Volume 16 Issue 4

April 2016

April Paddler
The monthly newsletter of Liverpool Canoe Club

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Archived Newsletters… 
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1/4/16 Major dates for Club Events – for more detail check the online Club Calendar…….

2 - 17 April 2016

Nepal White Water Trip Coordinator Keith Steer Trip now full

9 - 16 April 2016

Croatia Sea Kayaking Trip Coordinator Andy Garland Trip now full

6 - 8 May 2016

Anglesey Weekend No 1 Tyn Rhos Click for more…… Coordinator Peter Massey   To book a place…

27 - 30 May 2016

Pembroke Bank Holiday Weekend Click for more…… Coordinator Jenny Brown  To book a place…

10 - 12 June 2016

Anglesey (Juniors) Weekend No 2 Pen-Y-Bont Farm Click for more…… Coordinator Keith Steer  To book a place….

3 July 2016

Hilbre Island Sea Kayak Race Click for more……

3 -12 July 2016

Scottish Sea Kayaking Trip coordinator Frankie Annan

15 – 17 July 2016

Anglesey Weekend No 3 Bodfan Farm Click for more…… Coordinator Jenny Brown   To book a place…

22 July – 7 August 2016

Alpine Summer Holiday Click for more…… Coordinator Keith Steer  

14 August 2016

Liverpool Triathlon – LCC Safety kayakers needed Click for more……

17 Aug – 2 Sept 2016

Alaskan Sea Kayaking Trip Coordinator Keith Steer Trip now full

16 – 18 Sept 2016

Anglesey Weekend No 4 Outdoor Alternative Click for more…… Coordinator Peter Massey To book a place…



1/4/16 March “Photo of the Month” Competition


Liverpool Canoe Club Photo Competition Winners

Congratulations to John Fay for his winning photo:

Sit on Top in front of Hilbre Island


Runner up Pete Thomas:

“Chris Wood Seal Launching as part of his two star Assessment”


Runner up John Fay:

Hibre Island Trip”

 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.
Please send in your entries for next month now - website@liverpoolcanoeclub.co.uk

1/4/16 Exploring the Dee Estuary from Connah's Quay


While driving along the A55, I've often looked down on the “new” bridge over the Dee estuary and thought it would be worth a closer inspection. A return trip from Flint seemed to be the obvious approach as is often done for the Conwy.  Unfortunately, Flint has nowhere to launch, not even for their lifeboat.

The next possibility is Connah's Quay where there is a sheltered concrete slipway right next to a free Council car park (with a 7' height limit).  Approaching the A548 bridge by water from this location would mean paddling into the tide for at least part of the journey.  Such a trip would need a calm day with a neap high tide in daylight hours, and preferably a gentle NW breeze to see me safely back to base.  The forecast for Thursday March 31st ticked all the boxes.


Although the slipway is sound, it does get a layer of silt which reduces the grip.  Walking up and down with a paddle for support is no problem, but I would not like to be carrying a boat as well.  On the only previous occasion when I have started from here, the skeg took ages to become free after my seal launch.  This time, I protected the rear of the boat with a couple of bin bags which were then rolled up and stowed away once afloat. Although I had no need for it yesterday, the skeg worked perfectly.


HW at Mostyn was 16:40, that being 82 mins before Chester. For safety, I decided to start the return trip no later than 16:30.  Having launched just before 15:30, the upstream flow around the dock wall was such that very little headway could be made, but the going proved to be easier on the inside of the bend at the opposite side of the river.  There's something very satisfying about a long ferry-glide which really does lead to easier water.  The headwind for much of this trip felt to be considerably more than the 9mph which had been forecast.  This would have been an Easy Surf day at Crosby.


By keeping close to the shore, I soon reached a marker which shows the height under the bridge.  As this was on the other side of the river, another ferry-glide was required.  To get this photo, I had to be in the main flow, which proved to be rather tricky while extracting the camera from its three layers of zipper bags.  I really must invest in a waterproof camera.


Immediately under the bridge is a stretch of shallow water which is separated from the main flow.  Although a good place from which to take this photo, I was unable to continue down this route on the outward journey due to insufficient water. 


The Welsh side of the estuary is very shallow.  To mark the limit of the main channel, there is a dilapidated pier-like construction with several starboard markers and too many cormorants to count.  For anyone interested in bird life, this would be a great place to visit as there are birds everywhere.  Even I was impressed by their variety and number.  


My final ferry-glide of the day got me over to the English side where the bank has been solidly constructed with stone and rubble.  They have even provided seating.  This shot was taken directly opposite Deeside Power Station.


Sticking to my plan, I started the return trip just before 16:30.  It was immediately evident that I had been overly cautious on my timings.  While speeding past the marker post with both wind and tide behind me, I could see that the water level was a full meter higher than on my outward trip.


Having regained Connah's Quay very easily, I continued upstream to have a play under the bridges.  The first one, which is for the railway, used to swing horizontally in former years but is no longer moveable.  The rails are carried on RSJs with only lightweight mesh between them; there are no sleepers as such.  The only part of the structure that is fully boarded is the walk/cycle path.  The building on the left has some poorly removed signs which reveal the legacy of British Steel and Corus.  The sign of the present owner now looks to be destined for a similar fate.


The next pair of bridges are for road traffic.  The first one used to arch upwards in two parts like Tower Bridge but has now been firmly welded shut.  The next one is for the A55, this being the lowest of all the bridges.  The lack of headroom apparently causes some difficulty for BAE when they float their Airbus wings down this stretch of the river.  This section is regularly dredged which could explain why the Bore rather died on me when I took a video at this point on Good Friday.



Although not intending to go any further, the flow tide was still present so it seemed a shame to turn back.  I therefore continued for a couple more miles to reach the BAE slipway.  The small boat which does the dredging can be seen here.  The larger barge, on which the A380 wings are carried, spends most of its time at Mostyn Docks.  My only hairy moment of the day was when attempting a slalom run around these mooring posts.  I edged the boat that little bit to far and very nearly end up in the soup!


Just before 18:00, the ebb tide finally started so I felt able to turn back.  Although there was still a brisk headwind, the increasing current allowed good progress to be made with minimal effort.  After some eddy-hopping around the bridge bases, I finally made it back to Connah's Quay at around 19:00.  It was a glorious sunny evening, and a real pleasure to be afloat.


Earlier in the afternoon, a local fisherman who was repainting his boat was telling me about a charity boat race from Connah's Quay to Chester on Sunday June 5th.   For anyone who fancies paddling this stretch of the river, but may be put off by its straightness, this event may be of interest.


by Robin Emley                                        More Photos…….


30/03/16 Liverpool Canoe Club -Scotland 2016




31/3/16  2 Fresh. 1 Salty and a Snowy


Good Friday Fresh Water

For Carole and I, the annual Scottish Easter Holiday kicked off on Friday morning with a paddle down the middle Orchy (grade 3 - 4) http://www.paddlepoints.net/PaddlePoints.aspx?PaddlePointId=749 . It was our first white water trip since the club paddle down the Dee from Carrog Bridge at the end of January so we were looking forward to getting on a river again. A big group left the Blackwater Hostel http://www.blackwaterhostel.co.uk/ and drove up the stunningly beautiful Glen Coe and over Rannoch More to our put-in at Bridge Of Orchy. After the usual shuttle dance with the cars, we split into manageable groups and got on the water.


Each river leader had slightly different ideas and, while some spent some time coaching on the decent, others “smashed it” and got down much quicker.


With high pressure dominating our weather for over a week, the level was a bit low so some of the features contained more rocks to bounce off than was ideal. Everyone seemed to cope and the result was only a handful of swims. Despite the chilly water temperature and wind, it was a really great return to white water paddling.


The group I was in was very ably led by Keith Steer and Ian Bell but other notables also kept everyone in our group in check. The incident that sticks out most in my memory is when Dom Fahey took a dip and his boat got pinned on a rock. What followed was a great display of white water safety and rescue skills. Ian live baited out to the boat on a back line but couldn’t quite get near enough. From the opposite side of the river, Keith was without bank support so made a leap of faith for a nearby boulder. His aim was good and he climbed over it to budge Dom’s boat back into play. The FSRT training we did recently enabled me to play a part helping to collect the paddling debris and boat from below the feature.


The Orchy is almost a park and play river with a good road running very close to most of the features. This also means that it’s a relatively easy portage around some of the stuff that looks nasty while also giving a great view of the brave souls having a go at running the grade 5 monsters.


A fantastic trip, quite long for Scotland, and I went back to the hostel tired but buzzin’


Paddlers – lots of us


Salty Saturday

Because a number of us had driven up with an armoury of toys, six of us headed off to do a sea trip. The forecast was decidedly mixed up but it was clear that wild conditions weren’t too far away. The local forecast was for rain and variable winds so we opted for a nearby trip that Carole and I have done quite a few times.


We got on the water close to Polanach on the Oban road and padded off on a windless sea towards Shuna. Low cloud and drizzle was hanging in the shallow corries and it was obvious that it wasn’t going to be the greatest day from a “scenic views” perspective.


Trevor Strain was with us and, although he’s paddled quite a bit in the past, he’s only recently joined the club and got back into it. This was his first ever sea trip so we all watched him carefully to make sure someone was at hand to fish him out quickly should he take a dip. As it happened he did very well ..... but more of that later.


Leaving Shuna close by to our left, we paddled through some small skerries where there are normally plenty of birds and seals and even some porpoise to be seen. With Easter being so early this year, the birds were in short supply but we did spy a few seals. By the time we reached a beach on the north eastern end of Lismore, Trevor was showing signs of tiring so we had a decent lunch break to help him recover. He had hired a Delphin from the club racks and, even with a variety of skeg positions, found it difficult to keep it in a straight line even in the almost none-existent zephyr of a breeze. We suggested altering the trim of the boat by packing it differently but the wind had piped up to f3 by the time we had finished our lunch so the game had changed.


Back on the water again, we headed off towards Port Appin with small waves hitting us beam on. Again, we all watched Trevor anticipating a swim but he kept upright all the time and did very well in the “tippy” conditions. I knew there was a pub on the beach in Appin so mentioned this to Trevor and it became obvious that he wanted to head in for a warm and a rest while the rest of us completed the trip. After lifting his boat way up above the tide and seeing him safely into the pub, the remaining 5 of us headed up in very little tide and crossed out of the harbour and out in the rain towards the southern tip of Shuna and then back up the sound to our cars. For those with sharp eyes, a whacking big otter was spotted scurrying across the pebble beach and into the water.


Returning to the pub to collect Trevor we were grateful for the round he bought and it was evident that the rest (and the whiskey) had revived him.


Paddlers – Carole Thomas / David Rider / Anthony Vaccaro / Don Brooks / Trevor Strain / Pete Thomas

Lower Etive Sunday

This section is often overlooked by the middle section where most paddlers head.  However, the lower Etive is well worth a paddle.  It`s where things happen at a much more leisurely pace. Fun surf waves and small holes frequent the first couple of miles of this section before you arrive quite unexpectedly at a short grade 4 section. However, as it is the only part of this section where the river disappears from view it should be easy to spot. Access to the fall is easy for protection and a swim should be short and reasonably safe. We didn't read the guidebook properly and found the G4 (or maybe its 4+ or 5- at the level) when we observed the people in dancers ahead of us backlooping and swimming!

Several sticky holes precede this rapid across the river before the river disappears around a corner where the water is funnelled down a channel on river left. The main fall consists of two short drops in quick succession, which can be run through the guts in relative ease depending upon experience and length of boat.

Once past this section the river eases up and the rapids become more infrequent while the flat stretches grow longer and more frequent. It is worth noting that there is a lengthy paddle out on this section and adverse weather conditions should be taken into account eg. snow, hail etc.

This is an excellent beginner/ intermediate section although there is a hidden bonus for experienced paddlers...

Let me recommend the River Etive as arguably the best river for swimming in the UK. The pools are simply delicious. Dark, deep, plenty bombing and diving to be had. The waterfalls just add to the experience. If you catch a good spell of weather in April / May, the water should just heat up enough. One downside – midges. June to August, make sure you have your repellent at the ready. The scenery surrounding you as you take a look is simply stunning. -



Snowy Ski Sunday

Not only had many of us brought sea and white water boats but quite a few had also brought ski gear or had planned on hiring stuff up on the slopes.

We woke on Sunday morning to look out of the hostel window to see that a decent dusting of new snow had fallen during the night.


It had been 20 years since I wore my old ski mountaineering boots and touring skis but I had spent some time refurbishing them recently and was hopeful that they would last me for just one last piste bashing session. Unfortunately I was wrong and the boots were agony to wear and by the end of the day, I had bruised protuberances – painful!


Despite all that, the conditions were surprisingly good and even the sun came out quite frequently to help us. We were a mixed group of abilities and some had skis while some had snowboards. Glen Coe White Corries is a pretty small ski area so it’s very easy to meet up with everyone even though we were skiing different runs throughout the day.


By mid-afternoon most of us headed for the cafe and it was warm enough to sit outside and gaze up at the slopes. Being Easter Sunday, a lot of kids were there digging in the snow for hidden Easter eggs and, somehow or other, I’m sure I saw Sarah pop one in her mouth and feast on the illicit chocolate – maybe not, perhaps it was just my imagination.


A well worthwhile day on the piste which finished in a pleasant round of drinks and a meal in the well known Clachaig Inn https://www.clachaig.com/


Skiers – Carole Thomas, Kirk Williams, Chris Murphy, Sarah Gille, Leanne Murray, Ciaran Fahey, Trevor Strain, Adam Carey, Pete Thomas


Fresh Water Monday (with a pinch of salt)

Most people were heading home on Monday morning and I confess that both Carole and I were inclined to do the same ...... until Jenny Brown worked her magic and persuaded us to paddle the Awe, a friendly grade 1 - 3 (depending on levels) that’s more or less on the way home.


Putting in up at the Brander Barrage we paddled down in the spring sunshine. Any weariness that was felt back at the hostel was soon dispelled as we soaked up the pleasures of this delightful little river and Keith devised all sorts of fun and games which helped Carole and me get into the swing of things. He had us flaring of rocks, boofing and bashing about and even twirling paddles in one hand around our heads. Needless to say there were one or two spills when some of the more energetic moves were attempted but it was all great fun.


There are plenty of play features and friendly holes so it took us almost 3 hours to pick our way down the 6km.


Our get out was on the sea Loch Etive and, spitting distance from being home and dry, both Carole and I were heading for the same gap in nothing more than a tiny ripple of water. I had watched Ian being deflected by something underwater so knew that an obstruction was there. I’m not certain Carole had seen this but instead of paddling through, she hesitated for a moment and, even though I tried to back paddle, I hit what looked like a sharp rock (turned out to be part of a tree). My line wasn’t great and it flipped me and pinned me side on. Even though the water by this point was moving slowly, it held me fast and I couldn’t get myself free. By now my paddle was also pinned by something underwater so I couldn’t even try to lever myself out of the problem. Eventually Chris Thompson paddled back to me and swung my bow round so the boat was back in business. I was now underwater and banging my head on the bottom. I pulled my deck and swam to the nearby bank with my boat but minus my paddle. A search party set about trying to find it stuck to the bottom and sure enough it was eventually returned to me (pity really as I’ve been wanting an excuse to buy a nice new one).


Thanks to everyone for the fun and games and for freeing me from what might have been a long night out under the stars.


Paddlers – Keith Steer, Sara Bergqvist, Ian Bell, Carole Thomas, David Rider, Jenny Brown, Chris Thompson, Pete Thomas


Thanks a bunch to Roy McHale for arranging this again. It’s a fantastic venue whenever Easter falls so make sure you book on next year and bring lots of toys.


More Photos……


30/03/16  Crosby Surfers

A fantastic day at Crosby today. The best waves you'll see at Crosby. Well done Callum, you proved you can roll in the sea, unlike your Dad.



23/03/16 March Photo of the Month Competition – Please vote for your favourite Click for More.    


Lunch time in open boats

Seal Launch during 2 Star Assessment

Landing at Llandudno




Great Orme Paddle

Hilbre Island Sea Trip - Sit on Top

Hilbre Island Sea Trip - Sea Kayak




Club Ski Trip to Val Thorens







21/3/16 River Irewell (Burrs) White Water Race

Michal, Harvey and I went to Bury for our first WWR.  Michal hired a club Wavehopper. Harvey and I in my Traditional canoe and I also raced in My Spanish Fly.

The river was quite low so we took advantage of the weir before we got a few practice laps in. Never before have I seen so much water slam the bowman in the face. Poor Harvey was soaked. Michal couldn't resist this and jumped in with us for another run. three of us beached at the top of the weir, frantically rocking it back and forth hoping my canoe wouldn't snap, when suddenly it went and we ploughed about 8 feet deep into the water. Poor Harvey was underwater in the bow of the canoe. We didn't capsize but, we sank as we made it to shore.

WWR is quite simple. Each competitor starts at the top of the river and leave at 1 minute intervals. The aim is to get to the bottom of the section of river in the fastest time. You then have a 2nd run one hour later. After the two runs there is a team race.

Michal was first to race, and he complained of being unfit. I went second and I knew what he was talking about.

After our two runs, Harvey joined me in our Traditional canoe and Michal in his wavehopper. 

It was a fun day out with many slides down the weir.

Oh, and did I mention, I won the men's C1.

Paul Harwood (only one C1 entry, but first is first)  More Photos….

21/3/16 A New Wave of Aspirant Coaches for LCC


With so much sea and white water paddling activity going on recently, I was more than slightly envious as a number of us had already committed to some of the free courses arranged by our great coaches at LCC.


In case you’re not aware, there’s a new wave of LCC trained coaches going through the BCU system at the moment and a number of us hope to get our L1 qualification in the coming months.  Before that happens we have first of all had to brush up some paddling and rescue skills in sea, white water and open boats. All great fun and although some of the training has been done in the warm waters of the Widnes pool throughout the winter, quite a number of our sessions have taken place in the icy waters of the docks during February and March.


A full-on day recently with Keith Steer assessing us for our BCU 2* award, a pre-requisite, together with the FSRT assessment, before we could go forward for our coaching training. A sunny spring day saw us demonstrating our paddling and rescuing abilities. Weaknesses and imperfections became obvious and we were advised on which areas needed attention so we could demonstrate flawless “best practice” technique. Although we all passed, it was by no means a push-over for the majority of us and we have a lot of work to do before our coach training in the near future.


Again, for an entire day recently, 8 of us got wet and practiced a range of safety and rescue techniques in a wide variety of boats. What seemed relatively easy practicing in the pool began to feel much more difficult in the cold water but, because we were well practiced and briefed, all went relatively well and we all survived the day with only a few dents to our egos. We were ably assessed by Ian Bell, Keith Steer and Mark Garrod and “text book perfection” was expected from us aspirant coaches, not an easy ask and many of us struggled to get things spot on.  Although this proved difficult and physically demanding at times, we all managed to get through the assessment and learned a lot from our experience.


A valuable debrief at the end of each assessment highlighted our strengths and any weaknesses that needed some additional work before our 4 day coaching course. I think it fair to say that we all went home feeling knackered but happy!


Special thanks should go to Ian, Keith but also to Robbie Smith, Zoe Maynard and John Fay, who ran the 2* training and also to Vicky Palmer and Mark Garrod for the many hours they all put in (free of charge) to making all of this happen at no cost to the participants. What a great club this is!!


Pete Thomas                                                  More Photos…..

15/3/16 Great Orme Paddle Sunday 13th March

What a beautiful day. Finally a good weather forecast.  11 of us turned up at Llandudno West Shore for a paddle round an Orme or two. The calm sea made for a relaxing paddle round the Great Orme; it was calm enough to paddle right next to the cliffs and appreciate their different colours and textures. Andy pointed out Ogof Llech, a small well hidden cave that has been used as a barely accessible church. There were also numerous sea birds including guillemots and common terns, I think ? Next we arrived at Llandudno pier for lunch, and in one case to entertain the crowds by demonstrating how not to get out of a kayak.

After lunch the group split, 4 people opting to kayak back to west shore; the rest of us heading across Llandudno Bay towards the Little Orme. We paddled round the Little Orme to Porth D yniewaid seeing several seals on route. We then headed back across the bay to the Great Orme and the paddle home.  Slightly choppier round the headlands on the way back but still really easy paddling. Well until we hit the headwind on the home stretch, which I am sure made everyone speed up independently of each other.  I was really pleased to see that some people were quite tired when they got off the water and it wasn't just me. 

Thanks to Andy for planning a great trip, an informative pre trip briefing and for the interesting bits of information on route.

Catriona Hare

Big thanks to andrew garland for organising Sundays paddle, perfect weather, great company. Terry Bithell.

15/3/16 "Docks" trip to Hilbre, 13th March 2016

Due to road closures, today's session in the Docks was rescheduled as a trip to Hilbre.   Just before midday, ten paddlers assembled on West Kirby slip and were called to order by Karl Tattum.  We others  introduced ourselves as  Julie, John, Phil, Natalie, Peter, Steve, Helen, Caroline and Robin.   After a quick chat about rescue techniques and towing options, the rising water was lapping at our boats (a mixture of sea-kayaks, crossovers and a SOT) and it was time to launch. 

Once afloat  in  hazy sushine, we were all feeling the heat.  As we passed Little Eye it was getting ever warmer and calmer.   At one stage, the leading paddlers paused to allow slower members to catch up.  I took the opportunity to lie back on the rear deck and close my eyes.  All I could hear was the quiet lapping of the water on the sides of the hull just a few inches below my ears.  Gradually, I heard the faint sound of approaching paddlers and they soon seemed to be almost upon me.   Reluctantly, I sat up only to find they were still at least 50 yards away.  Such was the tranquility of the scene - like a millpond.  So different from the wild conditions of last July's Hilbre Race.

The plan was to paddle up the Western side of Hilbre to inspect the conditions at the Northern end.  Paddlers could then choose whether to return they way they had come, or to cross through the notorious overfalls and return via the Eastern side.  Having never made it around the top of the island before, I was a little apprehensive.   Several seals were keeping an eye us as if eager to see what would happen next. 

As we approached the Northern end, I was in front and keenly watching how the waves were building up.  Then, I thought, "let's go for it" and paddled with determination into the fun stuff.   It was a strange feeling with the boat being gently moved around by forces from below.  All too soon, calmer water was reached and I looked around to see where the others were; the answer being, right behind me!  Everyone got through OK and enjoyed the experience. 

After a pleasant trip along the 'populated' side, we landed at the only beach on the island for lunch.   Along with Julie's sausage rolls and Jaffa cakes (which have never tasted so good), Caroline's home-made chocolate shortcake was the highlight of this stage.  With plenty of time, so I thought, I climbed up the cliff to view the nearby surroundings.  Looking down from this vantage point, It was immediately clear that there has been significant recent rockfall.  To the right of the main walkway onto the island, much of the cliff face has crumbled away.  It was certainly not in that state at my last visit, as a pedestrian on New Years Day.

Having made it back down to the beach, I was the last person afloat, yet again.  Sorry guys - not that they waited for me!  Passing Middle Eye, we all slowed down to take in the bird life which was profuse.  One area was packed with oyster catchers, and there was a separate zone for gulls of some kind.  On tiny ledges facing the sea were hundreds of a smaller type of bird, maybe these were common terns?   They all knew where they wanted to be, and it was good to be able to quietly glide by at a distance and just take in the spectacle.

At one stage on the return trip, Karl and I were so warm that we did a pair of synchronised rolls to cool down.  Marks out of ten would have probably been rather low but we both came out on top and felt well refreshed.  

Back at the slip, various exit strategies were employed.  Somehow, three of our number ended up in the mud and emerged looking somewhat bedraggled.  To establish what actually took place, you'll have to ask either John, Phil or Natalie.   Or maybe all three, because I doubt you'll get the same story from each.   

All told, this was a really enjoyable trip.  Nice location, good weather and great company.  Roll on the next “Dockers Day Out”!

Robin Emley                       More Photos…….

29/2/16 March 2016 Newsletter Published 
Please open it by clicking this link March Newsletter…… or via the website   More Archived Newsletters…..

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