Volume 15 Issue 5

May 2015

May Paddler
The monthly newsletter of Liverpool Canoe Club

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News items or reports on club activities should be sent to website@liverpoolcanoeclub.co.uk

 

Archived Newsletters… 
Major Trip Reports.…

 

29/04/15 Major dates for Club events – for more detail check the online Club Calendar…….

1-4 May 2015

5 May 2015

15-17 May  2015

16  May  2015

6 -7 June 2015

14  June  2015

19-21 June 2015

26 June – 6th July 2015

5 July 2015

10-12 July 2015

26 July 2015

17 July–2 August 2015

25-27 September 2015
13-20 February 2016

Pembroke Weekend (First Bank Holiday)    Coordinator Jenny Brown
Junior Club starts outside for the season at the Docks (Tuesday Junior Club)  
Coordinator Chris Murphy

Anglesey Weekend 1 (Tyn Rhos Trearddur Bay)    Coordinator Peter Massey

Sea Kayak 3 Star Assessment  Please read the syllabus – must be able to roll Coordinator Keith Steer

Liverpool International Canoe Polo Tournament (We will be entering Ladies, Junior and fun teams) Contact website@liverpoolcanoeclub.co.uk if interested

BCU Lifeguards Swim Event Safety Award (SESA) - Tutor Ian Bell & Keith S

Anglesey Weekend 2 (Pen-y-Bont Farm, 4 Mile Bridge)    Coordinator Keith S

Lofoten Island Sea Kayak trip (Norway)    Coordinator Andrew Garland

Hilbre Island Sea Kayak Race & Club BBQ Clubs major annual Sea Kayaking Event.  Click for more.........

Anglesey Weekend 3 (Bodfan Farm, Rhosneigr)    Coordinator Jenny Brown

Liverpool Triathlon Volunteers for Safety Kayakers and bank team required

Alpine Paddling Holiday Week 1 Bovec, Slovenia, Week 2 Briancon, France.  Coordinator Keith S

Anglesey Weekend 4 (Outdoor Alternative Rhoscolyn)    Coordinator Peter Massey

Skiing and Snowboarding trip - France.  Coordinator Pete Thomas

 

29/04/15 “Photo of the Month” Competition

 

Liverpool Canoe Club Photo Competition Winners


Congratulations to Sarah Gille for her winning photo:

“John Cooke`s infamous (headfirst and backwards) descent of “right angle falls” in Glen Etive – Scottish Easter Trip”

 

Runner up Keith S:

“A spot of knitting on the Easter Costa Brava trip”

Runner up  Christine Fay:

“Headstands on the new SUPs over Easter Weekend”

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


Criteria for the photo of the month competition…. 25 % Quality and sharpness of the photograph, 25% Quirkiness and framing of the subject,
25% Diversity of the subject material (ie not all one discipline), 25% has LCC logo or clothing in the shot.


29/04/15 Tuesday Evening Junior Club now moves outside to the Docks for the summer

 

All winter we have been running the junior club at Broadgreen pool on a Tuesday.  Steven Bond and his helpers have done a fantastic job and many youngsters have learned to roll and gain confidence in the school pool.  Last night we moved all the junior boats and paddles down to the docks and starting next Tuesday (6:30 to 8:30pm) we will run the junior club outside.  We always provide a coach to run the session but welcome parents to paddle with the group to help out.  As a club member you do not need to book this session – you just turn up and paddle.

 

The youngsters paddle as a group choosing whichever boat(s) they feel more comfortable in.  As the water is still cold at this time of year they need to be well dressed with suitable footwear.  A windproof jacket is needed (or a paddling jacket).  Buoyancy aids, spraydecks and paddles are all available from the club store.

 

Guidelines on using the docks (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday)

  • All sessions must be on the club calendar, all groups must be competent to rescue in the deep water
  • Never push the main gate – it needs an electronic swipe card to operate (click here for more info…….)
    You should always write you name on the board on the shed (and cross it out when you get off the water)
  • Do not leave anything in the shed – clothes etc should be locked into a car boot.
  • Do not move footrests etc unless absolutely necessary – certainly replace all fixings immediately
  • Do not block any pontoon when waiting to get on.  Please use the small access platform below the walkway onto the pontoons.
  • Keep away from and do not touch any moored boat – people live onboard.
  • Please return everything when finished and help to lock up the boats and equipment.
  • All buoyancy aids MUST have their zips fastened to stop them falling off the hangers
  • Please be careful in the changing rooms to keep water off the floor when showering.

 

28/04/15 River Wye Canoe and Kayak Tour

 

It was a pleasant sunny Friday afternoon that saw intrepid teams of LCC paddlers heading south towards Hereford for a weekend of gentle paddling on the River Wye. Carl, our trusted leader, had journeyed down on Thursday with his wife and caravan and was well established as the rest of us gathered through the evening and set up camp at Lucksall Caravan and Camping Park right on the river in Mordiford.  The site has a half descent licensed cafe that provided sustenance for the weary travellers. Over the cause of the evening a plan was hatched for the following morning, shuttle the boats to a rowing club to launch from there and paddle downstream back to the camp site for lunch.

 

Saturday morning had us up, breakfasted and eager to get underway, which began with a convoy of cars heading towards Hereford Rowing Club and our put-in about eight miles upstream of our camp, then drop off our boats and shuttling the cars back to the campsite and paddlers back to the put-in to incur just one hefty parking fee.

 

We must have looked a motley crew with 4 tourers, 1 play boat, 1 open and 1 sea boat (and a glass one at that) to the gathering number of eagle eyed racing snakes who seemed to just step into their racing machines and glide away as we got onto the water with only one slight mishap that Darren failed to catch on camera before Steve was safely secure in his cockpit. Paddling technique is obviously something instilled in the racing snakes from an early age but we didn’t let them steal our own, more interesting individual styles, as by the time we dipped our paddles in the water, fortunately we had drifted down stream on the flow.

 

The River Wye is a slow meandering river through the sections we were to paddle and is pretty shallow particularly with the low levels we encountered, giving rise to some white-water obstacles (for a glass sea boat anyway). The general consensus was that this river really lends itself to opens or plastic tourers, something to bear in mind.

 

Anyway, our first obstacle came soon after the start around a bend, a line of tumbling water over a line of boulders that stretched across the river. Paul and Darren took the lead and found a route through for me to avoid a wreck at the first hurdle, or was it just to cover the camera angles? Either way they safely guided me thought a gap, with only a couple of knocks into the calmer water beyond. So the day continues with stretches of flat water interspersed with sections of rumbles, shallows or the odd obstacle. At one point where the river seemed blocked by stones a way was found close to the left bank through which everyone passed except Steve, who ended up stranded in the shallows and forced to get out and walk while Caroline snapped away and the others put prices on the negatives until helped by Mathew to regain his cockpit. As we paddled downstream, we left the urban area behind and paddled out into the more pleasant countryside with its birds, ducks and oodles of swans that looked at us with distain as we passed. Around lunchtime we arrived back at our camp and the pontoon near to our tents. I say pontoon but it was more like partly deflated airbed that almost caught Carl out, almost sending him for a early bath.

 

By the time we had retrieved the car and had lunch and lolled about in the sunshine for a bit, we felt it was too late to continue with our planned next eight mile section. So instead opted for a bit of sightseeing and headed to ‘Symonds Yat’ while exploring some of the countryside on route. ‘Symonds Yat’ is a wonderful place, tucked into the mouth of a gorge and bustling with visitors and paddlers in the myriad of hire canoes and of course the rapid, not as spectacular as I expected but not something for a sea boat to run but still well worth a visit and an end to a great day.

 

After a night of rain and plummeting temperatures, the team awoke cold and damp with thought of abandonment after a full English and heading for home but it had stopped raining. With the camp packed away and the weather showing signs of improvement, boats were packed and cars shuttled to a riverside campsite in Hoarwithy and drivers returned to be reunited with their boats. Slipping into the river as the sun came out we paddled downstream passing through some lovely countryside with a bit more flow under us due to the previous night’s rain, taking the odd rumble and some very shallow stretches in our stride as we just enjoyed the day. At one point the river split around an island leaving two narrow openings, the first at the top giving a short drop and taking part of the river was taken by John and Mathew in their open without a problem. The second at the bottom of the island and taking the bulk of the flow looked a little more serious as we approached but Darren sussed it out and lead the rest through to take up station with cameras aimed for the expected photo call as I surged through with words of ‘keep paddling’ ringing in my ears. But as with all good things, all too soon we reached our get-out and the end of a great weekend. Good weather, nice paddling, great countryside and fantastic company.

 

The Team.

 

Paddlers:  Carl Leungsangnam, Darren Hale, Steve Gille, John Pegram, Matt Pegram, Caroline and others are just back from touring on the River Wyre  More photos……


27/04/15 BCU White Water Safety and Rescue Course – River Dee 25th / 26th April

 

Six LCC paddlers successfully completed their BCU White Water Safety and Rescue course http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/media/pdf/WWSR%20Syllabus.pdf  held for two action-packed days over last weekend on the Dee between Horseshoe Falls and Mile End Mill in Llangollen. http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/rivers/wales/north/river-dee-horseshoe-falls-to-llangollen-town-weir

 

The course was run by Andy Grimes who owns and manages Fluid Combinations http://www.fluidcombinations.co.uk/ a specialist coaching outfit that runs a wide variety of skills and training courses, assessments and trips in the UK and further afield. Andy is known to many in LCC and comes across, not just as an enthusiastic, well-informed and highly skilful coach, he’s also a nice bloke with a great ability to communicate clearly and affectively. He obviously enjoys his job and he’s good at it!

 

After a short briefing at Mile End Mill on Saturday morning, we all drove up to the car park above Horseshoe Falls and got ourselves ready to get on the water. The day was a little bit showery and there was an occasional chill wind blowing, just enough to cut through my drysuit and two layers of thermals. I for one was glad we didn’t push for a course held in the depths of winter and I wondered what the water temperature was going to be like for our wet sessions.  Huddled around one of the sculptured wood tables near the carpark, the course continued with discussions about various aspects of the syllabus. Before long, we were heading down to the river where we got on and had a warm-up session just to get our bodies and minds into shape for what lay ahead.

 

Various strategies for safely descending river sections were practiced and all the time, Andy was unobtrusively assessing our abilities and coaching us with a continual stream of recommendations or gentle suggestions when any of us cocked anything up. It wasn’t long before we arrived at Serpent’s Tail and we all got out of our boats for a reccy prior to running it – or so I thought!    Andy started to introduce the concept that a swimmer wasn’t a victim and there then followed some extremely useful strategies for swimming and throw bag demonstrations comparing dynamic rescues with static ones and also introducing all sorts of other factors and ways of improving the likelihood of a successful outcome while also controlling risks. THEN IT WAS OUR TURN!!!!!

 

Getting ourselves one by one into a good position close to the rushing, boiling, foaming riverside, we each launched ourselves into Serpent’s and were quickly carried off over each of the features, franticly swimming, both defensively and aggressively until we each reached the safety of the eddy at the end of the gorge. The river level was very low so believe me, Serpent’s really was a gorge!

 

After just one run, most of us were cream crackered but Andy suggested a competition to see who could swim into the eddy half way down. Without hesitation, each of us lunched into the midst of Serpent’s once more and each of us made the eddy, although it did take a great deal of physical effort, not only to get in but also to get out of the eddy. Andy then coached us on how to swim for safety using far less effort and, again we all gave it a go. I was relived to get to the other end but this time I still had enough breath left to stand up and chat – so, it worked. We all did much more swimming practice and then started to use our throw lines in the various methods we had been shown. Each of us had slightly different sizes of throw lines and it was useful to compare the positives and negatives.

 

Any apprehension that any of us might have had at the beginning of the session was gradually disappearing as we grew more confident in our abilities and, before we eventually moved on to the next section of the river, I was beginning to enjoy myself and noticed that some of us even managed a smile as the penny dropped that “swimmers are not victims”.

 

Before we realised it, hours had gone by and the day was almost over but, noticing that we were all beginning to enjoy ourselves, we paddled down to Mile End Mill again where Andy took us to a spot just above a stopper where we all got out of our boats. He had us all body surfing in the stopper and there was lots of laughter as each of us got flushed out at the far end, only to swim back to the stopper once more for another go. All of this fun and games was preparing us for “live bait” rescues and each of us had at least one go at being the bait as, together with our partner, we were flushed downstream towards other rocks and stoppers. Some of us even made quite an impression on one or two of the rocks with various parts of our anatomy!

 

Finally the day ended with a short debrief and we all headed home cold but happy and feeling that we had done too many rounds in the ring with a heavyweight boxer.

Meeting again the next morning, we each discovered that most of us had a very early night in an attempt to recover before the fun and games of Sunday. We were to run the same sections of river again but this time cover different parts of the syllabus. Our intensive training from Saturday gave us much more confidence and we managed to descend through the features much quicker than on Saturday. When we came to Serpent’s some of us were dreading what might be in store – more swimming perhaps? No, this time, half of us portaged and stood by with throw lines while the other half ran the feature, thankfully without incident.

 

Further downstream we practiced boat and paddle recovery in a small rapid while the swimmer got themselves to safety. Further downstream again we practiced wading across shallow rapids using various techniques, moving on to entrapment extrication techniques and more practice on recovering pinned boats. The day was drawn to a close with discussions and a practical session related to an entrapment scenario and finally to rescuing a swimmer from a stopper using the live bait skills we had practiced the previous day.

 

An enjoyable and well worthwhile couple of days where we each learned a great deal and realised the importance of constantly practicing our new skills just in case they’re needed in a real life situation on the river. I’m confident that each of us on the course would endorse Andy Grimes and Fluid Combinations as a great coaching set-up and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him to anyone wanting our sort of experience, especially since, at the end of each day he handed round some fabulous cakes baked by our very own Sophie Stevenson. Thanks Sophie, now we know how good your cakes are, we look forward to sampling them again each time we paddle with you J

 

Paddlers – Tom Nevin, Mike Nevin, Lizzie Bywater, David Rider, Carole Thomas, Pete Thomas         More Photos….

 

 

Swan Lake Pedal Boats – Lightwater Valley27/04/15 Ladies paddling session at the Marina (Saturday 25th April)

We had a lovely start to the season on Saturday morning. It was great to meet up again.  

It rained. We hid under the bridge, drank coffee, had a chat. Then as it seemed to be easing off a bit, we ventured out to the next bridge. Half way there, it threw it down again. So we made it to the next bridge. And so on all morning.

 

We visited the Swan Pedalo fleet in the Albert Dock - and liked the idea of pedalling the swans on the sea - our alternative river crossing for when Merseyrail trains stop working - and we were saddened about the state of Grace, the original swan pedalo :-(

 

We made plans, as you do, for our forthcoming Midsummer canoe camp over lunch and coffee as we thawed out - that wind was bitter on Saturday.

Next session is Saturday May 9th - all ladies, all abilities welcome – Click for more information…..

 

27/04/15 Please keep well clear of all moored yachts and craft at the Marina

 

One of our members accidently bumped into one of the yachts the other night and we have had an official complaint from the Marina.  It is vital that we keep on the good side of everyone at the marina and are courteous at all times.

 

Please take care when using the pontoons for entry and exit and keep well away from all moored craft.  In addition please do not perform any rescues or fun activities near the moored craft; there are more and more people permanently living aboard them and we need to give them the upmost respect.

 

Many thanks

 

Liverpool Canoe Club

 

image24/04/15 Pair set off to paddle around the UK in Rockpool Tarans

I have a couple of mates paddling round the UK.  They set off from Falmouth 4th April currently paddling to Anglesey. If anyone wants to join them, offer chips and ice cream and they would appreciate it.  Michael Alexander

Follow their progress on:

 

https://katiekayak.wordpress.com/

 

https://darksideoftheloom.wordpress.com/

 

 

24/04/15 Costa Brava (Spain) Sea Paddle 2015

 

Introduction

Following last year’s successful circumnavigation of Menorca, this year’s A2B paddle along the Costa Brava, Spain’s “Wild Coast” , was full to capacity very soon after appearing on the club calendar.

 

Kayak rental was arranged from Marc Martin Alcobar who owns Sea Kayaking Spain http://www.seakayakingspain.com/ and since he is the main agent in Spain for Nigel Dennis kayaks, we got some very good sea boats and related paddling gear at a reasonable price.

 

Our Liverpool / Barcelona flights were cheap and convenient and, since there were 7 in our party, Marc ferried us around in his mini-bus until we were ready to get on the water; collecting us after we had completed the trip and generally helping us as much as he could by providing a shore-side safety service in case we got ourselves in schtook along the way.

 

Although Marc also provided updates for any significant weather heading our way, we had previously arranged that LCC member Steve Gille would send us forecasts from the UK. Steve’s was full of useful detail which enabled us to make important decisions at critical points along our route.

 

It has to be said that Marc provided an excellent and friendly service once we were in Spain and I’m sure each of us on the trip would endorse his company for any future trips.

 

Not long before we arrived, the weather along the Costa Brava was atrocious and it wasn’t until the day before we got on the water that the decision was made start at the south of the region and head up north; ideally finishing close to the French border or in France itself if the weather played ball.

 

Because we didn’t leave from Liverpool until the afternoon on Tuesday 7th April, we arrived quite late at Barcelona Airport and, although Marc was there waiting for us in his mini-bus, we always knew that we would be too late to get on the water immediately. Marc had arranged a cheap (but very comfortable) hotel for us in Blanes, our proposed put-in and the “Gateway to the Costa Brava”.

 

When we arrived the town appeared to be completely closed down and we later discovered that it was some sort of local bank holiday. After lugging our bags into our hotel rooms and meeting up with Dave Lynch who had driven down to paddle for the previous week at the Pagaia International Sea Symposium http://www.pagaia.cat/symposium/index.php/en/paddleweek centred nearby at Llançà. Undaunted by the ghost town appearance, we set off into the night and discovered a very nice restaurant that produced some fantastic food, our last “big” meal for quite a long time.

 

More information on the area and Costa Brava …..

 

Day One - Wednesday 8th April – Blanes to Cala Pola – Approx 18 Km

We all arose early from our comfortable hotel beds and Marc turned up ready to take us to the local supermarket for our paddling food. This trip was different to previous trips I had been on insofar as there were plenty of opportunities along the 180 Km coastline to top up with fresh water and food. This took the pressure off a bit but most of us packed enough for the majority of the trip just in case the weather denied us easy access to the towns along the way. Besides which, heading into towns on a regular basis just to go shopping also seemed disruptive to the enjoyment of self supported wild camping – the ethos on which every other sea paddling / wild camping trip I had done was based.

 

 After the familiar faff of packing our boats in Blanes Harbour, we set off in the early afternoon and I immediately discovered that my skeg was stuck, a problem that was to plague many of us over the next 9 days. Back in my boat with my skeg working properly, I rejoined the team and we headed out of the harbour. Inside the harbour walls, all was calm and sheltered but as soon as we poked our noses out, we all realised that there was a swell running and a bit more wind than perhaps we had anticipated. Those of you who know the Mediterranean will understand that, in most of it, there is only an insignificant tidal range and very little stream flowing in any direction. This means that you will never get to play in a tiderace or on a standing wave. That said, there are many lumps and bumps and thrills to help hone sea paddling skills and “clapotis” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clapotis is one of these features waiting for us just as we left the harbour entrance. 

 

The swell was hitting the harbour wall and reflected back onto itself to cause a confused sea. In an unfamiliar boat loaded with expedition kit, Don soon fell victim to the challenging conditions and was ably plucked out of the water and returned to his cockpit by Keith. With all of the weight of an expedition boat, it’s not easy to empty the cockpit of water in the usual way and Keith had to pump most of it out using the only pump we had between us. This proved to be a lengthy process but Nicky was alongside like a flash and helped keep Don upright while Keith was doing his bit. She also did a great job to help prevent the raft from getting trashed on the rough harbour wall.

 

I was some 75m away when Keith called for an anchor tow to help keep the raft away from the wall. Again, in an unfamiliar laden boat, I headed towards them back through the clapotis again but found it surprisingly difficult to get close to Don’s boat in the middle of the raft. Thankfully, Nicky’s one handed paddling skills got them clear of the wall and my tow wasn’t necessary.  This was a wake-up call to us all and we realised that we had only two tows, one pump and a couple of sponges between us.

Because of our late start, our proposed wild campsite was on the beach of Cala Pola about 18Km away. The direction of swell and wind strength made for a challenging sea for the whole route but we all gradually got used to our boats and began to cope with the conditions. So early on in our trip we didn’t dare to play among the rocks in the confused sea under the cliffs but opted instead to stay well offshore except for the few occasions where we could tuck in behind small headlands. When we could, we all stopped for a break on a beach which also gave Don a chance to dry out, warm up and gather his thoughts.

 

Propelled along by a stiff breeze and a following swell, we made decent headway but by the time we arrived at our first campsite at Cala Pola, the sun had all but left the beach so we sheltered out of the cold wind by a convenient wall and cooked our first evening meal. Too cold for staying up late and chatting, we all settled into the warmth of our sleeping bags as darkness descended onto our patch of  the Mediterranean. I for one didn’t sleep all that well as I listened to the waves hitting the beach and to fishing boats “lamping” in our bay.

 

Pete Thomas          More Photos…..

 

 

Don paddling under a bridge over the Mediterranean

Day Two – Thursday 9th April – Cala Pola to L’Aqulla de Castell

We awoke in our idyllic bay just as the sun was rising over the steep walls to either side.  There was a deep dew covering everything but we soon had the petrol stoves firing on all cylinders.  As we started to pack away workmen started to arrive and began work preparing the campsite ready for a busy summer.  There were sinks to wash up in and dustbins to dispose of any rubbish.

We were soon on our way and paddled around the headland (Cap de Pola) and on northwards exploring the coast.  The wind was still from the SE and so blew us along nicely.

After a few miles we were weaving in and out of a series of small islands and stacks and came across a small stone bridge out to one of the islands.  This just had to be paddled under much to the surprise of a group of people who had just walked out to the small island.

Many Granite headlands

The miles soon crept by as passed Ille del Freu and past the town and harbour of Sant Feliu de Guixols eventually crossing the large sandy bay of Platja d`Aro.  It was all fairly built up but Peter has marked it as a suggested campsite.  Indeed behind the beach was a campsite with lots of motor homes in.  We took a look but all agreed it would not be ideal.  There was a sizable swell dumping on the beach and the landing did not look good so we moved on round the corner to a couple of little bays sheltered by rocky headlands. This allowed a comfortable landing but it was clear that we were all fairly tired and time was marching on.  After 5 or 6 people had either run or sauntered past on the coast path that followed the cliff line we got back into our kayaks headed off for one of Marks recommended campsites at L’Aqulla de Castell.

Our beautiful beach at L’Aqulla de Castell but it was soon to be in the shade

 

This was going to be a 3 map day (well from the end of map 1 to the start of map 3).  We paddled straight past Palamos where Mark lives without so much as a second look.  It was now well past 5pm.  Paddling around Cap Gross the seas became a little lumpy but soon we happened across rows of small fishing cottages (sheds) all stacked up on top of each other.  The shed doors were all different colours.  A quick survey of the beach suggested the left hand side would be the better landing, one by one we all made it successfully and kayaks were dragged up beyond the breaking wave.  The wind now was strong and cold blowing directly onshore.  We spread our gear out on the wooden bike racks to get the last of the sun but all too soon the shadow spread across the bay.

Some of us ventured up to the old ruins and a quick look around the corner.  As we returned we found Pete and Carole sat in the last of the days sun on the extreme right hand side of the beach.  As the sun set our tents were quickly pitched in the soft sand and we settled down for a blowy, cold night.

Keith Steer               More Photos…..

Day Three - Friday 10th April – L’Aqulla de Castell to Fornells

We awoke to another sunny day, a quick walk past the pink Finka on the beach to stretch the legs, this being a Spanish term for a rural house plus land http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finca , while waiting for the sun to finally reach the tents and dry the condensation as best it could before we got on the water. We packed our boats, always with the puzzle of “will it all go in” without injuring the fingers with too much pushing and squeezing everything past the hatch rims.

Boats finally packed, we launched and sorted out any skegs that had become jammed by the sharp gritty sand that most of the beaches appeared be made of. Don and Pete had by now swapped boats, experimenting in the hope that Don could relax a bit in the confused patches of sea and enjoy the paddling more. We set off around the first headland of this National Park Castell Cap Ruig into a small cove to paddle through our first arch of the day, this had been spotted from the top of the headland which some had walked up to on the previous night. Calmer now than on previous days, we followed the coastline round with great scenery, towering granite cliffs and plenty of caves until we reached Cap Ruig. From here we cut across the bay missing the built up area of Calella de Palafrugell, until we could find more fabulous rock hopping and caves to explore.

 

We decided to camp overnight in a bay close to the village of Fornells and on this visit it was very different from when we tried to anchor there one hot and busy August a few years ago on our sailing boat. It was so crowed then that we were chased away but this time it was very quiet with hardly a boat in sight. After a quick tootle around the bay exploring possible campsites, we went around a small headland and took up residence on a reasonably secluded beach.

 

It had been a relatively short day so was still early afternoon when we landed on the beach. We pulled up the boats and settled down for a sunbath and an attempt to dry out any wet tents and other gear. Dave had found himself a nice sheltered spot hidden away in a natural alcove of rocks. Nearby was a very quiet and pretty harbour and the girls soon got a bit restless and headed off up the steep steps to explore while the boys slumbered on in the sunshine. We found a hotel where we had a beer or two and a shared a tapas before returning to the beach for our evening meal.

 

Twilight was descending so, after Keith and Pete had tied all of our boats together with one of the tow lines, we put up the tents and soon disappeared inside to our warm sleeping bags as it was now quite cold. During the night the swell had increased, throwing up the gritty sand over our boats. Unable to sleep properly, Pete got out of the tent three times to check that the boats were OK.

 

A short but pleasant day’s paddling. Sunbathing and exploring.

 

Carole Thomas              More Photos…..

Day Four - Saturday 11th April – Fornells to Cala Ferriol - Approx 25 Km )

The forecast from Steve Gille for day five predicted headwinds, increasing in the afternoon but from our overnight camp on the beach at Fornells, all seemed calm as we set off early in the morning to tackle what was likely to be the crux of the whole trip. It wasn’t long before we came to the headland of Cap De Begur and felt the wind on our faces and, once again, the swell and clapotis suggested we should give it a respectable offing. Once past this headland we could see the spectacular Illes Medes, a protected natural marine park where all kinds of birds and fish can be seen. There were few places to stop for elevenses along this part of the coastline but once we turned the headland of Punta de la Creu, we managed to escape the influence of the swell and take a break on the beach at Platja de sa Riera. This beach was also reasonably sheltered from the northerly wind which, so early in the day, hadn’t really piped up to full strength.

 

After a break of about an hour we were ready to paddle directly towards our intended lunchtime stop at the port of L’Estartit on the far side of a 10Km bay and just west of the Illes Medes. This stretch was largely uneventful until we got closer to the far side of the bay when the wind filled in more and more, so much so that the local kite surfers zigged and zagged across our path so close to us that we could read the labels on their shorts! It was tempting to visit the islands but I knew that there were no landing places and the wind and swell might have made it difficult to get close in. A previous visit there some years ago persuaded me to take a diving mask in my kayak on this trip but, alas, it remained unused throughout the whole trip. Snorkelling around these islands is spectacular as there are dozens of species of fish to see, some of them quite large.

 

On entering the harbour of L’Estartit, it was as if someone had turned up the heat and turned off the wind. A very handy beach beckoned us and we spread ourselves out and had some lunch while we soaked up the sun. It was roughly half way through the trip so some of us headed into town to stock up on a few nick-nacks at the local Supermarket.

Refreshed and restocked, we headed out again and followed Dave for a few Kms as he had paddled in the area just last week and knew of a spectacular cave that cut right through the sizable headland of Cap Castell. We were soon among the familiar clapotis but most of us had grown used to it and had begun to enjoy it. Don was still struggling a bit with the sea state but was improving and Keith, dutiful and attentive as ever, kept a close eye on him while the rest of us spread out and immersed ourselves in various levels of concentration while enjoying the feeling of being thrown around in the confused sea.

 

The big arch/cave was obvious as we got closer to it and, although the approach was lumpy, inside was much calmer and well worthwhile. Passing through to the other side put us in completely calm water and it was less than a Km to our overnight wild camp at Cala Ferriol. The beach was of flat pebbles which were a relief from the sharp gritty sand we had been used to on previous camps. The small north east facing bay was protected at the entrance by a small island and a group of rocks. There were divers exploring these rocks who we made friends with easily as one of them revealed that he too was a kayaker. He told us that there was a massive arch under the island that was worth the dive.

 

A brackish spring from the rocks was too much of a temptation for our coven of girls who felt compelled to wash their hair in it. As the evening drew in and with the crux of the trip behind us, we ate and enjoyed the banter in what, at last, began to feel like a warm holiday.

 

Pete Thomas               More Photos…..


Sea anemones are a group of water-dwelling, predatory animals of the order Actiniaria. They are named for the anemone, a terrestrial flower. Sea anemones are classified in the phylum Cnidaria, class Anthozoa, subclass Hexacorallia.[1] Anthozoa often have large polyps that allow for digestion of larger prey and also lack a medusa stage.[2] As cnidarians, sea anemones are related to corals, jellyfish, tube-dwelling anemones, and Hydra.

Many sea anemones form symbiotic relationships with single-celled algae, whether zooxanthellae or zoochlorellae, that live within their cells.

The global trade in marine ornamentals for aquariums is rapidly expanding, and threatens sea anemone populations as the trade depends on collection from the wild, and the animals grow and reproduce relatively slowly.

Day Five - Sunday 12th April - Cala Ferriol to Sant Marti d’ Empuries

We awoke early to a beautiful sunrise which lit up our little cove.  During breakfast in the “Fishermans Kitchen” by the spring we discussed the wild boar hunt during the night.  Apparently wild boar had been flushed from the Mediterranean scrubland down through our camp where they had been using their snouts to forage for food.  Nicky and Kath had opted to put their tents up at the back of the cove near the forest.  With the first sign of movement in the undergrowth Nicky had moved herself into Kath’s tent and hardly slept a wink.  Don added that he believed that he had heard shots fired in the night and wondered if they hunt the boar only at night.

With the forecast of fresh winds during the day and better weather on to follow it was decided to have a shorter paddle today in preparation for the crossing of the bay or Rosies.  Some suggested a paddle out the Isles of Medes but this was soon vetoed.  We compromised and paddled back to the great arch at Cap Castell to take a better look as it had been fairly lumpy the day before.

We the made our way around the coastline and were making a point of going in every cave and gap between the rocks.  We passed underneath towering limestone cliffs with many stacks and stumps from many years of coastal erosion.  Although there is very little tide in the Mediterranean the sea level seemed lower that expected with many Sea anemones exposed or near the surface and there was an erosion line where the water had eaten in to the base of the cliff.  Mark later explained that due the high pressure the surface of the sea had been depressed by 20-30cm for much of the time that we had been paddling.

We paddled on around past Cala Montgo with old forts and the first sign of the large port town of L`Escala.  We had three options of a campsite marked with our familiar black dots all close together just beyond the port.  The most favourable looked to be Empuries, which was marked on the map as a site of Archaeology. We landed on a sheltered beach behind a small limestone outcrop or line of rocks making a sheltered bay.  There was clearly an old historic wall running parallel to the beach.  We pulled our kayaks up onto the beach.  Although the sun was roasting a cool, stiff breeze was blowing full on to the beach.  We managed to find a sheltered spot just behind the first sand dune.  We soaked up the sun for the rest of the day and just chilled out.  Annoyingly, the area had lots of visitors including an Anglo Spanish group just the other side of the dunes.  We endured the kids shouting and rolling a large fit ball continually down the dunes using us as a bowling alley just happy to be on a fine-grained, sandy beach for once.

Later we moved the boats up into our little enclave and settled in for the night.

Keith Steer            More Photos…..

Cooking breakfast in our fisherman’s kitchen

One of the hundreds of caves

Paddling past some interesting off shore stacks

 

Day Six - Monday 13th April - Sant Marti d’ Empuries to Cala Joncols

The day started with some doggy mobile wake up calls going off !!! From about 6:45 to 7:00am I unzipped the tent that had heavy dew on it to see the quarter moon segment in the sky and the warm glow

Heading off into the fog, the other side of the
bay just about still visible.

of the Mediterranean sun reflecting back against some clouds.

So everybody was quite quick to rise as we had a BIG DAY a head of us! People were having porridge and other things but the calmer group members were drinking camomile tea. So we started to pack away and due to the heavy dew on the tents the sand was sticking to the tents so as some said "fall in Love with the sand" and we were soon ready to leave the shores were the ancient Greeks landed in this area as there is a lot of ancient ruins standing to this day.

Halfway elevenses!

Even the Spanish found this beach to be of great importance as the 1992 Olympic torch was brought ashore here.

So with everyone ready to leave at 07.50 we set off to do the BIGGEST crossing of the whole trip, the Bay of Roses.  The total mileage to cross the would be in excess of 16km.  We could see our destination in the distance and we were very happy to see that the sea was very flat!!   I don't know how our British weatherman Steve Gille fixed it! Just a light wind or was it the calm before the storm ?

Caz started to lead the group across with a designated back marker; we were all in good spirits and soon got into a good paddy rhythm set by Caz.  Visibility was good so we should be able see the sun fish on the surface ! Unfortunately the only thing we saw stopped was a box !!!

We were soon ticking of the km stopping for on the hour in a tight group for drinks and "nick-nack Nikki" had been handing out jelly beans at crazy rate all week !

Nicky cooking the evening meal behind an old stone hut on the beach.

Before we knew it we were across the main bay.  With about 5 km to go one of our group decided that they needed the bathroom asap!!! Being a strong paddler this person decided to paddle ahead. Dave paddled with her so at least they were together.  With two break always heading for the nearest point of land we decided to follow.  The new destination probably made the crossing shorter.  So we all landed on the golden shores of "Canyelles Petites in around 2.5 hrs.  Not bad for 14km and much to the interest of the local Spanish people we landed ! at this time two people away getting provisions as Dave was craving some fresh bread so we made the most of it and decided to go to a beach Taverna.   We enjoyed two excellent cups of coffee and when the chef turned up we ordered a mixed paella and platter of small peppers with sea salt. After an excellent lunch we set of to go around the main headland, Punta Falconera, 2km away.  We had been advised by Mark that around another headland there was another camp site so after Pete's Google Earth search we started to paddle out again !

Dave spotted two people in a double kayak.  “They’re from the Spanish symposium” cried Dave so we frantically started to wave and shout at them but to our amazement there was a pod of dolphins following their kayak.  We tried to communicate that to them shouting and screaming but I am sure they thought " Crazy English" so " Nick nack Nicky" and Cathy decided to try and chase them.  With their speed dolphins will win every time so after that brief bit of excitement it was on and around the next headland.  This was Cape Norfeu heading to Cala Joncols which Mark had recommended.  We landed on a lovely, stony beach with an activity centre in the back ground so we climbed out the boats happy that the weather had been so kind!

As the main crossing of the bay was 14km and only took us 2 & 1/2 hrs were all relaxed and chilled out on the beach when a massive group of young teenagers paraded in dive gear down to the beach! A dive boat took them across the bay where they were diving.  Two other people were doing introduction lessons less than 10m from the shore but soon after entering the water the diving instructor was assisting a casualty to the shore.   She looked okay as she was crying and conscious but after a long time laid flat on the beach Cathy put on her doctors hat on and went to help.  Dave was the interpreter and was looking cool in his deer stalker sun hat, striped socks and sandals.  I am glad to say the casualty recovered well and the dive master came to thank Cathy and Dave who were heroes of the Day!!, The Guy who was originally from Belgium knew all about the River Mersey.  LIVERPOOL PEOPLE OUR FAMOUS Another great day !!   Don Brooks                  More Photos…..

Day Seven - Tuesday 14th April – Cala Joncols to Port de la Selva

Paddling round into Badia de Cadaques

Waking from another great night’s sleep to find that, yet again, we had not been eaten by wild boars, we were quick to break camp before the scuba guys started for the day. Tents down by 7, we were enjoying a leisurely breakfast in the early morning sun, when the guy running the scuba centre popped down to explain the drama (French lady diver collapsed after shallow dive) of the day before and wish us a good trip. A lovely chap, and anyone who fancies a diving/snorkelling trip based on the Costa Brava would be well advised to look at this place. They’ve a great wee bar with a roaring fire, pool table and relaxed après ski like atmosphere – as they ran a hotel / chalet business on the beach we were illegally camping on, it was agreed that it would be prudent to keep them happy by spending a few Euros in their bar.

 

The sea was glassy calm again and the early morning light picking out the cacti on the rock faces as we paddled onwards for our next days adventure made the early start worthwhile.  A couple of caves, several anemones, numerous (bigger) jellyfish and a couple of those picture postcard blue and white fishing boats later, we paddled gently round to inspect the surreal wonder of Salvador’s house. The long shallow bay was beautiful, with its turquoise waters and perfectly reflected mooring buoys. Port Ligat was, well, uninspiring. A tiny village with a shingle beach and crowds of tourists queuing to get in to Dali’s house which looked like every other white washed

Salvador Dali’s House in Portlligat;
a surreal experience.

villa in Spain, aside from an egg on top of a roof in the back garden. Far more beautiful were the incredible rock formations we paddled past which looked to have been carved by Dali. Nicky was out of her boat, changed into dry gear, and back with ice creams before the rest of us had got a brew on. We decided to try and disguise ourselves and blend in among the tourists….when at the seaside….. Don won!

After a 3 course elevenses stop, we squeezed ourselves back in to the boats, keen to return to the peace and tranquillity of the open sea and deserted beaches. As the bustle of the Dali beach faded, we rounded the corner straight into this lovely Spanish paddler from Barcelona. He was 82 and if you look closely, you can see his walking stick strapped to his front deck.  With typical Spanish modesty he professed to only speak a very little English. Never one to shy away from a chat, Dave pumped him for local knowledge and paddling stories before we set off to find yet somewhere else to eat! This was looking less and less like an expedition…..

A few more caves and it was soon time for lunch. Not satisfied with his fish and chips, and determined to return with all 6 cans of tuna that he and I bought in the supermarket, Don persuaded Dave to help him catch their lunch…..

Our third meal of the day under our belts, we set off again with the south westerly forecast by Steve Gille at our backs. Steve and Marc had warned of force 6 -7 south westerlies heading our way that evening, so we planned to nestle in the shelter of Port de Selva for the night. In order to work off a fraction of the calories we’d managed to pack in, Keith, Pete and I took a left turn to explore the coastline and another black dot. The rest of the crew headed toward the final campsite and, with the wind at their backs, were soon well across the bay before we realised.  We decided to press on to check out the campsite for future LCC explorers and found a beautiful sandy beach, flat grassy banks and a wee fisherman’s hut, all secluded and private but within eyeline of a telephone post. An idyllic spot, but with the forecast wind and with the rest of the gang hanging on for us mid bay we headed back to rejoin them and agreed we needed to make clear plans at each stop and stick together on the water. The sea was nice and calm, but that tramontana wind is a peculiar beast and sudden gusts can come from nowhere. A lesson learned, safely.

A pebble beach for tonight’s camp

And so to lizard rock, a pebbly beach covered in flotsam and jetsam, overlooked by brown box holiday apartments and with a path straight across it. The busiest and least attractive campsite so far, but a perfect drying day. We relayed the boats up the beach and hid ourselves on lizard rock where everyone basked in the sun whilst I unpacked all of my bags on to the beach, moved them around, repacked them, moved them around again, unpacked again and repeated until Don called tea time!  Dave decided it was curry night, again, but mixed it up with a few green beans, Don did some minor surgery on my shoe with a 1 inch thorn stuck in it, Pete and Caz chilled out in the sun, Nicky headed up the mountain to catch the last of the rays with her book and Keith talked me out of popping up to teach the shouty British children staying in one of the apartments a lesson in manners after they shouted “Die campers, die. We can see you”. I restrained myself to a simple “we can hear you” and plotted an early morning raid on their house.

As another beautiful sun set over the med, I determined that tonight was the night to break out the bivvy - my best chance of seeing a wild boar (Nicky having locked me inside the tent at the last encounter). I assumed that polite Spanish wild boar would kindly respect the boundaries of canvas, and so I nestled in to a small gap between Keith and Don’s tents, back against a cliff, and a pebbly beach at my feet on which they would surely struggle to get purchase. It was a beautiful dry, clear night and the stars were mesmerising.  I fell fast asleep and only woke when my glasses squashed firmly in to my nose. A quick peak at the stars and back to sleep in readiness for my jetboil teasmaid role the next morning.

Kathy Morton                               More Photos…..

Day Eight - Wednesday 15th April – Port de la Selva to Punta del Borro

We woke to find the weather breezy but dry.   For the first time on the trip my tent and contents were completely dry.  A quick breakfast, kayaks packed, and on the water for 08.00hr.  We set off in confused winds heading for our morning break (called elevenses regardless of the actual time) this morning it would be in Llanca a place well known to me. I had been there for the VI Pagaia symposium two weeks previously.

We pulled our kayaks up onto the sandy beach and headed for the local cafe, you know the sort of place, all the locals go there!  I left the crew in the cafe and went off to make a quick phone call to my eldest son to wish him a happy 44th birthday.   When l returned a short time later Nicky was eating a breakfast baguette about two feet long, it looked so appetising everyone ordered the same. Pete said later we had eaten in excess of 12 feet of baguette, wow!

Back on the water, after a quick visit to www.kayakcostabrava.com  where the plastic was splashed a plenty. We then headed of to find our campsite for the night.   We had been told by a local contact that there were two suitable campsites on a nearby peninsular, one of which was a naturist friendly beach. As you can guess we pulled up on the naturist beach, well LCC do that sort of thing!

The sea around the small rocky peninsular was so clear the girls and l decided to leave Pete, Keith, and Don setting up camp whilst we went off exploring the area.   We returned about an hour later to find the camp fully set up, including Keith's basher for a sun shade, all the naturists had moved away too, big surprise.

After checking the water supply Nicky and I decided we needed a top up. so we headed off into town, a 30 minute walk according to the sign post. It turned out to be over an hours walk.  Thirsty we had no choice but to head for the local cafe and drink iced coke. After a short time Cathy came into the cafe, more cokes.   I then went off to the supermarket to get the water, whilst Cathy (I think we should get a taxi back) talked the owner of the cafe into getting his car out and giving us a lift back to the campsite, nice guy or what?

After distributing the water Nicky and Cathy decided they were going to have a swim in the sea to cool off, how long did they swim for? l hear you ask. Answer Nicky 15 seconds Cathy 15 minutes, the rest of us zero.  We went to bed at our usual 21.00hr happy in the knowledge that the next day we only had a short paddle and we would be in France.

Ah! France, my second home.   Dave Lynch                More Photos…..

Leaving Port de la Selva after packing up our camp

The habour wall, entrance to Llanca

The tarpaulin providing shade before a
heavy gust of wind tore it to shreds.

 

Day Nine - Thursday 16th April - Punta del Borro to Cervera in France

Overcast but shelter from the cliffs on our last day

The day started with leaden skies, but nothing could dampen our spirits this day, not even the grey sea, where had the clear blue Mediterranean sea gone?

I had noticed while everyone was packing their kayaks that there were little glances that said, I'm sure I had more stuff in my kayak than this? It's amazing how over the course of a trip space in the hatches increases, food gets consumed, and of course we all become more proficient at stowing our gear.

 

The wind was very slight, direction? who cares, we are on our final day. With near perfect weather we hadn't needed the two days built into the timescale for bad weather. The result of this was, days eight and nine, being a stroll in the park.

 

The sea cliffs along this part of the coast are fascinating, a geologists paradise. I'm not sure, but l think Keith took some photo's to show the kids in school next geography lesson!

Early elevenses in Portbou

We stopped at Portbou for our elevenses (at 10.00). A sleepy sort of place, not yet woken up from its winter hibernation.  Not ready for the tourist season, or us. This did not stop Nicky, or later Carole darting off to investigate what shops were open (as in cake shops).  We sat near to the town recycling point on some very nice benches. Look the other way, quick! Pete, and Don, are investigating the recycled stuff. Boys will be boys, myself included.

 

On the water again, goodbye Portbou, hello Cevera, (spelt Cebera in Spanish) journeys end.  Cevera is very like Berwick Upon Tweed, having changed identity so many time it didn't feel French or Spanish, everyone was bilingual. I felt it was a place that could tell some fascinating tales. If only it could talk!

 

After the journeys end photo's, we quickly got ashore and emptied out the kayaks to dry and sort our gear, did it look like a traveller's camp? What do you think?

A Miracle but we did finish in Cervera (France)

 

Nicky and I stayed on the beach to guard the kayaks and equipment. The remainder of the team retreated to the nearby cafe for chips and beer.

14.05, do my eyes deceive me? No it's Marc coming down the hill (like the lone ranger) with the minibus and trailer, 25 minutes ahead of schedule! 14.27 and we are on our way. Wow 22 minutes to load seven kayaks and all our equipment. That must be some sort of record?

 

We snaked our way slowly up the road out of town, past the now deserted border post, on our way to Palamos, to find a bed for the night. On the journey we had our first, and only, shower of rain of the trip.

 

We were taken to a hostel on the beach in Palamos to stay for the night. I stayed two extra nights to rest up before my nine hour drive back to France, I was treated like one of the family by the owner and staff, and they even stored my kayak for me, instead of leaving it on the roof rack of my van.

 

After all the sleeping arrangements were sorted we had drinks in the lounge. Will he? Won’t he? Marc finally arrived with his lovely wife Ana, to give us a lift to the restaurant. We were all very hungry; apparently it's not unusual to eat as late as 23.00 in Spain.  We returned after a lovely meal tired and tumbled into bed for a well earned sleep.

In my 29 years of kayaking I have never had a trip go more near to plan. Very well done whoever ordered the weather. Would I go again?  YES I WOULD.

Dave Lynch                More Photos…..

Day Ten - Friday 17th April The journey home and time for reflection.

 

Mark was going to pick us up from La Fosca and take us to Barcelona.  After breakfast the team divided, some heading to town for nick-nacks while others headed along the coast to one of our campsites at L’Aqulla de Castell.  Here we walked past the fisherman’s cottage (which still had wood smoke emanating from its chimney) and up to the ruined fortifications and along the cliff top walk.  On our return we happened upon a shop selling blow up beach toys and the Dolphin just had to be purchased as a present for Mark.  He had spent most of last night telling us that he  had seen just about everything but dolphins and was astounded to hear of our discovery on of a pod on day six.

 

Dave managed to astound us all by trying to store his very heavy sea kayak at La Fosca hotel.  It would not fit down the side, in the kitchen or side entrance so he persuaded the hotel owner and her son to lift it up one floor onto one of the balconies!  I just had to take a photo.

 

More Photos…..

 

Reflections:

1/  The Costa Brava Coast is fantastic to paddle with many caves and cliffs to explore.

2/  Early April can be very cold and certainly for the first 3 days was a little uncomfortable (or maybe I just did not have enough clothes).

3/  Group aspirations are key to any sea kayaking trip and in an ideal world we would all share the same goals.  It is fair to say that the group did not really gel and towards the end there was always the threat of a “breakaway or mutiny”.  This certainly spoiled the trip.

4/  All paddlers should have their own map or charts and take part in the journey planning in relation to weather forecasts or at least track our progress along the route.

5/  We really needed more than one hand pump and one set of splits between the group and should have insisted on more.

6/  Along with personal kit each paddler should really have a tow line long enough to be used from a sea kayak.  Any of us could have been called upon to tow at any time (please see day one!)

7/  As with any group travelling on the sea the expectation should be to remain together as one group and never to split off for different destinations or stops.  We were strongest as a group of seven and needed to stay together to cope with potential hazards.  eg. Gear failure, fog, rescues, jellyfish stings, strong tramontana winds or theft of unguarded gear along with many other difficulties that may have been unseen.

 

Keith S

 

21/04/14 Scottish Easter Bank Holiday – Blackwater Hostel at Kinlochleven 2nd to 6th April 2015

Each Easter the club organises accommodation in the Blackwater Hostel in the scenic village of Kinlochleven surrounded by spectacular Mamore Mountains, on the famous West Highland Way. This idyllic location is located between Glencoe and Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.

 

Approx. 200 Metres from the Ice Factor, Co-op Supermarket and pubs where you can have your evening meal and breakfast.  There is also a fish and chip shop in the village.

http://www.blackwaterhostel.co.uk/

 

 

 

Friday - River Orchy

A major river in Glen Orchy (no surprises there), the A82 from Glasgow to Fort William passes it at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, a good meeting place for paddlers. 'There are 2 gauges on the Bridge of Orchy beside each other. There is the old one that goes from 1-13 and a new one from 1-5. The gauge levels on this guide refer to the old one that goes up to 13. The new one gets completely submerged at 3 on the old gauge.'  Easy water begins the trip, until eventually you reach...

A rapid with a big rock in the middle.

A big rapid called 'Chicken Chute' which name rather irritatingly gives away the fact that there is indeed a zig-zag chicken chute, river left...

'Sheep Trolley Gorge' a long rapid with notable waves and holes as it channels right, some nice playspots hereabouts.

Easan Dubha (grade 5) - you don't want to miss this one, it's a sharp 3-4 metre drop with a choice of routes. Figure a route out for yourself, but be aware that the river left channel has a hidden ledge at the bottom, which serves to make the stopper there very grabby. This fall was the site of a major rafting tragedy some years ago, with multiple drownings...respect it in high water particularly.

'Sore Tooth' rapid. A long rapid with some big stoppers to avoid or enjoy, depending on your taste.

'Roller Coaster' rapid barely needs describing given the name...

'The End of Civilisation' rapid. Who comes up with these names? Do they serve any useful purpose? Decide for yourself. This rapid is quite long and feeds towards the river left side with various potential playspots if you get the breakouts.

Eas a' Chathaidh (Grade 5) - you WILL want to get out and look at this dangerous fall, I didn't bother inspecting last time and got deservedly caned. It's a choice of a river right 4 metre drop or a river left channel leading over a small drop onto a twisting ramp. I've never personally been near the right-hand route, but the left-hand route is enjoyable...if you get it right. Apparently there is a route in the centre in very high water, I haven't seen this.

A little way below Eas a' Chathaidh is a river left hole which is perhaps the best playspot on the river. Thomas Downie (Dec 2003)...'The playhole after Eas a' Chathaidh is (suprisingly) extremely retentitive at higher flows (2+ on the gauge) and can hold you for a long time. It take a lot of effort to get out. It can also recirculate swimmers.'

Last Drop is called 'Witches Step'. It's a step, which has nothing I'm aware of to do with witches.

You probably want to get out at the road (river left) here as the next rapid is the ludicrously dangerous Eas Urchaidh, the Falls of Orchy.

Small Drops early on

A Day on The Orchy

We’d arrived at Kinlochleven the day before, passing along the upper Orchy in crisp but clear weather. Now it was grey and turning to fine rain as we headed back south towards Bridge of Orchy. But hey! This is Scotland in early April, and we’re kayakers, so rain is good!

 

I had some feelings of trepidation heading to the Orchy. Perhaps if I’d read the guidebook a bit more closely, I’d have understood Roy’s insistence that this was a good river for our mixed ability group (pool-drop with portage options all the way). Instead, I just remembered it as one of a small catalogue of the most exhilarating runs I’d done in past adventures; just the once and a long time ago. Long enough not to know what was around each bend, or quite how hard or easy the paddling was going to be. Besides, with my heavy tub, I was hoping for not too many portages!

 

Our numbers swelled by some who had camped overnight near the river, we were soon changed and, once the shuttle drivers got back, divided into groups of 5 or 6 and onto the river.

The first couple of rapids were something of a warm up and, with the characteristic run of flat water following each one, there was time to relax and take in the scenery before the first of the more difficult drops. 

 

The Orchy is a long river and, by this point, a wide river. Most of the rapids present two or three distinct routes (water levels allowing).  So this third rapid, offers an obvious route to the right where powerful flows pre-dominate and a less intimidating but convoluted channel to the left.   After scouting from the banks, we made our individual decisions. Aided by one of the team who indicated the entry point, some of us chose the left “Chicken Shoot” (as the rapid is named), whilst others took the more dramatic right channel.

 

Sheep Trolley Gorge – one of the early rapids

 


Sheep Trolley Gorge – one of the early rapids

And this was the pattern for the rest of the trip. Our groups spread out along the river, but came together again as we scouted each rapid. The first grade V, Easan Dubha, was entirely portaged as being particularly difficult to make a safe line in lowish water levels.

 

 



Easan Dubha

Sore Tooth – Left and Right Exits

Along the trip, from time to time, various swimmers and equipment were rescued and re-united, to carry on to the next rapid.

 

The most notable rescue was perhaps of Sarah on the lip of the first drop at Sore Tooth (Saw Tooth seems more apt!). Trying to find the best line down, Sarah and her kayak needed rescue a very long throw-rope throw from the bank. Three of the team accomplished this without Sarah having to drift too far into the rock-strewn rapid, so well done!

 

 



 Eas a' Chathaidh, 1988 (Photo Mark Benson)

The climax of the day was signalled by our arrival at Eas a' Chathaidh, the second of the two grade V falls, and the most dramatic. This one has an 18 ft waterfall on river right and, more often paddled, the 8 ft fall/10 ft slide on river left. I say, “more often paddled” advisedly; for most of us, discretion was the better part of valour on this one – even the slog over 250 metres of boggy portage wasn’t going to change that. At least we all got to enjoy the display of those who did choose to run the falls – one not fully upright thanks to an unlucky rock at the top (but fortunately, no lasting damage!).

 

The excitement over,  we had the last of the harder drops to run – Witches Step – and then a final series of swirling grade 2/3 channels to the exit well above the Falls of Orchy.  In conclusion, once again a memorable day on one of Britain’s great rivers.  Thanks to Roy for planning it, to Mark Y. (our leader), the others in my group and to everyone else for company on the river.

 



 

Mark Benson (all photos by Emily Benson)      More Photos…….

 

Friday - Sea Paddle (Arisaig)

 

Friday saw us head for Arisaig.  There were 9 paddlers - Ian Bell, Mike Alter, John Pegram, José Santos, Carole Thomas, Pete Thomas, Irene Jackson and Bob & Sue Hamilton.  We headed initially for a “put in” at a boat yard, but that was changed for a beach around the headland.  Parking was a little tight, but the local farmer was helpful and not at all obstructive.

 

 

We had to get the boats over a muddy slope and then down the beach about 200 metres to the water.  The mud succeeded in pulling off both of my lightweight water shoes so I feel something better is needed soon!  The area is an absolute delight, with tons of interesting islands to meander through.

 

 

It became a little windy here and we took shelter for a few minutes, before proceeding to a likely-looking beach for a drink, butties and the obligatory Chocolate Brownies, but the beach was not as hospitable as it had looked in the distance and the wind was quite cold for standing around.  We decided to head back and for a short time we did just that - it was a dream, we were going with the wind and tide and it was effortless.

 

 

Then with a little change of plan (??) we headed out from the shelter and into some slightly less enticing (to me anyway) open sea.  Ian asked each of us our feelings about the conditions and we agreed to give it a go.  But not for very long!  The decision was made to return to the shelter and I for one was quite happy to do so.  The paddle back to the put in was great, but uneventful.

 

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However, as our boats are transported on the top of the van and a ladder is needed to get them up there, I had a brilliant view of the sea state just before we left to return to the Hostel.

 

 Boy, was I glad that we had opted to come back inside the shelter.  I wish I had thought to get a photo!        

 

Bob Hamilton  More Photos…..

 

Saturday - Lower Roy to Roy Bridge

 

As it says in the river guide it’s a nice beginner river, the water level was at a descant level to have some fun on. The rapids were nice to do but not to easy so that it was boring, this made them easy enough to go down without any difficulty. I personally think it was a great river and I would do it again, and it gave me and my group chances to practice Eddie hopping and I even practice my roll. 

 

Along the way we saw a lot of dead sheep probably due to recent high water levels, we even saw a sofa half way the bank of the Roy dangling between two trees.  The rapids were all contained within the small gorge which made the trip feel remote.

 

When we got off at the Roy Bridge Joe had found a snake on the bank and was showing it off to the others.  Fortunately it was only a “Slow Worm”.

 

We then paddled on to join the river Spean which had a number of small but wide rapids.  There was a fair amount of water in the river but Joe had not found one of his “six pipes” working during his afternoon expedition to find the source of the River Spean.  Before long we came across “surprise drop”.  This 1 metre drop was all shot blind by the group as negotiated the tricky approach over shallow but offset rocky beds.

 

This provided a great end to the afternoon’s fun and before long we exited the river at the Spean Bridge Woollen Mill.

 

Mathew Wilcox   More Photos………

 

Saturday - Sea Kayak Circumnavigation of Kerrela Island from Oban 

 

Tides and weather looked good for a second day on the sea, so the decision was made to attempt the 22km Circumnavigation of Kerrera.

Unsure of the best place to start, we decided to launch from the ferry crossing and catch the slight NE flood up the channel to Oban and then paddle against the slight wind and tide on the southbound / outside leg of the trip.

 

We flew up the channel, admiring the stunning scenery, wildlife and housing. Rounding Rubh'a Chruidh, the main Oban ferry passed us on its way to the Isles. We gave space and surfed the waves that it produced.

 

Coming out of the channel we could not see Mull due to the mist. Being unable to see anything other than the shore of Kerrera gave a sense of remoteness and added to the adventure. We paddled on, gradually improving the paddle fitness ahead of the upcoming trip to Norway, watching the seals play, the seagulls skim the waves and always being thankful that the island gave some respite from the wind and tide. 

 

The laden skies accompanied us on the journey along the outside coast until we eventually found a nice place to stop for lunch. Missing Sue's cakes, we resorted to a talk on the geological make-up of the barnacle encrusted rock upon which we sat. After much deliberation we decided that it was conglomerate called FUBARacite.

 

Fully fed we launched onto what we expected to be the most testing section of the day, the southern edge of the island. It was expected to be testing due to the fact that the wind was a south westerly and there is a long fetch of water running straight out to the Atlantic ocean in that direction. Luckily our fears were ill founded and after passing several basaltic dykes we faced a pleasant paddle under clear skies along the southern tip. The views were stunning, with the Bridge over the Atlantic being clearly visible in the far distance.

 

We re-entered the channel with the promise of a little swell for us to surf up on, but alas it was not to be and we had to paddle all the way back to the cars using our own steam.

 

A GREAT day on the sea!

Mike Alter        More Photos……….

Mike Alter, Ian Bell, Pete & Carol Thomas, Andy Garland, John Pegram & Jose the cameraman.

Saturday - KERRERA Island, Scotland 4th April 15

We started paddling from the small ferry terminal just south of Oban.  It caters mostly for foot passengers. Cars cannot be left in the parking slots, reserved for ferry customers, but there is ample space in the lay-by.

The day was very misty and we could barely see the silhouette of the buildings in Oban. Only at the very end it lifted a bit to allow a glimpse of south Mull. There was very little wind and a bit of drizzle at the beginning of the paddle. The speed of the tides in the sounds is small, around 2.5 knots. At times, we were a bit confused regarding whether the currents were helping us or we were paddling against them.

The first stop was at the small islands in the north shore where a group of grey seals is regularly visited by the tourist boats based at the harbour in Oban. Most of them were in the water after one of the visits. The north costs host most of the wildlife we saw: cormorants, shags, Canada goose, two pairs of eider ducks and black guillemots, one individual with summer black and the other with silver winter plumage.

The north shore contains, as well, a small area of hexagonal basaltic columns similar to those that have made famous the isle of Staffa and the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. They are a reminder of the extinct volcano that created the landscape 55 years ago, now located in the isle of Mull.

In the west coast we cost we managed to see the dark walls of Gylen Castle, a prime spot for a stop in a better day.

The return home offered an opportunity to taste the sea food kiosks in Oban, delicious!!    José Santos        More Photos……….
Club members: Pete Thomas, Caz, Mike Alter, Ian Bell, Andy, John, José Santos


Saturday - Glencoe Ski Resort

 

On Saturday morning I got a lift to Glencoe quite excited to get skiing as I haven't done it in over a year since I finished school and I love to ski, so was very happy to receive the Email about it. We got to the mountain and hired the gear and ski pass and I felt that the boots were oddly uncomfortable, they were different from boots I'd had before so I decided to try and get over it.

 

However the pain kept growing and even on the ski lift sitting down my legs were in agony, I went down a nice blue still in so much pain that I couldn't make basic turns. Once I had finished another skier from the group pointed out that a part of my boot was on the tightest setting and he fixed it and I was in absolute relief! Of course I had put the boots on the tightest setting to the extent I had a print of the boots in my legs. Once fixed, skiing was much more fun as I went down the same blue run I was able to do 360's and jumps down the piste.

 

The mountain was a little strange compared to where I usually ski in Austria as the mountains are completely white from snow yet in Scotland there are spectacular views of the locks and green fields below the white of the pistes. Near the end of the day we began skiing from the summit which was quite challenging but the real challenge was coping with the visibility as it was almost completely white from the clouds.  We hoped that the clouds would clear a little but it was still fun with the extra challenge of not seeing where we were skiing. All in all a really enjoyable day for everyone involved and guaranteed good nights sleep !

 

Ciaran Fahey  More Photos…….

 

Saturday - Middle Spean to Spean Bridge

The water levels were high and chilly with all the melt water. The initial rapid woke us up with a fast bouncy flow before the river widened into gentle meanders and views of snow topped mountains.  All the water made the rapids floatable, although plenty of hidden rocks kept everyone alert. Before the hike up the river bank to the Mill everyone took on surprise drop with a high rate of success from the group - nothing like a little ice cream head to complete the day. 

 

Jenny Brown  More Photos………

 

Saturday in the Sound of Shuna (Castle Stalker)

 

Saturday saw us along with Colin, Sharon and Jordan on the Sound of Shuna.  The original idea was to paddle as far as Port Appin.  Going between the mainland and Shuna Island we got as far as Castle Stalker and stopped for a drink and (more) Chocolate Brownies.  The desire to get to Port Appin seemed to dwindle, so we headed back to our put in.  I think that our flat water sea paddling was a bit tame for our 13 year old companion Jordan, but he didn’t complain.  I don’t suppose the sighting of an Otter and a Seal was high on his list of amazing things that day.  It was really quite misty and damp, with little evidence of any sunshine.

 

Sue Hamilton

YouTube link for the paddle to Castle Stalker…..                                                       More Photos…..

 

 

 

Sunday 5th April Glencoe Skiing

Caz, Fiona, Andy and myself set off for Glencoe on a glorious warm and sunny Sunday morning, and the weather would stay like this for the rest of the day.  After getting kitted out and up on the slope I soon realised that what I had been teaching myself the day before (it was the first time I had skied) was all wrong.  After an hour or so's coaching off the other 3, I did 3 runs from the top of the single chair lift back down to the cafe with varying degrees of success, whilst they went further up the mountain to do some of the harder runs. 

 

We met up later for lunch then back onto the runs I had been doing earlier and this time we all stayed together.  I think it would be far to say that my skiing towards the end of the day was so much better than the morning and would like to say a big thanks to the others for their assistance.  I enjoyed the skiing so much that I'm going back to Glencoe with some of the guys from work next week and I'm looking forward to next years trip.  See you all there.

 

Tony Doyle  More Photos….

 

Joe Sheppard’s Video of the White Water Action from the Bank Holiday Weekend

 

Scotland 2015 Kayaking: Six Pipes, Cheese Hedgehogs and a Silver Fox.  Here is the edit from the Liverpool canoe club trip to Scotland over Easter, it was AWESOME.  
 Video of the White Water from the Blackwater Hostel Easter Weekend Click here……

 

Sunday 5th April Glen Etive

Quite possibly the finest canoeing river in Scotland. The Etive commands cult status among paddlers. This is not a river to be recommended for beginners as it requires a good competence of technical paddling. Access is from the Triple Falls. This is probably the preferred access point for most as it marks the start of a truly remarkable stretch of river. From here to Dalness falls and slides of which most are paddleable are pretty much continuous. All the falls are grade 4 or harder and inspection and bank support would be recommended for all. This section is normally run in low water conditions and is most pleasant in late spring with the sun shining...after all those photos won't come out so well otherwise! In high water this section is very dangerous.

Triple Falls (Grade 4): You won't be surprised to learn that there are indeed three falls here in this superb rapid. The first two have to be run together (the second may have quite a stopper in anything less than low levels). The third drop is a four metre plunge which really clears the sinuses and gives 'down time' if the river is flowing well....

Block Falls (grade 4): This drop of about 10 feet has a number of boulders close to the base of the drop and a slot on the lip which can trap a kayak. Normal route is towards the left. This fall is worth looking closely at if you don't want broken ankles. Also known as 'Letterbox'.

Ski Jump falls (Grade 3-4): A straightforward spout propels you out the way and a landing on your bum. Interesting.

Crack of Doom (Grade 4): Boulders lead to a drop sideways into a fissure quickly followed by an 8 foot fall into a clean pool. Catches many people out, perhaps one of the most technically difficult rapids?

Crack of Dawn (Grade 4): A 10 foot drop into a mini gorge. The water at the bottom is rather shallow not to mention the close proximity of the rockface in front where the river takes a turn. The fall recently collapsed (Easter 2000) on river left allowing a tight route which bounces off boulders. In spring 2002 it collapsed again, and becomes more or less runnable from one year to the next...inspect.

The Great Waterslide (Grade 4): A ramped fall with a small drop to finish (15 feet). Nice playhole halfway down if you're awake to catch it.

Right Angle Falls (Grade 5?): An awkward right angle drop around a rock dog-leg leads into a small eddy on the brink of a long fall. There is much potential for a pin at the right angle and it can be tricky to get out so bank support essential. A capsize in the eddy is not advisable! The fall itself is the largest and most scary to this point. The drop is about 20 feet and can create what can be a severe boil at the bottom. The unwary can get into quite a bit of bother here and rescues are not overly simple. We had to deal with a swimmer with a dislocated arm here (don't run the fall with arms outstretched!). Boofs are painful here(!)

A final drop on a right-hand corner (nice boof spot) followed by a narrow rapid leads below a bridge to the get out at the confluence of the Allt a' Chaorainn...

 

Adam on Tripple steps

The Team just after “Crack of Doom”

Roy takes on Right Angle Falls

 

 More Photos…….

 

Easter Sunday 5th April Shuna /Sheep Islands /Port Apin - 19Km

 

You know what it’s like – you go to the pub for some grub and the next thing you’re in a round and have swallowed so much of the Irish black medicine that there’s no way you’re legal to drive the next day, especially with the new draconian dinky drivy laws that Scotland adopted last year.  Caz and I normally share the drinking and the driving but my shotgun and spouse had only skiing in mind.

 

A fine morning dawned and found me wandering round the hostel car park breathing Guinness fumes over everyone trying to coax someone to point my car at a paddling venue. I had hoped to head down to a put-in somewhere near Easdale but it was getting later and later in the day and things were looking desperate.

 

Finally, crawling out of his pit came my saviour José who had slept in but still wanted to go paddling. After shovelling a healthy breakfast down his throat, José and I loaded his gear onto my car set off at around 1130.

We still had Easdale in mind but soon after leaving Ballachulish, we ran into a thick fog belt that pretty much obliterated everything on the sea. By the time we got close to Shuna Island, the fog had begun to dissipate and so we decided to make the best of the day and paddle in these familiar waters.  Convinced he was going to get photo of the month in the atmospheric setting, José packed his big expensive camera while I tried to get a good polish on my bald patch so I could look as good as possible on camera!

 

The sea was like a mirror as we cut through it heading out towards the small Sheep Islands close to the northern end of Lismore. Before long we spotted a couple of Porpoise bobbing up and down oblivious to our presence. The fog had all but cleared and revealed a spectacular view of Ben Nevis further north and a few kittiwakes doing what they do on the sea.

 

Although José had only recently eaten his breakfast, it was hours since I had mine so I persuaded him that a short break for lunch was in order in a bay at the northern tip of Lismore. As we approached the bay we were joined by a family of seals who took interest in us for a while. All was quiet and calm and the view from the bay showed Scotland off at its very best. I was due to fly to Spain in a couple of days to paddle the Costa Brava and I found myself doubting that it would ever be as beautiful as Scotland on such a fine Spring day.

 

After our short break we set off towards Port Apin where we found the tide beginning to run at a pace. Pushing through the swirling waters we got within a few meters of Port Apin but decided not to land as we each had been there before. Instead, we turned to follow the tide back towards our put-in. Just as we did so we met another paddler who we chatted to for a while, drifting on the flood tide. He was a Scott and was intent on heading to the Port Apin hotel for a drink. Something I would never contemplate doing!!!! Well, maybe just one.

 

Castle Stalker is picture postcard perfect, especially on such a nice day, and without touching any of the submerged rocks that surround it, José managed to circumnavigate the whole castle in order to take even more photo of the month contenders. A heron stood posing for us so, cameras at the ready, we stalked it carefully so as not to disturb it from fishing for its lunch.

 

The flood tide and freshening following wind whizzed us towards my car and, as the increasing waves lapped the cobbled shoreline, we packed up and headed back to the hostel with a sober version of me at the wheel of the car.

 

Ever the gourmet, José suggested a tapas at a seafood restaurant he had been spying out on the northern shore of Loch Leven. It was much posher than expected even though it started life as a fish processing outfit. We sat outside and ordered some razor clams, some scallops and a couple of beers. What a way to end a great day.

 

Pete Thomas and José Santos        More Photos…….

 

Monday Lower Orchy - Mon 6 April

 

It was too nice to go home, and seeing as Jenny and Chris needed to fill some time we decided to sneak another river in on the way home.

 

We seal launched into the river just below the falls or Orchy and straight away we were upon the first weir and resultant play wave. Much surfing and attempted spins followed.

After many big smiles we journeyed the 20m to the next little weir and stopper. Where much surfing and side surfing occurred to much smiling.

After that, it was about another 50m to the next play spot where again much playing and laughing occurred.

 

The next rapid was a little bit unexpected, ie we had forgotten about it, and it was with great surprise that the waves and holes were considerable stronger than our laid back paddling was expecting. But hey, we got through without problem and enjoyed surfing the bottom wave in the sunshine.

 

All too soon we met Leanne who had been minding the cars for us. So it was time to get out and have a picnic in the sunshine on the well placed picnic table beside the cars. 

A superb end to a superb holiday!

 

Mike Alter

Mike Alter, Ian Bell, Andy Garland, Leanne Murray, Chris, Jenny & Bertie Big Bus.

 

The sun was out again and the river was quiet with only a few LCC paddlers determined to prolong their stay in Scotland and take kit home wet. A warm 3km stretch of river, with gentle rapids offering a friendly play wave at the bottom of each and the odd hidden rock to make sure someone had to roll, led to a perfectly positioned picnic bench for lunch in the sun before the drive home. Jenny Brown

 

Next Years Trip has already been booked for the earlier Easter Weekend (24th – 28th March 2016).  You can book a place now on the booking form…..

 

21/04/14 The Tees Barrage Sunday 20th April (With the Jackson Duo)

 

After an early start to collect the Duo from the pool 13 paddlers from LCC met up at the barrage.   James and Kurt were there with some of the Tees regulars. The short course was running and I wanted to use the duo but had no offers of a partner so Andy Boyd volunteered. Two laps of the short course and my deck popped twice. Others were keen to have a go and myself, Sarah, Kurt and Mark swopped about to use the Duo. Andy and Anthony then showed us how to do some 360s on the waves.

 

The course itself was running hard as even the locals were saying Acid drop was particularly sticky and claimed a lot of boats and swimmers.   A quick break for lunch and then back on.  I had a swim after paddling lazy and getting dragged back in to a hole, see the video below…..

 

Sarah and I then got in the Duo, but half way round my deck popped again and we ended up backwards going down the course, through Acid drop and eventually getting to the side, both screaming all the way.    Top day out, great laugh, great fun and can't wait to do it all again.

 

John Cooke

 

 

 

19/04/14 Easter Sunday at the docks – Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Whilst Julie, Ged, John and Craig did some distance paddling in their kayaks Phil and myself thought we'd try out the paddle boards.

We paddled down to the Albert Dock and back and then spent the rest of the morning at the slipway getting used to the paddle boards.

 

The day concluded with a drink and bowl of chips in the Marina.   Penny (our new pup) had already been treated by the staff to a big plate of roast ham from the carvery.

 

John Fay    More Photos…..

 

 

19/04/14 Hilbre Paddle 18th April 2015

 

Having joined Liverpool Canoe club around 18 months and immediately signing up with Pete Thomas’ Sea Kayak course I found myself booked onto “HIS” Hilbre paddle. This was, I guess, intended to give some real experience to “US” novices, which it certainly did.

The conditions were very good, but to a novice a little scary at times. Particularly the “Dreaded Overfalls” at the North end of the island. I got back to the Marina absolutely knackered, but truly pleased to have managed it.

The club have run a few other Hilbre trips since that one, but I have been unable to attend for one reason or another.

Karl Tattum, (our club SURFING EXPERT) advertised a Hilbre trip on 18th April. Now most of you may know that in all my paddling exploits I have two people to look after me. It’s actually like being in a care home for the elderly only these are just about the same age as me. For this trip I was to be on my own due to the ladies having previous commitments.(I wonder why??)

Sue did end up there in spirit though.(Later)

Karl had assured me that I would be adequately looked after and that the pace would be manageable. (slow and steady wins the race K.T.)

 

With only 11mph Easterly winds forecast and a lovely bright sunny day it promised to be the sort of paddle that I dream of. The boats were being put in at West Kirby Sailing Club. The slip is used by the RNLI and just as I had got my backside in the boat a yell came from behind, “CLEAR THE SLIP----CLEAR THE SLIP” now as it is a pretty big area I couldn’t believe that it was me blocking someone’s passage and I understand that it wasn’t. A vehicle had parked and stopped the inshore Lifeboat getting out to a “Shout”

Right, so I’m in the boat and on the water. A few last minute words of comfort from Karl and then I’m told to just follow the guy in the red boat. Now the guy in the red boat is Adrian and I know full well that there is no chance at all of my keeping up with him-----------But surprise, surprise the pace was really manageable and with 15 other boats on the water I didn’t really miss my normal “Carers”

As I have just noted, there were 15 other boats----------but 16 other people. One had Danny Byrne in a two man, ably assisted by his Son (the Navigator) What a brilliant experience for a youngster, so much better than playing games on computers!!!

 

We passed Little Eye in a very short time and soon after were within spitting distance of the beach at the South end of Hilbre. Two others had decided to give the “Overfalls” a miss and I joined them on the beach.

Tony Robinson had become very dehydrated and needed a drink--------My own thoughts exactly.

The hardy bunch that went for the paddle round the island soon appeared at the beach and assistance was offered and accepted, with getting the boats up onto the sloping beach.

Colin Smith came to the beach, but declined to exit his boat and went off somewhere else alone.

Sue had made the “CHOCOLATE BROWNIES” the previous night to be with us in spirit and they were doled out and gratefully accepted.

Having got rid of that weight, the boat should be faster now???

After a coffee, butties and some water we started back. I had Karl with me most of the way and certainly towards the end of the trip I was in conversation with him regarding a joint passion-------Motorbikes. I’m afraid that our pace slowed somewhat recounting various experiences, but it was a funny thing, my thoughts about where we were and what we were doing was totally forgotten.

 

We had spoken about maybe practicing a rescue, but with water resembling OXTAIL SOUP, I decided that I’d not mention it.

All in all a great day on the water, with a great bunch of people.

Adrian is shortly running a course to assist with bettering  paddle strokes. I think he must want me to assist--------he knows skill when he sees it, Ha Ha.

The Paddlers (in no order)

 

Karl Tattum, Tony Robinson, Adrian Mould, Pete Thomas, Carole Thomas, Mike Bell, Colin Smith, Mike Alter, Mark Moore, Danny Byrne and son, Chris Fletcher, Tony Bennet, Dave Blake,             John Allerton, Bob Hamilton and one other, whose name I unfortunately do not have.

 

Thanks to everyone    Bob Hamilton        More Photos…..

 

19/04/14 Scottish paddling weekend

We “did” the Easter weekend last year and could not believe how great the weather was.  It was with some fear and trepidation that we booked on for this year’s trip.  After all, it is Scotland and the only thing for certain are the Midges in summer and the rain????  Well despite our fears the weather was, again, brilliant.  We did get some of the “Scots Mist”, but not enough   to cause us any problems at all.

We had the same room as last year (the old folks’ retreat) in the Blackwater Hostel.  Roy has found a real Gem of a place there and being able to book the entire hostel is a real bonus.  There were fewer Sea Kayakers this year - I guess it is really a Mecca for the WW Crowd.  We (the three stooges) paddled in three really pleasant sea locations, with plenty of interesting bits.

 

Friday in Arisaig

 

Friday saw us head for Arisaig.  There were 9 paddlers - Ian Bell, Mike Alter, John Pegram, José Santos, Carole Thomas, Pete Thomas, Irene Jackson and Bob & Sue Hamilton.  We headed initially for a “put in” at a boat yard, but that was changed for a beach around the headland.  Parking was a little tight, but the local farmer was helpful and not at all obstructive.

 

 

We had to get the boats over a muddy slope and then down the beach about 200 metres to the water.  The mud succeeded in pulling off both of my lightweight water shoes so I feel something better is needed soon!  The area is an absolute delight, with tons of interesting islands to meander through.

 

It became a little windy here and we took shelter for a few minutes, before proceeding to a likely-looking beach for a drink, butties and the obligatory Chocolate Brownies, but the beach was not as hospitable as it had looked in the distance and the wind was quite cold for standing around.  We decided to head back and for a short time we did just that - it was a dream, we were going with the wind and tide and it was effortless.

 

 

Then with a little change of plan (??) we headed out from the shelter and into some slightly less enticing (to me anyway) open sea.  Ian asked each of us our feelings about the conditions and we agreed to give it a go.  But not for very long!  The decision was made to return to the shelter and I for one was quite happy to do so.  The paddle back to the put in was great, but uneventful.

 

 

However, as our boats are transported on the top of the van and a ladder is needed to get them up there, I had a brilliant view of the sea state just before we left to return to the Hostel.

 

Boy, was I glad that we had opted to come back inside the shelter.  I wish I had thought to get a photo!         More Photos…..

                                                                                                   

Saturday in the Sound of Shuna (Castle Stalker)

 

Saturday saw us along with Colin, Sharon and Jordan on the Sound of Shuna.  The original idea was to paddle as far as Port Appin.  Going between the mainland and Shuna Island we got as far as Castle Stalker and stopped for a drink and (more) Chocolate Brownies.  The desire to get to Port Appin seemed to dwindle, so we headed back to our put in.  I think that our flat water sea paddling was a bit tame for our 13 year old companion Jordan, but he didn’t complain.  I don’t suppose the sighting of an Otter and a Seal was high on his list of amazing things that day.  It was really quite misty and damp, with little evidence of any sunshine.

 

YouTube link for the paddle to Castle Stalker…..                                                       More Photos…..

 

 

 

Sunday to Glenuig

Sunday was a lovely sunny day and the journey to Glenuig was a dream.  We had decided that we would not put in at the Glenuig Hotel, as there seemed to be better alternatives on the roadside before that.

 

We did in fact go to the hotel, but as the tide was ebbing fast and the water was already a good way out, we opted for our original plan and put in on the slip across the bay.   Surprisingly ?????? the tide was going out just as fast over there and some fancy footwork was needed to get the three boats and paddlers in without mishap.

 

 

Once securely in the kayaks we headed out of the bay and towards Roshven.  We then headed out towards Eilean nan Gobhar and stayed to the East side of this and then on to the beach in front of Peanmeanach Ruins.  More coffee and Chocolate Brownies set us up for the paddle past the West side of Eilean nan Gobhar.  The sea state was very manageable, but just a bit more than flat calm and the journey back was completed quite quickly.   To our dismay however, we found the end of the slip to be about a metre above the surface of the water so had some fun rock-hopping around the group of rocks in Glenuig Bay until it became manageable to clamber out onto the slip.

 

YouTube link to Glenuig paddle….                                                 More Photos………

 

 

The drive back was very pleasant in glorious sunshine.  The traffic was very light for a Bank Holiday weekend (both ways), but we hit some delays around Morecambe on the way home.

 

 

All in all a brilliant few days away – so a big THANK YOU to Roy for the overall organisation of the weekend and to all our companions on day 1 at Arisaig for their assistance, encouragement and support.

 

Bob Hamilton

 

 

18/04/14 Short video of yesterdays antics on the river Trywern  - John Cooke   Click here……

18/04/14 April Newsletter from British Canoeing

 

In this month's issue:
The World Champs are coming!
Go Canoeing news
This Girl Can
Lifeguard courses

 

 

 

Click here to view……….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18/04/14 Doubtful Sound New Zealand.

 

Without a doubt… a kayak trip on Doubtful Sound in Fiordland, New Zealand is one of the best paddles I have ever been on.

 

Google Maps reckons the put in at Deep Cove (pop:2) is approx 11,686m away from my home in Formby, however just to get to Deep Cove is a story in itself.

 

New Zealand is two islands which are long and thin; tropical at the top of the North Island and wild and mountainous at the bottom of South Island. After arriving in Auckland and settling in (getting over jet lag), I chose to fly down to Queenstown to start my trip. I didn't fancy multiple bus trips and lugging gear back and forth so I booked ahead and stayed at YHNZ hostels, which are great value for money.

 

So.. fly down to Queenstown 2hrs … up at 6am for a 2hr bus journey south to Te Anau, where I would stay another night and go to a pre trip briefing at 4pm. Met the rest of the people who would be on the trip; Carol and Annie from Melbourne, Josh from Kansas City, Matt and Elle from Manchester, Morag from Ottawa and Laura, a gap year student from S London. They were fitted up with long john wetsuits, safety forms filled out and we were given the outline of what would be happening on the trip. I opted to take my paddle and gear from the UK, which was inspected and passed for safety.

 

‘We expect a forecast of F4-5 wind, maybe F6 and 0.5>1m waves in the fiord tomorrow…’ a few heads looked a bit concerned….’but don’t worry the boats are really stable there’ll be no problems…’

‘Has everyone got some insect repellent.. the sand flies are likely to be a problem…’

‘You may need waterproofs….’

‘Awesome, great guys, go out sort your food + drink and we’ll see you at 6am tomorrow….’

So back into YHNZ Te Anau (a sleepy little town) for a beer and a meal and an early night.

 

 

Day 1

 Up with the lark, gear bagged, the mini bus arrived, driven by Keith our guide, picked people up loaded up the trailer, and we made our way to Manapouri, 45km away to get on the ferry which would take us over Lake Manapouri. It was still dark. We loaded all our gear onto trolleys, which went onto the boat, and off we went, witnessing one of the most stunning sunrises I have ever seen.

 

We got off the ferry at Pearl Harbour; (surely not) … at a visitor centre which explains the workings of the Manapouri power station; which is similar to Electric Mountain, Llanberis; they dug a cave, installed machinery, drilled holes, fitted turbines and generate electricity…for 14% of New Zealand. We also encountered sandflies for the first time…slapped on lots of repellent and lugged the gear onto a small coach which would take us over Wilmot Pass, a mountain pass road between Deep Cove and Lake Manapouri…..

 

‘Begin your adventure with a 30km cruise across beautiful Lake Manapouri, the 2nd deepest lake in NZ, before crossing the Southern Alps via the spectacular 22km drive over the Wilmot Pass Road into Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound, stopping at all our favourite photo stops along the way….

 

 

This is the blurb for the day trippers who pay £110 to go on a day cruise….it doesn't mention that once you get to the top of the pass you descend into an area that gets 8m+ rainfall over 200 days each year and you will likely be in mist and rain for the rest of the trip. Nice views of trees and bush at the side of the road though. Descending into Deep Cove (pop:2), a bit of wow factor started to creep in…mountains all around us some higher than Ben Nevis…we made our way to the storage area unloaded the gear, and carried the double sea kayaks down to waters edge to load them up. You take your own food and cooking pots, all other gear is supplied by Go Orange…stoves, tents, sleeping mats, shelters, chairs and toilet paper.

 

All changed up, we sorted paddle partners out and carried the boats to the water… they were heavy.

 

I’ve never been in a double, but soon found the boat (Sea Bear a NZ make) good to paddle, stable and very comfortable. And a considerable load carrier too.

We set off with another party of portly Americans who were going to do a short overnight paddle/camp…

 

 Conditions picked up at the first headland and the wind picked up into a headwind that was causing the other party serious problems as we overtook them, we later learned they had turned back after 2km opting for a night in a hostel at Deep Cove (pop:2) and a lake cruise the next day..

 

We pressed on, heads down paddling hard, but the headwind as forecasted was picking up and we were bouncing through the waves and some of the others were getting tired, so Keith the Guide (KTG) decided we would camp at the end of Hall Arm, the closest one, for the night.

 

The mountains are big here, and it is a committing place. There are very few get outs and camping areas, and a guide is essential. Go Orange have the concession to kayak on the sound from Deep Cove, and it would be very expensive and difficult to get access unless you came in by the sea inlet, as you could not hire kayaks at Deep Cove. In fact the camp areas are very hard to find, surrounded by jungle and bush; I’ve looked for them on Google Earth with no luck. We stopped once on a small beach for a pitstop but the sandflies were definitely becoming a nightmare for some of the team.

 

Finally we landed by a stream coming through the bush, and KTG led us up a track to….a campsite!…well some flat gravel patches big enough to pitch a tent and further away, a long drop toilet and sandflies. Lots of sandflies…but joy of joys…a bug shelter big enough for everyone to pile into with our food, cooking equipment and the chairs, where we spent the night after putting up the tents (top quality Macpac and Thermarest mats) and changing into warm dry clothes. At this time I felt a bit smug, not relishing having to put on a damp wetsuit

 

Then it started to rain. And it didn't stop for another 24 hours.

 

You can’t light campfires on Doubtful Sound trips. Well you could if you took dry fuel

with you and you could get it to light in the rain, but that would spoil the fun of being in one of the wettest places in New Zealand, and the rain does have a certain soporific

effect in lulling you to sleep in the tent at night.

 

We drank cider and talked of our experiences of NZ, some of the others were walking the Kepler and Milford Tracks on our return to Te Anau, and Morag was cycling around the rest of South Island.

 

Day Two

Putting on my wet paddling gear in the rain at 7-30, dodging the sandflies to the shelter, we breakfasted, broke camp, loaded the boats and hauled them down to the waters edge. There is a 2.5 tidal range, so they needed to be brought inland at night. We were on the water for 9am, aiming to reach the next campsite at the far end of Crooked Arm 36km away. It was still raining, however this had the advantage of filling up Lake Browne at the top of the mountains, which then overspills as spectacular 600m waterfalls into the sound.

 

Doubtful Sound is a sea fiord, the top layer 2-10m deep depending on rainfall is fresh water with a lower layer of sea water down to 400m deep in places. The water is very dark due to the tannins washed into it. It is home to a pod of bottlenose dolphins that never leave the sound. There are also fur seals, Fiordland penguins, and sometimes sperm, humpback and minke whales and even orca.

 

We did not encounter any of these. In fact the wildlife was pretty scarce, even birdlife…doh. However the sheer scenery compensates for this. Just once, it stopped raining for a few minutes, and the rainbows appeared, then it started to rain again….

 

Landing spaces are few and far between, normally a small shale beach where a river emerges from the hills. The sandflies here are ferocious, and I was slapping on ‘Smidge’ repellent frequently. We only stopped once for a quick lunch and pit stop.

 

On arrival at Crooked Arm it was boat haul, tents up, gear off and a mad scramble to erect the bug shelter and get a tarp over it asap….it was pissing down, the sandflies had got together on the jungle telegraph and descended to feast upon us. As we were eating, KTG told us the next day plan…alarm at5-15am, on the water for 6-30 for the final 32km back to Deep Cove to make the 3pm ferry…ugh.

 

Day Three

Miraculously it stopped raining in the night, which made the task of breaking camp in the dark and loading the boats slightly more enjoyable, but it was brilliant setting off on smooth water with just the outlines of the mountains on either side of us, and as the dawn broke we had the whole place to ourselves, which made me feel pretty small in this part of creation.

 

John Lyttleton, Governor of New Zealand:

This is big country; one day peaceful, a study in green and blue, the next melancholy and misty with low cloud on the tops….an awesome place with granite precipices, hanging valleys, earthquake faults and thundering cascades….

 

Arriving back at Deep Cove the boats were unloaded, gear stowed away on the trailer, and we went back over Wilmot Pass to meet the ferry. At the top the weather was glorious and we stopped to take pictures of Doubtful Sound in all its glory. A fabulous trip out in the wilderness. But no dolphins.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doubtful_Sound

 

Mike Bell   More Photos…..     
 
www.cedarboats.co.uk

 

06/04/15 The Burrs, Sunday 5th April

On the 5th of April Paul, I, Kieran, Karl, Keenan Mike and Ian went on a trip to the Burrs in Bury. Bury has a wonderful landscape and has a country park that has a huge weir. Bury is located in the north of Manchester.

Karl arrived at my house with Keenan and Kieran. My dad came out with me, and Karl followed us the forty minute journey to Bury. We all met up at the Burrs Country Park to have a look around the area to see what the water was like, the main reason was so we all could go to the toilet.

Kieran, Mike and Ian went to walk over to the weir whilst I, Paul, Karl and Keenan paddled to the weir via the canal. We beat them!!!

We carried our boats to the weir and seal launched into the water and paddled around so we could wait for the other people to get in. Kieran slid down the weir and then I went down I got blasted with water then watched the others paddle over the weir and get blasted with water.

My dad said that the weir was too strong so we moved on to the next wave I, t was more of a weir. It was called the broken weir because it was broken. We were all ferry gliding and surfing the wave. When I surfed the wave I flipped over and got smashed into a rock but luckily Kieran caught me and I came out of the boat. I pushed my boat onto an island and swam across the current and sat on the weir with Kieran.

 Karl said that we needed to move on to the next wave. We all paddled over to the next wave. My dad said that the wave was only between the two rocks, but it wasn’t. Maybe the next rock, no. The next rock it was a huge wave and the bottom of my boat was scraped. I paddled over to the eddy and did some ferry glides and flipped the back end up on the rock where the water was flowing over it. Kieran was laying in the water with his boat vertical.

We moved to a faster narrower drop and it had a hole that was great for surfing and doing stern squirts. I pushed Ian and Mike into the wave and then I surfed it. I fell out of the wave almost instantly and glided to the eddy on the other side. We moved on to the other wave because we would be there all night!

The next wave was like Four Mile Bridge-a huge V shape. The water was very strong and I did a lot of stern squirts in the current and another two people came down, they wondered how I did the squirts, I said that you just needed to lean back when you are ferry gliding. My dad doesn’t like being vertical in a wave.

Keenan didn’t do much in the waves but he enjoyed the trip to the Burrs. Everyone enjoyed the trip to the Burrs and wants to come back again.

By Harvey Harwood (age 10)   More photos…….

30/03/15 April 2015 Newsletter Published 
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