the course of the trip but my sea kayaking skills were tested as we crossed the Sound headed for Surprise Cove. We had received radio reports that the winds would become extremely strong so we had to cross the Sound whether we liked it or not; as it was going to get a whole lot worse. It was the first time I had experience rough seas. As the waves pushed some of us towards the rocks; both the incoming waves and the reflective waves battered my kayak. At one point, whilst I was sat at the trough of a wave, I could not see the others trying to head further out to sea. My heart was racing as I was bombarded by massive waves. Eventually, through sheer determination of not wanting to die; I paddled through the huge waves and high winds out to sea. It was like being in a tsunami. After another hour of paddling and praying, I was relieved to see Surprise Cove. It was extremely sheltered and it even had platforms for our tents; as well as a toilet!


We spent the next two days land based as there was a storm out to sea. At Surprise Cove though, the sun shone gloriously and we sat on the beach. The beach became a laundrette as we set about drying our sodden kit and we also dried ourselves out with two days of sunbathing, reading, listening to music and relaxing.

After two days on dry land, we were ready to get on the water again. At 7am we were paddling through the dawn sunshine towards Blackstone Glacier. It took four hours to paddle to. By 10am we stopped for a quick snack on a glacial moraine and an hour later we were yet again left speechless at the sheer size of the glacier. We were even more stunned to see, kayakers getting their pictures taken right under a cliff where the glacier towered over. If that glacier carved…..


Yet again, the sun shone upon us and it was a picture perfect day to see another natural wonder of the world. After paddling roughly 36 miles that day, we reached Squirrel Point and it really did have squirrels. We were treated to platforms and a toilet-albeit it was right in the middle of the wood. That night, I experienced the culinary talents of Keith and Kirk as they shared their pan of cheesy broccoli pasta and then I ate my own tea too! We had our last campfire and it was really sad to think that the trip was nearly over.


We left Squirrel Point early the next day and enjoyed our last three hours on the Sound before arriving at Whittier once again. There was some fun to be had before that though I had a fabulous time paddling under a small waterfall and getting completely soaked! As we paddled towards Whittier in the distance, it was extremely strange seeing building and civilisation. It was with much sadness that we got out of our boats for the last time and watched as they were loaded back on the trailer. I was already jealous of the next kayaker who would be using 'my kayak'.


Hungry, tired and weary, we carried our massive backpacks to the Swiftwater Sea Food Cafe. We spent the next few hours relaxing and devouring fish and chips. Although, the smallest and youngest in the group, I was the first to finish my meal!


Later, we were picked up in the big purple bus and taken back to the motel. After freshening up, we made our way to TGI Friday's and had a celebratory meal.  As we sat on the plane ready to zoom down the runway headed for home; I hoped and wished that I would return to Alaska as it had really and truly captured my heart.


Stephanie Long       More Photos……….


28/10/12 Merseyport Canoe Polo tournamnet – 21st October 2012


At the last minute we were offered a chance to play in a practice tournament at the pitches at Merseysport.  Darren managed to get together 2 teams to play against FOA and Bangor University to make a league of 6.  It was a perfect weekend with fog in the morning which cleared by midday to give sunny conditions.

I am not sure of the results, it didn’t really matter.  However, the games provided very useful as preparation for the upcoming tournaments.  It was great to get some local games to practice with.


 More photos…..


23/10/12 Essential Sea Kayak Festival ~Anglesey ~ http://essentialseakayakfestival.wordpress.com/


With October coming to a close soon and Autumn slipping into winter, it was a great bonus to me and Carole to have some warm settled weather for this event last weekend. Those who turned up looking to test themselves in big winds appeared happy too as we all gathered at the end of each day in the Paddlers Rest at Anglesey Outdoors to swop tales and compare notes.


It was a fantastic festival, well organised by LCC member Matt Giblin and his business partner and friend to LCC, Nick Cunliffe and their very capable team from http://www.kayakessentials.co.uk/.


Five LCC members ( Brian, Vicky, Alan, Carole and me ) signed up for the festival rather late in the day but most of us managed to get at least our second choice of coach led events on each day.

On Saturday Vicky, Carole and me practiced all sorts of fancy paddling strokes in and out of tight spots in a “Boat Handling” day led by 5 star coach Mark Tozer. Mark had a whole armoury of techniques that he shared with us and we all got plenty of practice during the 5 or 7 hour session. Brian was busy pushing his tiderace skills with “A Day At The Races” and came back tired but happy that he had been tested. Sunday saw Carole and me paddling out to the Skerries, lead by the world renowned but very unassuming Barry Shaw, with a return trip to Bull Bay via Carmel Head and a couple of caving exploits on the way. Barry showed us various useful techniques of navigating and planning open water passages. Vicky did a day of “Coasteering for Sea Kayakers” , which involved getting in and out of kayaks in some very improbable and rough places along the Anglesey coastline. Her brand new Pilgrim Expedition showing some battle scars to prove she had a good time. Some went surfing, some went rock hoping, and Brian went “Managing Incidents” off Carmel Head during a fast flowing flood tide.


We’ve been getting out quite a lot since returning from Alaska and this festival weekend built on skills we had learned on the 4 star training we did a month or so ago with Nick. Also, having paddled around Holy Island with Chris Drew and a bunch from NWSK just a couple of weeks ago, Carole and I really enjoyed taking in some pretty lumpy conditions at Penrhyn Mawer, the Stacks and a fantastic chute through Stanley Embankment. Four Mile Bridge proved to be no obstacle for us even though we had to play on the wave for a while and battle quite literally up-hill under the bridge. We then paddled onwards down to Rhosneiger and then back to our starting point at Borth Wen. A really great 21 mile day out in some memorable conditions and it was the deciding factor that made us commit to the sea kayak festival and try to up our game even further.


If you’ve never been to anything like this festival, watch out for it next year. There’s lots of opportunities for the advanced, intermediate and even the beginner can find an introductory session that will suit them. The festival actually goes on for over a week with coaching, BCU courses and assessments etc. but, like us, if all you can mange is a weekend then they are happy to fix you up with some pretty inspiring stuff.


Hopefully there will be plenty to sea trips coming soon for all to enjoy, especially when all of our aspiring 4 star leaders start looking to take out small groups to help build up their leadership skills. Hopefully we’ll see more of our new sea kayakers joining in the fun.


Pete Thomas       More Photos……


23/10/12 White Water Kayak Expedition to the Sayan Mountains, Siberia, Russia August 2012 (Part Two)

Text Box:  
The Biluti
Friday 17th August - The Long Walk to the Biluti base camp.

“Nothing in this life is for free” was a phrase spoken a few times during the trip or in other words if you want something you need to pay for it and the cost for running the Biluti is the pain and sweat caused by two days of hiking through Text Box:   The start of the walk in.

trackless wilderness with a loaded kayak strapped to your back. We set off on the hike around 11am boats strapped to backs by an array of “Portage packs” or “Sherpa systems” as the Russians called them. The Brits have Pyranha Portage packs but the rest of the group have either the NRS Sherpa system or homemade ones.  The Russians say the homemade are best. Tomass and Vasiliy set a blistering pace through the forest and almost instantly disappear amongst the trees, I soon lose the feint trail that they seem to be following so easily and get left behind but I’m not last.  Somewhere behind me are Alex and Peter. We are guided in the right direction by whistles and calls from the front which echo through the dense forest and we regroup every kilometre or so. At one of these stops Tomass tells me I have “a gift for losing the trail”.

The hike goes on for around 6 hours until we reach a tributary that over the millennia has cut a deep ravine into the mountainside.  We need to cross this ravine to get to the base camp which is situated high up on a cliff between the upper and lower canyons of the Biluti. Throw lines are rigged up and the boats are winched across the ravine whilst we need to climb down the slippery near vertical ravine walls cross the tributary then climb up the other side. I suppose it was a bit like a Via Ferrate but without any safety rails to clip into. Once reunited with our boats they go back on our backs for a short hike to the base camp which is only a few hundred metres away.  Once there we go about our daily routine of collecting wood and water and once the fire is going and the evening meal cooking we put up the tarps and you get your sleeping bag and matt out and set up before it goes dark. As always all your dry bags especially ones containing food need to be hung up so the mice are unable to get at any food.  Over the evening meal we talk about the portage and the upper canyon of the Biluti.  Peter decides he has had enough carrying boats through forests and won’t be going any further up. Tomass tells me and Alex that if we make it to the upper canyon we will be the first Brits to do so. We go to bed hopeful that everything will work in our favour and we can reach the upper canyon.


Text Box:  
Siberian Via Ferrata

Saturday 18th August - Hike to the upper Canyon.

We awoke to steady rain that had completely soaked the forest, part of me thought this may affect water levels and we wouldn’t be able to paddle the upper canyon, but the rain stopped after a few hours. We spent most of the day around the camp collecting fire wood and wild foods whilst the forest dried off. The Russians, especially Text Box:  
Wild Mushrooms

Gresha, were really good at identifying edible mushrooms and berries and came back with a haul of them which we cooked and ate. 

At around 5pm we started the hike to the put in of the upper canyon.  Again the pace was fast but this time we had empty boats as the plan was to carry the boats up then come back to the base camp for the night before hiking up again the following morning with the rest of our paddling gear to run the river. I found it much easier to keep up carrying an empty boat and was up near the front for most of the way. The terrain underfoot was treacherous and you had to keep switched on as one wrong step could result in a sprain, fracture or worse. Every so often the trees would thin and you would catch a glimpse of the river deep in the canyon below it looked awesome.


After just over 3 hours we reached the put in and as we checked out the first 6 meter drop and which I thought looked “scary as Hell”.   We heard voices calling from the other side of the river. It turned out to be Tomass’s brother in law and 3 of his friends who were hiking in the area.  They knew we were trying to make the put in on or around the 18th and thought they’d try and meet us, which by chance, they did. They decided to come back to camp with us and we helped them cross the river.  By the time they had made it across the sun was setting fast and we knew we’d have to hurry back to camp before darkness fell as it would be dangerous walking around the forest at night. We set off at a fast pace which  got faster and faster until we were running and we ended up running all the way back to the camp.   We lost the trail a couple of times in the gloom but found it again thanks to Vasiliy. We finally made camp just in time it had taken around 1 hour 15 and for the last 10 minutes or so we’d been running through the dark with head torches on. After the evening meal the group quickly made their way to bed ready for the big day tomorrow.


Text Box:  
Winching the boats across the ravine

Sunday 19th August – The Biluti

After breakfast we break camp we stash everything apart from our paddling clothing and equipment down by the river ready to pick up later.  It takes us 2 hours or so to hike back up to the put in and everyone gets quickly get on the water.  I feel nervous about running the first waterfall which is a 6 meter high drop into a churning pool the lead in to the drop is quite technical as well but as usual the portage is probably more dangerous so I decide to go for it.  I break out of the eddie and head down the rocky lead in I’m travelling fast and I get past what seems to be the hardest section with no problems then I go and capsize around three Text Box:  
12 meter water fall on the Biluti

meters from the lip of the drop. I roll up just as the bow of the kayak is on the lip with no time for a “boof”.   I pencil in to the churning pool below where I’m given a good beating under the waterfall and with no chance of escape, I pull my deck and swim. The water is extremely cold and saps my energy quickly.   I’m thrown a line with a karabiner on which I have to reach around and attach to the harness on my buoyancy aid then I swim back under the falls to retrieve my kayak. 

The next obstacle after I’m back in my boat is trying to avoid a stopper at the bottom of another drop by riding a cushion wave that sweeps around the drop from left to right. I see Tomass run it and he makes it look so easy I try to follow his line but the hole seems to have a magnetic effect on the stern of my kayak and as I attempt to ride the cushion wave I get pulled backwards into the hole. Again I find myself pulling my deck and swimming this time my boat goes down the next drop on its own.  To get past this next drop I need to climb part way up the canyon wall and walk along a ledge before jumping 20+ feet back into the river and swimming to the other side where Vasiliy has already emptied my boat. Two swims in less than 100 hundred metres of the put in not a good start to the day but over the next few rapids there are other swimmers and during the time it takes to Text Box:  
The Upper Biluti Crew from L to R: Andre, Alex, Me, Xavier, Vasiliy, Max, Gresha

get them back in their boats I have a chance to compose myself and eat my last Snickers bar to give me some much needed energy. The rest of the upper canyon went past in a blur.  Most of the rapids were grade 4+ boulder gardens and there were also numerous shoots, slides and drops. There was also two difficult portages, the first around a series of drops, the second was around a 12 metre waterfall that 2 of the group ran but I didn’t fancy it. The last difficult rapid of the upper canyon was a double drop which half the group ran and half portaged.  I portaged and watched the others run it there were various lines taken some successful, others not so.  There were a couple of swimmers.

We had now finished the upper canyon and it was around 4.30pm and we still had the lower canyon to run and once we made the confluence around another 2 hours down the Kitoy to the hunter’s lodges where we were staying the night.  We needed to make the lodges as we had not much food left. The Biluti, as it runs through the lower canyon is continuous grade 4 but there are no high drops which I was glad of. We had to hurry and as with the upper canyon my memory of the river is just a blur which is a real shame as it is a truly spectacular place and it would have been nice to be able to take it slower and enjoy it more. We finally made the hunters lodges at around 10pm and for the last 20mins or so we’d been paddling the Kitoys big volume rapids in almost full darkness.  Avoiding massive holes in the failing light was certainly an experience.

 There is a caretaker at the lodges who is called Viktor.  Tomass has known Viktor for years and stays at the lodges a few times each season he had sent some supplies to him in the way of cigarettes, vodka and chocolate Text Box:  
Vasiliy Boofing a drop

and in return he supplied us with some food and we stayed the night in log cabins that had wood burners in them.  We got the burners going and managed to dry all of our kit over the next couple of hours.  There was also a Russian Banya there which is a type of sauna and we washed with warm water for the first time in eight days. As I lay in bed totally shattered I reflected on the day I had just had and how tough and exciting it had been from the start right up to the end. It had been a true epic.


Monday 20th August - The Hunters lodges

Max and Xavier where in the same lodge as I was and when we awoke in the morning we got the fire going so we could finish drying off kit. We also boiled water for coffee by sitting our tin mugs directly on the wood burning stove. We sat around drinking coffee, eating boiled sweets and chatting about the previous few days.  Around mid-morning other people started to emerge from their respected lodges and we all gathered at the communal open sided kitchen to find out what was the plan for the day. We had collected together what rations we had left and there wasn’t enough for the rest of our journey.  Tomass spoke to Viktor in Russian and after what seemed like some bartering he gave us some supplies which included some tins of beef, some split peas, some packet mash and a block of cured pig fat called “Salo” which I found out is a popular food in Russia. While we talked about the plan for the day I cut up the pig fat and we mixed it in with a sort of watery potato soup that Tomass had made from the packet mash and some garlic. To accompany the meal we also had some slices of the stalest bread I’d ever seen Text Box:  
At the lodges cutting up the pig fat

(if you’d have dropped a piece on your foot you’d of definitely known about it).  Saying that, not a morsel was left of either the bread or soup when I’d finished.

As we ate we ended up speaking about various things and then Tomass told us a story about Viktor the caretaker at the lodges.  It was hard to determine Viktor’s age but I’d say he was around 60ish and he lived alone at the lodges for the full 12 months of the year. During the short summer season he had hikers, fishermen, hunters and a few groups of Kayakers staying at the lodges for a night or so.  During the long winters he would only get a few hunters passing through.  Viktor walked with a stick and had a limp and I hadn’t given this much thought until Tomass told us why. During one winter season a few years earlier Viktor had been out hunting in the snow when he mistakenly walked into a bear trap. The bear trap was a trip wire that was attached to a rifle.  As he tripped the wire the rifle went off and the bullet went through his knee. It took him 2 days to crawl back through the snow to the lodges and then it took another 5 days for him to manage to get down the Kitoys big volume rapids in the small flat bottomed boat he kept at the lodges for ferrying guests across the river. It was a full 7 days after the accident that he managed to reach the Text Box:  
Andre, Victor the caretaker & Vasiliy

hospital and by that time his leg needed to be amputated. He now has a wooden leg, so no wonder he walks with a limp. I concluded from the story that the Siberian wilderness is a hard place to live for both man and bear. 

The Long paddle;

We said our goodbyes to Viktor and left the lodges at around 3pm. From the lodges to the get out of the river it takes between 10 & 11 hours of paddling so the plan was to paddle for 6 hours then make our final camp before continuing the next day to the get out where we would be met by the trucks. The Kitoy here was still big volume and you had to keep on your toes but the rapids weren’t continuous and you had chance to enjoy the mountain vistas as you floated on down. Whilst we had slept in the lodges the previous night there must have been a storm up in the mountains as the snow line was lower down the mountains than before and there was also a real chill in the air. We stopped after a long and uneventful 6 hour paddle and made camp at the side of the river, spirits were generally low probably due to lack of food and the cold. The first priority was making a fire then we sorted the tarps and bedding whilst Tomass cooked the evening meal. After the tarps were up we sat around the fire eagerly waiting for the meal that consisted of split peas with tinned beef to be cooked as we were waiting Tomass produced a loaf of fresh homemade bread that had been made by Viktor. The bread was cut into equal pieces and we ate it with a topping of “Sgushenka” which is condensed and sweetened milk it was lovely and tasted a bit like an iced bun it seemed like a real treat to me as I’d eaten my last Snickers on the Biluti.
Text Box:  
Me, Xavier & Max all smiles before the long paddle to the get out.
Tuesday 21st August

During the night the temperature had dropped quite a lot and in the morning Buoyancy Aids and sleeping mats were frozen solid. We quickly made the fire and tried to get warm.  After breakfast we set out on the final leg down to the get out. The river here was wide and every so often would split into different channels around islands.  After not more than 10 or 15 minutes the group had spread out so much that each paddler was paddling alone with only the odd glimpse now and again of someone else either in front or behind.  The only rapids were on the sweeping bends and after the rapids there were usually long sections of turbulent and slow moving water that took a lot of energy to paddle through.  Eventually, after 5 long hours of paddling, I reached the get out which was at a small village. Max and Xavier had reached the village first and had bought a crate of beer and some crisps from the village store and as each member of the group arrived we were treated to a beer and some crisps. The drive back to Irkutsk was full of laughter and jokes as the group unwound and after we’d sorted the kit and ourselves out the group went out for a meal, vodka and beers to celebrate finishing the trip. I spent the next day in Irkutsk sightseeing before I flew home early on the 23rd.

Since I’ve been home loads of people have asked me did I enjoy the trip and the answer is always a big “YES”. It was an overall amazing experience that someday I would love to be able to do again.   If anyone is interested in hearing more about the trip I’ll be doing a talk about it on Monday 10th December at The Liverpool Marina Bar.   You can also watch a short film that was made by Tomass called Siberian Summer which shows the rivers that we we’re running click here http://vimeo.com/48600923   

Cheers Roy       More Photos………….

Read the whole article here…………


23/10/12 White Water Kayak Alps August 2012 (Part Three)


Minibus - 14 days


Medical Form







Keith Steer

Burn M








Stuart Toulson

Jeff M








Kurt Toulson









Helen Siertsema

Burn M








Dom Buckley

liquid logic stomper








Michael Buckley

liquid logic remix  M








Anthony Vaccaro

Pyranha Creek M








Sarah Gille

Karnali L








Roy McHale

Burn M








Kathryn Wilson

Burn S








Mark Garrod

Nomad M








Paul Flaherty

Burn S







We hired a newish minibus from Nationwide and it was delivered exactly on time.  The LCF trailer was then picked up from Oldham.  The group then met in Formby to load up the trailer.  With the move towards more Creek boats space in the trailer was at a premium (we need more playboaters on the trip next year).


As usual people tried to smuggle extra items on to the bus or trailer (there was supposed to be a strict weight allowance of 50KG).  Stuart and Anthony did a good job in customs and loading.


We made extremely good time down toa to catch the Eurotunnel train and arrived on the campsite a good 3 to 4 hours earlier than usual.

All the photographs………..



01/08/12 The Verdon Gorge - Day 12 Wednesday


The Verdon gorge is situated in the Parc Naturel regional du Verdon. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty.  A 13 person group from LCC braved an early start and set of at 7:20 am for the Cote d'Azure. We arrived in good time, despite Marks navigating skills (it`s a good job most rives only go one way). Parking at the point sublime was at a premium but we managed to find a spot slightly up hill from the entrance to the gorge. Kitted up in our kayaking gear, minus spray decks we marched down the road and then steps into the spectacular gorge.


After a safety talk from Keith we quite literally jumped in (off a 10ft rock) to the water. Cold but nothing us kayakers are not used to. We then simply floated down on our backs looking up 1000 meters to the top of the gorge above. Words can not describe the view. The pictures must simply be viewed to get an idea of the atmosphere. 


We encountered rapids, syphons and strainers, but nothing we couldn't handle. After about 3 km we made our way from the river up to the trail and then followed some old engineering tunnels through the limestone rock back to the start.  We emerged into gorgeous sunshine, ascended the gorge and made our way back to the minibus.


After a quick lunch we headed down to the "lac de sainte croix" where the Verdon gorge ends. A nice cool down in the lake was enjoyed before we set of back to camp. Stopping for a fantastic meal in Mezel (just before Digne Le Bains) and were looked after by the most attentive and friendly staff it rounded the day of perfectly. A long but amazing day. Not to be missed if you ever get the opportunity.


Steve Hitchin     More Photos………


02/08/12 The Middle Guil - Day 13 Thursday

The group experienced a little bit of faff this morning, with one car getting lost, despite it being one road. This resulted in a slight rush to get on the water, however with rushing usually comes mistakes, this became clear when one member of the group forgot his spraydeck, don’t think Keith will ever live that one down.


Before long we were split into 4 groups, ready and raring to go on the middle Guil. This section of the river was rocky and technical, getting progressively harder downstream. Most of the group ran down to the ‘Surprise Drop’, not so much of a surprise because the group knew it was there this year. Half of the group exited here and they were kind enough to run the shuttle for those staying on the river.

Eight paddlers remained on the river from this point onwards and the boulder garden became bigger and faster. We were allowed a small breather at the beginning of the ‘Staircase’ rapid, where Helen, Chris and myself took the grade 5 portage line. Keith proceeded to lead Mark, Andy, Roy and Paul down the infamous ‘Staircase’. The first drop saw a bit of carnage as Mark got caught in the stopper, temporarily lost his paddle and had to pull his spraydeck (while his head was underwater), this resulted in a swim despite what he tells you.


The group reformed at the bottom of the staircase, with the guys still buzzing from the staircase section.  We were warned to “stay switched on” because it wasn’t over yet. We continued down to ‘Le tunnel’ twisting and turning through the boulders, Helen and Chris caused a bit of carnage, deciding to choose the sideways and backwards line through one section, but both came through unscathed.

At ‘Le tunnel’ the group was buzzing but we decided to exit here in order to run Chateaux Queyras in the afternoon, after the all important lunch break.   


Lucy Stuart     More Photos………


02/08/12 Châteaux Queyras Gorge - Day 13 Thursday


The group assembled at the car park below the beautiful fortress of Châteaux Queyras. After lunch, those who were paddling the gorge, kitted up and heading down the steep river bank. Luckily Keith was able to borrow a spray deck!

We split into two groups to tackle the gorge, Keith, Andy, Fiona and myself led the way, closely followed by Paul, Roy and Chris. Keith, Andy, Roy and Paul ran this section the week before; therefore they tried to reassure Chris, Fiona and myself that there was nothing to worry about it, and to enjoy it. Fiona and I were still a bit concerned and when we asked Keith where the line was, he replied simply with “just follow the water”. That didn’t really prepare me for what was to happen next! We dropped into the gorge at full speed, it was such a blur, my heart was racing and I just tried to keep my boat upright and pointing downstream as we raced through the narrow, winding and extremely fast white water gorge. This section was really short and soon enough we were able to take a breather in a pool after a small drop. As we caught our breath we made sure to look up and around us, as the view of the gorge and the fortress from below was unbelievable.


The group faced a couple more rocky, winding and fast sections of the gorge, none of which compared to the first. Before the final rapid section the last words I heard were from Paul, something along the lines of “watch out for that tree branch I got pinned on last week”. Sure enough, 2 minutes later, as I wondered whether the tree branch I could see ahead of me was the one Paul was talking  about, I too became pinned! My boat wasn’t going anywhere as the branch was pinned at the front of my cockpit. I had a little rest here, trying to stay calm, before realising that an extended bum wiggle would free my boat from the branch. With the first group all down safely we watched the last three come down the final section. 


Chris managed an interesting hand roll/roll off the floor and came up much to the delight of his team mates as we whooped and cheered. At the get out, the team was buzzing, still high on adrenaline, everyone felt like they had pushed their paddling during the days activities.


But the fun didn’t stop here! The whole group regrouped at the Chateaux Queyras car park, and after a short drive we went for an evening swim at the Roche-De-Ram Lake. A series of jumps, dives and back-flips was topped by Paul as he climbed to the highest point of a tree (I’m going to say about 10m) and dived off. What will we challenge him to do next?


This day, by a long way, was my favourite day of the holiday.


Lucy Stuart     More Photos………


03/08/12 Rabioux Wave - Day 14 Friday


The day I surfed the Rab wave and won!! (well almost!!!)


Andy, Sarah, Chris, Lucy, Roy, Paul and me decided that we didn’t have the energy to run the whole of the sunshine run so we went to Saint Clement to play on the slalom course. Chris styled the top wave along with Sarah, who side surfed the wave, went over but hung in her boat forever for a T rescue from Roy (Gille indeed!!)


We all carried on down the river and decided to raft up for most of the trip in order to gossip and sun bath, most enjoyable!! We did have a few problems, however. Chris managed to get pinned on a rock and need an actual full on rescue to get free (rafting is apparently never clever!!) 


We carried on down the river to the Rabioux wave which we all styled.  On the previous trip to the Rabioux wave I tried to play in it and immediately got binned; I had unfinished business!   This time I approached the wave with instructions that when I got thrown upside down I was to wait for calm water before attempting a roll. I somehow managed to get the perfect line onto the wave and surfed it for what felt like forever. Unfortunately I had been given no instructions on how to cope with this scenario; so I had no idea how to get off the enormous wall of white water!!   Finally the only way seemed to be to throw myself off and upside down!! I hung in for the role but … it never came hence, well almost won!!!  


We all spent the next few hours ‘playing’ in and around the wave.  What a fantastic day on the river in great company in the hot sunshine!!  The perfect end to a great holiday!! Cheers guys!!


Fiona Wrigg     More Photos………      Video of Roy…….         Video of Paul…….



03/08/12 The Clock Face – Via Ferrata - Day 14 Friday

It was time to take a break from all of that cold water stuff.  Every morning I had been looking up towards the clock tower which was on top of a small cliff above Argentiere.  It was clearly visible from the camp-site every day and I was keen to scale its heights; so a plan started to form.


After a quick walk into L` Argentiere I found that the local sports shop would hire all of the equipment required for the Via Ferrata (climbing clipped into steel ropes and metal rungs).  So after discussing directions to the start of the climb the long hot slog started.  Ten minutes later, I was ready to clip onto the cable and “good to go!!!”


The climb started vertically upwards then sharply off to the left and at this point it began to get quite exposed,  As the foot and hand holds disappeared, some scrambling and use of the little used “ Spanish eyelid “ hold were required.  The climb then rose vertically upwards following a fault line in the rock.  At the overhang, while I was executing the crux move, one of the crabs caught on the rock below and some foul words were uttered!!  A few moments later, the summit was reached, only to find that I would have to repeat this backwards a few meters further along to climb down again.


A great afternoon out and a big thanks to the guy who put the steps and cables there. 


 Stuart Toulson      More Photos


03/08/12 Campsite to Embrun (38km run of grade 2/3) - Day 14 Friday


As it was the last full day before we left, many teams were too knackered to kayak all day and instead headed off to Via Ferrata, (some climbing malarkey or just decided to have a poxy little paddle around from St Clement, whilst the “elite” team (Mark Garrod) stayed in bed.  The rest of our plucky bunch (The Buckley Boys, The Benson Bunch, Anthony, Kathy and lastly Keith) decided for some unknown reason to do a marathon length paddle.  We were all ready and set to go for 10am, just waiting for keith to get back from the Shuttle Run.  After he finally arrived, we got on the water at half 10.  The water was characteristically bouncy and friendly, ready to play.  Behaviour which we’ve grown to love about our little Middle Durance.  Marianne Davey and Keith made a striking pair in a purple tandem kayak.   Kathy was her usual indomitable, unshakable, upright self.  For the rest of us, the only thing worth commenting was that there was nothing worth commenting about us.  Even though you might have a look at the length of the paddle and think “Holy Jesus!” the river was running at a fairly respectable 7 km/hour (All estimates from SteerCorp), and so even if we only added the paddling strength of an arthritic granny, we could’ve finished in about 5 hours (not counting rest, lunch, and faffing breaks; of which there were…. Many).


Early on in the day Pops decided to drill us on rescuing a panicked kayaker suffering from an out of boat experience, nobly hurling himself from the safety of his kayak to increase the authenticity of this drill.  Apart from this ‘rehearsal’ there were no other spills or swims from our crack team of paddlers.  After what seemed like an eternity and a day, but was more like a couple of hours, we reached the dreaded (at least to some of the more ‘experienced’ [as they like to put it] members of our team) Rab Wave.  Dad and this wave have had history, and not an entirely pleasant one at that.  He was determined to leave the Alps only once matters had been settled between them.  This he did, with the poxy paddlers bearing witness to his moment of glory!  Kathy also fairly owned the wave, competently gliding into a nearby eddy with but the barest of a hip flick and a quiet nod of satisfaction.  Although Emily didn’t think the wave worthy of her paddling through it, she did swim down it, with Keith chaperoning to ensure no funny business went on. 


 After we were all safely through, all the paddlers and frenchies waiting on the shore watched agog as I surfed majestically upon the Rab. I could go on the explain more but it would be like describing a cathedral as a lump of stones… part of the quintessential sense of awe would be lost with these ugly words, suffice to say it was a thing of beauty!  After watching this, father was overcome with the purity of the moment he had just been privileged to see and decided to spend the rest of the day meditating on what it could mean, so we left him at the edge of the Rab and continued on down to Embrun.  We rode through the waves as a school of dolphins or salmon would, gracefully and efficiently, with no false modesty at our skills, being one with the water.  I can only assume it was shortly after, as time had ceased holding any meaning for us once we had started to listen to the song of the Sunshine Run, to dance the dance of the Durance, we arrived at the stone steps heralding the end of our epic paddle.  A French fisherman sitting next to our get out, a lit fag hanging from his rustic lips, the meaning of which I have yet to puzzle out, watched as we lifted our boat out of the water.  He said naught but ‘Bonjour’, a strange and eldritch epithet from this odd hermit, I only hope one day scholars can work out what it meant, though I freely admit I hold no hope of this happening within my time.

Then we went to the supermarket and got burgers and cake!


Mike Buckley     More Photos………


03/08/12 Via Ferrata - Route 1, Chateau Guil Gorge - Day 14 Friday

After our leisurely paddle in the morning we headed back to the campsite to see what the crack was. Some people where heading into Briancon to do some shopping whilst others had headed to the lake to sunbathe on lilo's. Three of us decided that we hadn't quite finished thrill seeking and went into town to hire a harness so we could have a go at via ferrata. (Well one of us decided , and the other two fell in step or else we would have had to put up with Lucy sulking all night!).


 Harnesses acquired, Paul, Lucy and myself headed back to Chateau Queyras to tackle the gorge from a completely new angle. Having  never done any climbing of any kind at all , I was a little nervous but full of excitement as we stepped off the road and clipped onto the line. Lucy led the way with experienced climber Paul next and the complete novice bringing up the rear.  The feeling of clipping the crabs onto the metal cable is not only reassuring but also strangely satisfying, and after only a couple of minutes I was hooked. We traversed across south face of the gorge before crossing one of three rickety bridges, each with progressively wider steps, and gazed in awe at the River Guil as it funnelled its way through the gorge. It was hard to believe that only 24 hrs before we had been hurtling through the gorge in kayaks, as climbers watched on from above, (not that I saw anything of them of course as I was solely focused on staying alive at the time!). The water seemed to be running faster than it had the day before but again this is hard to judge because when you run it in a kayak you don't have the time to stare at the power of the current. (Probably a good thing to or you would never get in your boat!).


We traversed the gorge twice more, climbing for another hour, before heading straight up a tricky section with an overhang. Once clear of here we were on top of the gorge looking forty meters or so down to the river below. We had conquered the gorge, once by kayak and now by harness, and the feeling of satisfaction as we finally unclipped from the line was immense. We rewarded ourselves with a well deserved beer as we reflected on what we had achieved, in this particularly beautiful spot, over the last two days. 

Chris Murphy, Lucy Stuart and Paul Flaherty  More Photos……..


04/08/12 The Gyronde - Day 15 Saturday “In the shadow of Les Vigneaux”


The last day of the LCC 2012 Alps trip found most of the group with thoughts of leaving rather than a last trip down the Gyronde in low conditions. Even so, three of us were ready to squeeze the last moments of river running pleasure from the holiday. So it was that Keith, Stuart and I found ourselves at the campsite bridge get-in, thanks to Tony for driving us up there.


Despite the anticipated low level, the river was still entertaining and required concentration. A misjudged turn above a fallen tree gave me some valuable self-rescue practice and my dry cag its annual leak test. With me back on rather than in the river we carried on down, eddying in and out to make the most of the journey.


We approached the weir from the right channel to gain more water under the kayaks. The low conditions allowed us to shoot the weir on this occasion with either a small “boof” or slight right to left diagonal line.  We paddled on through to the confluence with the Durance and in no time at all we were working out way down the slalom course. Well, mainly Keith was working, trying for every gate down the course. And so, another year's LCC summer Alps paddling came to end just in time for breakfast and last minute packing.


Mark Benson     More Photos………


04/08/12 Via Ferrata - Route 2, L'Argentierre. (The Clock Face) - Day 15 Saturday

The next morning saw people break camp and start to get ready for a the long journey home. Whilst several people squeezed one last run of the Gyronde in, I managed to pursued Lucy to have one last climb before we gave our equipment back to the rental shop. It is fair to say that Lucy did not have the same enthusiasm for this second climb as she had shown the evening before. This however, had more to do with the late night beach party than an unwillingness to climb, and in fairness I felt very much the same. Steve dropped us at the base of the climb and putting our headaches and raging thirsts aside, we clipped on and started up.

This was a completely different climb than the previous evenings, in as much as it was straight up an exposed rock face with a difficult overhang. The climb tops out beneath the clock that dominates the view from the town of L'Argentiere. Our initial feeling of "this one will be easy" started to evaporate the father up we climbed as we realised just how high we were going and how exposed we where. As I led us up the face I also realised that the very easy handholds that we were presented with at the bottom of the climb, suddenly disappeared and each move needed more thought than the last. As a result of this I didn't hang around for much sight seeing and quickly found that we had reached the top. We followed the path back down to bottom feeling very pleased with ourselves until we came across some real rock climbers including two kids belaying one another very professionally. Ah well, maybe next year. We walked back through town to the campsite where we finally we had to admit that our adventure was over and packed the car for home.

Chris Murphy and Lucy Stuart

*(A via ferrate (Italian for "iron road") is a mountain route which is equipped with fixed cables, steeples, ladders, and bridges. The use of these allows otherwise isolated routes to be joined to create longer routes which are accessible to people with a wide range of climbing abilities. Walkers and climbers can follow vie ferrate without needing to use their own ropes and belays, and without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing.) -Wikipedia



Keith S, Dominic Buckley, Michael Buckley, Helen Siertsema, Anthony Vaccaro, Mark Benson, Marianne Davey, Emily Benson, Mark Garrod,  Chris Murphy, Steve Hitchin, Lucy Stuart, Roy McHale, Fiona Wrigg, Andy Wrigg, Sara Gille, Stuart Toulson, Kurt Toulson, Kathryn Wilson, Darren Bohanna, Sven Till, Tom Morris, Will McCormack , Ben Nuttall, Olivia Rowe,    All the photographs………..


The full report of all the rivers paddle can be found by clicking this link or in the Major Trip reports…………….



23/10/12 Stanley Embankment Sat 20th October

11 LCC members rocked up to the Stanley Embankment on Saturday to tear up the play wave. Most of us arrived in sensible playboats, some brought their big Pyranha Burns ( just in case!!!) and Paul Harwood brought a silly looking thing that you had to kneel in. I think he called it a canoe. He also used a paddle that was chopped in half and only had one blade!!!!


Stanley is a great play wave that builds up as the tide gets higher. We got on the wave nice and early and got a feel for it as it built up. Paul in his canoe got chewed up and spat out and was our first swimmer of the day living up to his title of swimmer of the year 2012!! Roy, in a playboat for the first time, also took a swim as I think he is trying to win the 2013 swimmer award because he does not believe he can win paddler of the year 2 years running! It was some peoples first time at Stanley. Steve and Adam did really well as did Jenny and Chris before they set off to Four Mile Bridge to develop those skills further. Young Nathan was with us, showing off his tricks as always and providing us with expert tips. I think everyone developed their skills and left having made good progress. Roy, Paul, Mark and I started linking a few moves together with the help of Nathan's coaching.


The last word though needs to go to Paul Harwood. Having swam on his first attempt in his canoe he sat on the side for some time contemplating his next move. He finally jumped back in and repeatedly carved across the wave with a great deal of control and skill. He even threw in a few rolls to round things off. Good skills but I am yet to be convinced about jumping in one!!!


 Great day - thanks to everyone who came.


Ps. We stayed overnight on Anglesey with a view to surfing on the Sunday but none materialised. The only other things worth noting were the miniature pony that managed to make it into our kitchen on the Saturday night and the AA call out for a damsel in distress!!!     


Andy   More Photos……………        Youtube Video…………..



20/10/12 Liverpool Canoe Club paddlers on the BBC TV show “Don't Tell the Bride”

Does any recognise these Liverpool Canoe Club Paddlers on the BBC TV show “Don't Tell the Bride” that aired this week.

I recognise some of the kayaks but not the paddlers!

It is only the briefest of glimpses but you can try and view it on BBC Iplayer

Don't Tell the Bride - Series 6- 10. Terry and Melissa 41 mins 31 Seconds





19/10/12 Mersey Descent Canoe Race. 14 October 2012


The race was blessed by rain in the days beforehand and a frost and sun on the day. This meant it was good to paddle and good to watch. The river was running fast but not so high as to make Northenden Weir a portage, so we were expecting the 1 hour barrier to be broken.


The weather attracted 32 paddlers for the race and 40 paddlers for the accompanying mini tour, from as far as Lincoln and Worcester. The latter is significant. The race had previously attracted local heroes, but this time a stranger rode into town. Well, not a stranger. Stuart also came to Cheshire in midsummer and slashed the record for the solo Cheshire Ring Race.

Now he and Dave Pedlar were attacking the Descent K2 record. And they succeeded, knocking off over 6 minutes. Afterwards Stuart said “Great race, really enjoyed it and will be recommending it to friends. I'm now intrigued to see what it is like at more normal water levels, maybe next year.”


There were also records broken in the K1, WW Racer and Touring Canoe classes.


We will be running the race and tour again in 13th October 2013, visit http://madcc.btck.co.uk/MerseyDescent for details nearer the time.


The 9.2 mile section of the river used for the race has one sloping weir and a dozen rubble weirs, this is part of the 18 mile Mersey Canoe Trail which is open every day. Details can be found in the web.


Thanks to the competitors and everyone who helped. The hospitality of Burnage Rugby Club at the start and Trafford Metrovick Rugby Club at the end was very welcome.


 The detail results are as follows.

                                                                                    Club                Time

K2       Racing double Kayak             

1st        Stuart West & David Pedlar                             Worcester        53m26s New record

2nd      Maggie Dilai & Jenny Illidge                           Runcorn           59m06s

3rd       Richard Millar & Laurence Garton             Nottingham KC     59m15s

4th        Adrian Fisher & Ned Price                               Macclesfield    61m 42s

5th        Gary Carter & Steve Gardner                           Lincoln            62m 11s


K1       Racing single kayak              

1st        Jamie Mayers                                                   Runcorn           58m 25s New record

2nd        Jonathan O’Grady                                           Runcorn           61m 19s

3rd        Rod Steele                                                       Macclesfield    61m 40s

4th        Alastair Randall                                             Liverpool CC  66m 37s

5th        Archie Miles                                                    Lincoln            68m 23s

6th       John Mc Carrol                                                                        95m 03s

7th        Sam Woolley (J)                                              Manchester      114m 44s

8th        Nicholas Woolley                                            Manchester      115m 00s


WWR  White water racing kayak      

1st        Michael Fitzsimons                                          Mercia             62m 48s New record

2nd        Richard Moss                                                   Manchester      69m 04s

3rd        Simon Gelder                                                   Chester            74m 14s

4th        Jane Millar                                                 Nottingham KC      84m 48s

5th        Colin James                                                    Liverpool CC  86m 10s


Touring open canoe

1st        Colin Smith                                                     Liverpool CC  77m 03s New record

2nd        Stewart Stobbs                                                                         90m 59s

3rd        Sean, Robbie & Joseph Jesson                        Manchester      91m 17s

4th        Simon Nixon & Peter Rushworth                     Runcorn           96m 19s

5th        Joanna Sweet & Matthew Hailwood                Bolton              106m 01s

6th        Gareth Smith                                                    Bolton              113m 58s

16/10/12 4 Star Sea Training 13th &14th October 2012 with Nick Cunliffe

Nos venit, nos philologus, nos palus.

Text Box:  
Oi Kirk! Leave that boat alone.

We came, we learned, we swam.


4 star sea training this weekend was great fun. As you would expect, we turned up confused, learned interesting and vital stuff all day, went for a curry, turned up again the next day and swam a lot.

Day one was a cracking trip from Porth Dafarch around to Abrahams Bosom and back with great fun in Penrhyn Mawr, until it got over 2 knots and thus out of remit. Special mention must go to Kirk for kindly allowing Mark to demonstrate a rescue and the perils of post prandial rafting [From Latin prandium, late breakfast].


Special mention also goes to Ruth for providing Mike with a homemade cake with which to raise the bar on paddling trips. There has been a recent spate of cake bringing on sea trips, and this latest development and refinement of the sport is most welcome.


A good coach can always come up with a good curry house and a fine evening was had by the class in Holyhead. No, really!

Day two started with a full breakfast, served by Mark from the Dogs home motor home. Yes really, a paddling bus designed around two large beautiful dogs, or rather their cages.


Day two ended up a little bit too calm for what we needed (there’s not many times you can say that). We landed on Rhoscolyn Beacon for lunch, and because we were quiet, the seal choir sang to us - Magical.  Because day two was below the standard of roughness required Nick offered us an extra day next time it’s bumpy enough. Good or what?     Adrian Mould

Finally, I get a photo that looks a bit bouncy….


This a sea kayak and more advanced stuff.


Lunch with the singing seals.



16/10/12 4 Star Sea Training (Take 2)

After the resounding success of the first 4 star training event with Nick Cunliffe (Kayak Essentials), 6 LCC members met Nick in Sea to Summit’s car park on Anglesey to undertake the training.

Mark Pawley kindly provided hot drinks in the back of his superbly converted van at the beginning of the day, suitably refreshed we decamped into the shop to discuss the plans for the weekend (training to become safer trip leaders) and how we would go about that. First things first, how does the tide operate around Anglesey, what time the tide races operate in the area and what the weather forecast is. Then its straight into initial planning of where we should go today – as a group we proposed heading from Treadur Bay area towards South Stack, and it was eventually decided that we would paddle from Porth Daffach to Abrahams Bosom and back. This would allow conditions suitable for the training, and a nice paddle to boot.


Kitted up and on the water we reviewed various styles of leadership and organisation to make a trip successful for the available group. Then it was off through some fun conditions, sneaking through the Chicken Shute around the Penrhyn Mawr tide race before surfing into Abrahams Bosom for lunch.  Fully fuelled, it was time for more tide planning to ensure we would be able to get back against the flood to the start. Then it was back on the water for more leadership training, towing and then playing in Penrhyn Mawr. Superb!


Back at the beach and it was time for tea and cake, cheers Ruth, before getting the most important facts sorted. Where we were camping, where we were meeting tomorrow and where did the best Curry! (beside the Lidl in Holyhead)


After a great night, we ended up gate crashing a wedding, we woke to find Mark very kindly preparing breakfast for us all in his van. What a guy! And then headed off to have more fun at Rhoscolyn.

With Nick absolutely full of cold and conditions not testing enough to allow realistic testing of skills, we did more towing, evaluations, self rescues, close quarter boat control, and landings in awkward places. Nick kindly offered to do an extra day later in the year to allow for the limitations of the day, and his kind offer was much appreciated.

After that, we called it a day and headed home. Top weekend!

Vicky, Paul, Ade, Pete, Kirk & Mike


Shinny happy people…

Here I am stuck in the middle…



16/10/12 Sea Kayaking the Island of Bute - October 2012.


The Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was the one who said ‘That which does not kill you makes you stronger.’

Bob was due to do the write up and to claim a LCC first circumnavigation of Bute by Sit on top…. but he’s too knackered to lift finger to keyboard. So it’s history written by the victors, Awww yes. (two different Churchill quotes…)


The killing versus strengthening was never in doubt, but perhaps the comfort zone was shifted slightly.  Way back when I mooted a 4 day weekend around Bute or the inner Clyde with the door open to novices to have a crack at a short Sea Kayaking trip without the big step up into the big leagues and commitment that a week away requires.  Not being a coach, or even having a single star, I specified a maximum of 6, 2 good, 3 bad, and 1ugly(me). That was to get any situation stamped upon before it could escalate into a mess.   An excellent response was generated, but a bit of a family crisis put the date back to October, then circumstances reduced us to 3 with only hours to go.  This actually worked very well reducing vehicles to one and decisions to an easy majority vote.


Day one began with a superb breakfast with imported black pudding featuring amongst the culinary highlights at Marks house. I think he’ll prove a very popular passenger on future Scottish trips….

Now Bute for beginners requires 2 ferries, both of which cease running for the night before a party of paddlers could reasonably reach them from the Liverpool area after work. So we checked out the alternative road route on the mainland. This took way too long to build into a practicable alternative plan. But the idea was to see if it was going to be possible to condense Bute into a 3 day weekend for future trips.

Anyway, we arrived in Colintravie, took the ferry across the West Kyle of Bute and proceeded to the Bunk house and the curry house. Beware the price of the rice at the Chinese restaurant…


Day 2 saw a return to Rubodach where we packed the boats and left the van.

The sea kayakers addiction, leaving shore loaded, destination undecided, sun on front, wind on back, rolling green hills, clear blue seas, all weekend ahead and an unexpected high replacing the procession of dispiriting Atlantic lows of summer and autumn. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………………….h……………h………


A gentle breeze blew us down the East Kyle as we espoused the virtues of a slow and gentle start to warm up the muscles.

There always has to be something wrong in paradise, and in this case it was yachtties motor sailing instead of sailing. Well it seemed to annoy Mark, so that has to qualify as our fly in the ointment on a perfect autumn morning. I guess it was something to do with their horizon being about 2.5 metres up so they could see the patches of fitful calm in the narrowing Kyle. We, however, put it down to the old joke, Q? What do yachtiies have on a Saturday morning? A. A hangover.


Happy and allegedly hung over yachties not withstanding, we passed down the coast to indulge in a bit of ferry dodging before lunch. Many locals passed by on a charity walk and we passed the time amicably chatting about the unseasonably warm weather for early June, erm, October.  We carried on southwards crossing Kilchattan bay with a strengthening and cooling offshore breeze that brought the differences in boat design out. The sort of Breeze that could be handled by a thorough bred sea boat with the occasional cant to one side required a course correction of 70 degrees to ferry glide across the bay to a lovely clean public loo and a closed down pub. We headed a little further south and camped in on the first beach that we didn’t have to share with shaggy coos. 26km for the day.

After dinner Mark formulated a plan that involved visiting the lighthouse to the south first, then visiting the pub to the far, far north second. A linear walk passing through our campsite. Bob was most disgruntled to find the path South was not in fact the one to the pub. Lighthouse south, pub north, tents in the middle, all in the dark. There was very nearly some swearing……

The journey to the pub was not uneventful, Marks knowledge of heavenly bodies was appreciated, and we saw the milky way, some shooting stars, several constellations, and by monocular, a smudgy stain that is the grand and mighty galaxy of Andromeda, sister to our own dear galaxy. Perhaps in a galaxy far, far away they put their pubs closer to the beach.

Day 3 dawned cold, clear and windless several hours after we got up. Slack time had been built into the plan and day 2 is always a difficult packing day and this day two proved no different. Our wait on the beach proved a blessing in disguise as we rounded the Southern end of Bute, passing the lighthouse of Rubh’ an Eun in sunshine. Garroch head hove into sight to the southwest, as did Ailsa Craig, Arran and the Mull of Kintyre (Que out of tune singing…) all being scoured into glorious autumn colour by the sunshine.


As the compass swung north it became clear a long held, oft thwarted ambition would be fulfilled this day. Inchmarnock, bane of spellchecker and a fantastic lunch spot to the west of Arran. Arran looked like it could within be touching distance, not five hours away.


One of the key aspects to sea touring is passage planning and it is often critical to time back from a destination. So with a good bit of relentless slogging coming Bobs way, he played his trump card, a crab claw sail. This allowed him to keep a good cruising pace up on the 6 km crossing northwards to Bute.  Fickle mistress is the wind and after afternoon tea break, the fitful force 1-2 wind died, but not before it gave me new perspective on the idea of sailing a sea kayak. Once the wind died, we took taught Bob wash hanging. This proved to be a successful way of covering the ground. I borrowed Marks Greenland stick as a way of slowing me down as draft horse, but since Greenland sticks promote good trunk rotation….


Anyway, the Nordy took over draft horse duties and I gambolled on and off the front like an unruly puppy. Thus the beautiful West Kyle of Bute, with its rare wild goats, passed by with focus upon a toggle and a gap. Camp plan A was occupied already, so we pushed on towards the plan B campsite as the Pagan Maids of Bute resolutely ignored us just as they ignore all men.  The beautiful Burnt Isles passed by with very little tide in the softening light.

By jinkies! The shaggy coos were on Camp B with their bairns! This rather bug a lugged our plan B, so plan C (as in car) was brought into play and we carried on the quarter mile back to the van. Day 3 ended up at 36 km. Quite a feat on a SOT. Take a bow, Bob.


Day 4 and we came back (again) to Rhubodach for a look at Loch Riddon or Loch Ruel. This had always been in the plan as a short weatherproof day but today we had the triple pleasure of empty boats, bright sunshine and remarkable reflections.

The clear water afforded spectacular views of the marine flora and fauna. Sadly there are no photos of the spectacular, sponges, sea anemones and huge spiny starfish because some ominous bubbles started coming out of the camera as it was plunged underwater.

All weekend we had the occasional company of the seaplane that takes tourists from Loch Lomond on flights over Bute and beyond, but on this un-bleak, sun drenched Monday morning we were joined by the boys or perhaps girls of the RAF as they pootled northwards up the West Kyle and past us up Loch Ruel in a Hercules at pretty low level. Spectacular pose guys…. 

Another point of interest in the Kyles, just North of the Burnt Islands are the statues of Caol Ruadh, these are a small group of statues on the beach in the way of Anthony Gormleys metal men, but these guys, girls and sea creatures are flat and polished to a mirror finish. They provide a spectacular perspective on, er… I’m not really sure, but I like them so I’ll be attempting to time a return visit for high water when the tide laps around their feet, tripling the scope for introspective reflection. Although I think it would be all to easy to swamp their magic with a large party of visitors.

They are only a few yards from a miniature deserted model village, also tide washed and thought provoking, but in an empty head like mine, probably wasted.  On the short paddle back through the Burnt Isles, the ferry, Loch Dunvegan, let off an orange smoke distress flare. I can attest that commercial flares produce a great deal of smoke. We proceeded southwards with caution, but felt that as the ferry was already aground at its ramp, we would be able to offer relatively little assistance.


So we packed up, caught the same ferry, and gently enquired as to the cause of the flare going off and found it to have been a false alarm. The trip back to Glasgow was taken via the Gurrock- Hunters Quay ferry, and on mentioning I knew the way back from Dunoon, the snores immediately commenced and hardly stopped until someone phoned Bob just north of Carlisle. So a successful trip was had, wound up with Mark feeding us (thanks Eileen) once again on the way home.

So the point of the trip was to provide a bridge between the big leagues of the high commitment weeks away and the beginners. 

So what did the sea kayaking newbie’s learn? Nothing, because they didn’t turn up. But Bob turned up and had a crack, so I’ll give some thoughts to touring with a Sit on Top (SOT).

I was determined to keep the trip open to relative novices provided my safety ratios were met. So a Sit on Top intrigued me rather than worried me. I’d already seen Bob produce a nearly 8km/h pace after a 9 mile portage to the Hilbre race the previous weekend, so I figured rightly he was strong enough for us both to learn something.


But SOTs are not efficient, (as opposed to skis) denying the paddler the use of the bigger muscle groups in the lower body, therefore working a smaller range of muscles much harder. They are also naturally slower and the paddler, on passage, will be running the arm muscles much closer to the anaerobic threshold than would a sea kayaker. But the sail was a revelation, as was the wash hanging.  I’m guessing SOTs will always be the ugly sister on a trip, at least until Aled turns his attentions to a narrow wasted SOT with a vee keel that would corner like a bicycle and let the paddler use their entire body for the stroke…


On this trip I imposed strict dead lines on darkness and being October in the middle of bout of Atlantic lows we kept on going whilst the going was good. We took a vehicle onto the island to make a bale out as easy as possible.  Bute for a season bookend is a workable proposition for a 4 day weekend.


Paddlers were Bob Giles, Mark Pawley, and myself Adrian Mould.   Nice one boys.

15/10/12 River Tryweryn - 14th October


A last minute decision to paddle on Sunday saw some of the usual crew head for the rivers.  It seems that many of us had similar ideas with the Tryweryn releasing on an 11 cumecs.  Chris Scullion, Nick, Greg and Peter were on the river, along with Tolly, Dom and the Liverpool University group.  Chris, Sam, Justin and Roy together with Andy, Lucy and Paul all met at the Tryweryn to paddle.


Much fun was had around the Café wave with Roy rolling in the stopper to the delight of the crowd.  More Photos…………


15/10/12 River Kent in spate

It seems that a group of paddlers from the club headed for the River Kent a couple of weeks ago during the rainy season.  This is the photo of Roy on force falls, the bottom drop of the river.  It looks enormous.  Andy Wrigg, Adam Carey, Roy McHale, Paul Flaherty, Chris Murphy and Keith Scott at River Kent.



15/10/12 Hilbre Paddle - 14th October


It seems that my early morning muster, talk of fog and mud, together with threats of Liverpool Marathon traffic jams might have put most people off this trip. Those that did show up on the West Kirby slipway were treated to a really still and beautiful autumn morning with a layer of mist covering parts of the Dee.


After waiting for the water for what seemed like ages it finally floated our boats almost 25 minutes later than I expected it to (note to self – must read Jim Krawiecki & Andy Biggs book – “Welsh Sea Kayaking ~ Fifty Great Sea Kayaking Voyages” more carefully. I could have sworn they suggest that the tide usually reaches the slipway 2 hours 20 minutes before Liverpool HW. Never mind! I didn’t really need those extra 25 minutes in bed.


Five of us headed off in the early morning sun, Peter Massey, Paul and Harvey Hilbre-Harwood in their open boat, and Carole and me. Reaching Hilbre, Paul and Harvey split off and headed for the beach as they were on a mission to get the stove working to produce yummy sausage butties in time for when we three sea paddlers returned from paddling in the overfalls at the north of the island. The best thing about the Hilbre paddle is that it’s never the same twice. Conditions are always surprising in places and its always worth doing as long as it isn’t blowing an absolute hooligan. Surviving the overfalls, the three of us could smell the sausages sizzling in Paul’s pan on the beach. Turning the corner and hopping out of our kayaks with our mouth’s watering, Paul revealed that he had forgotten his pan. He had the stove, the bread and the sausages but nothing to cook them in. Oh well! Been trying to lose weight anyway L


 Returning to West Kirby the wind began to fill in behind us and we were treated to a fantastic rainbow against a leaden sky. It even started to hail for a while. Winter is definitely only spitting distance away now but it was great to be on the water once again before it begins to turn really cold. Even West Kirby IRB showed up to say hello and ask if we were OK as the bow wave from their fast moving rib made Paul’s open boat wobble a bit. They were on an exercise and, when their outboard motor hit the sand briefly, one of them jumped out to allow the rib to get off the sand bank. It was odd to see him standing high and dry but surrounded by so much water!


Before we got out at the slipway it was time for a bit of wet work and while I demonstrated just how naff I am at rolling, Paul managed quite a tidy open boat roll.


Great little trip and I hope more people sign up for it next time. No doubt Karl, LCC Volunteer of the Year 2012, will run it again soon in his usual skilful fashion and persuade you all to get on the water.


Pete Thomas LCC Volunteer of the Year 2012 [runner up :- )]       More Photos……                Video of Paul Rolling his open canoe……




13/10/12 Polo Pitch and goals revamped.


Many thanks to Roy, Justin, Keith, Lucy and Chris for totally revamping the polo goals and nets at the club today.  They have new, stronger nets, been painted with hammerite and now have florescent yellow tape around the goal frame.  We also glued and taped all of the plastic polo kayaks.  The new polo buoyancy aids have arrived for our new C team.  The Club has plenty of paddling kit if you would like to try canoe polo


WE ARE STILL PADDLING ON MONDAY EVENING FROM 6:30PM AT THE DOCKS – we have two new goals which we will hang in Dukes Dock under the light if the Liverpool wheel.  They all look good.  See you there.



More information on canoe polo from the disciplines pages on the site………..





13/10/12 Youth Freestyle Series

The youth freestyle competition is open to anyone under 18 who is competent on whitewater.  There are four competitions each year with the top 3 scores taken for the final placing in September. This is my first season at freestyle and I'm gradually getting used to the competition now having previously competed in slalom (freestyle is a lot more fun). My best competition this year was at Nottingham where I came fifth in the under 18s overall.  Over the whole year I came 8th for the under 18`s this season, not bad for my first season! To find out more info Google youth freestyle series http://www.youthfreestyle.co.uk/


When are we next paddling!?! Nathan


The series final took place this weekend at the White water course in Nottingham some great rides where thrown together by the junior paddlers as well as the usual Youth Freestyle carnage !


Youth Freestyle series - Nottingham from Freestyle.inc on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/50082810 video of the last competition at Nottingham





11/10/12 Liverpool Canoe Club AGM and Awards Ceremony

Over 60 people attended this year’s AGM.  We heard reports from the Chair, Treasurer and each of the discipline representatives.  Fiona, our new chair and ambassador of the club presented the 2012 Paddler of the year Awards.  Click here for more details…….


Dom Buckley stood down as chair of the club after steering the club over the past three years, including coordinating our Top Club bid.  Dinny Davies and Chris Turner also stood down as Canoe Polo and Open Boat Representatives after 3 years of sterling service.  We warmly welcome Fiona Wrigg, Darren Bohanna and Paul Harwood who have volunteered to follow their footsteps.

After a short break and buffet Chris Murphy presented the word premier of the Alps 2012 DVD.  We hope to make copies of this available shortly.


The minutes of the meeting…….    (Available shortly)



2013 Awards – Please send any nominations to website@liverpoolcanoeclub.co.uk


Paddler of the Year

Junior of the Year

Volunteer of the Year

Swimmer of the Year


Roy McHale has been a very active member of the club over the past year, both at the mid-week evening sessions and most weekends. He's always enthusiastic and very helpful, and shortly after the club Alps trip went on a trip to Siberia involving long walk-ins and challenging rapids.

Ollie Murphy
is one of our youngest paddlers on a Tuesday night but makes good use of his junior paddle and Dagger Dynamo Kayak.  He regularly paddles to Albert Dock and back with the others.

Karl Tatum has almost single-handedly kept the Thursday evening paddles going over the winter months.  He regularly organises surfing sessions at Crosby and the now almost monthly trips around Hilbre Island which are enjoyed by everyone. Most of all he is always encouraging new members and looking after them when they get on the water.

Paul Harwood Anyone who has paddled with Paul knows he always brings his little canoe which he uses more as a hat than a boat when in the water.  If you're unsure then please watch the video………


Paul Flaherty, Katherine Wilson, Andy Wrigg

Jack Gille, Bradley Tattum

Chris Benson, Steve Hitchen, Pete Thomas

Paul Flaherty, Steve Hitchen, Justin Cooper, Karl Tattum, Andy Wrigg, Keith Scott, Chris Murphy



11/10/12 Liverpool Canoe Club Coniston Trip - 6th to 7th October 2012 (With apologies to Arthur Ransome)





There was very little room in the canoe when they had finished loading her at the little shingle beach by Machell`s Coppice. Under the aft thwart was a big tin box with the books and the writing paper and the other things that had to be kept dry, like night-clothes. Underneath the forward thwart were large biscuit tins, with bread, tea, sugar, salt, biscuits, tins of corned beef, tins of sardines, a lot of eggs, each one wrapped separately for  fear of smashes and a big seed cake. Then there were the two ground sheets, in which were rolled up the tents, each with the rope that belonged to it. The whole of the space that was left in the bottom of the boat was filled by two big sacks stuffed with blankets and rugs. Besides all these there were the things that could not be packed at all but had to go loose, wedged in anyhow, things like the saucepan, and frying pan and kettle. 'We shall have to make two trips of it', said the Captain, 'or three!', said the Mate.


And so began the voyage to the island of one craft in Liverpool Canoe Club's annual armada to Peel Island, known to some as Wildcat Island, which lies in the southern most reaches of Coniston Water.


Far away down the lake the island showed. It seemed further than it had when first viewed but the plucky little armada of canoes and kayaks swung out from the beach and steered straight for it. The wind was steady, though light, and on the whole the party was glad there was no more of it on this evening voyage in their heavily laden craft. After a stiff paddle of two miles or so past the many promontories of the eastern shore, the island came into clear view. With its steep rocky sides and cover of trees there looked to be no place to land comfortably, let alone camp. But the knowledgeable of the party knew of the hidden harbour to the southern end and it was to there that the boats were headed.

On coming ashore those for whom it was their first visit set about exploring. Those who had been before knew that the first thing to do was to find the best place for their camp! All spent that evening around the campfire, with their rations slowly cooking upon it, and made their plans for the following day in the gathering darkness. Most were soon ready for their slumber and, after a time star gazing from the rocky southern tip of the island in the still and clear night, the camp fell silent. All were content in their bivouacs and tents and excited at the prospect of the coming day.


Sunday began cold and damp, but still and silent with the island surrounded by a blanket of fog and a lake like glass. After a hasty breakfast and packing the party was soon back on the water by which time the sun had come out and burned off the mist and fog to leave a clear blue sky and perfect autumn day. After a short trip to a local public convenience at the foot of Blawith Fells the happy boaters embarked on a leisurely tour of the western shores, heading north towards where they had come the previous evening, this time along the opposite shore. In perfect conditions the group spent several hours exploring the shoreline, paddling past Thrang Crag Wood, Oxen House Bay, Sunny Bank, Torver Back Common and Moor Gill Foot until, on reaching Hoathwaite Landing they were once again in sight of Machell Coppice on the opposite bank and, sadly, the route back to reality!




Martin McCoy -  Lucas McCoy and Justin McCoy, Tony Doyle Tony Rose, Sarah Gille, Jack Gille, Tony Bennet, Chris Fletcher, Keith S, Ste Bond, Regan Bond, Peter Massey, Jake Massey, Avril Banks, Steven Bond (Coach), Reece


More Photos…..

Peel Island Camp – Coniston – More information……

01/10/12 October 2012 Newsletter Published
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