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Paddle Explore Assessment – 17th September 2022 Windermere by Michael McCarthy

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Paddle Explore Assessment – 17th September 2022 Windermere by Michael McCarthy

We had arranged to meet at 9 o’clock at the National Trust car park located at Fell Foot (south end of Windermere) to undertake the Paddle Explore Assessment. Due to the roadworks not running due to the national period of mourning, Allan and myself were already there for 8:20 which give us enough time to review the venue, check the conditions on the water and take a comfort break. The lake was shrouded in mist which quickly burnt off by 9 o’clock when the rest of the party arrived. The rest of the team includes Andy, Christine and Eamon.

(Photo from Allan Blanchard)

We got geared up and went through a quick briefing before we got on the water such as things to check prior to paddling (ingress/egress points, weather conditions, etc) and what kit as a group we may want to consider. We were on the water for 10:15 with a big chunk of the assessment checklist ticked off. When we got on the water, we made a decision as a group to follow the Leven south on its uppermost reaches before we reached any moving water. Anyone familiar with the area will know that you can sometimes view the steam train for the water which I (some would say fluky) managed to time our paddle to correspond with the train times.

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(Photo from Andy Bond)

Following the river down, we were able to focus on our forward paddling skills. This group have been regulars of the Tuesday paddlefit session and it showed. I had to keep up a good pace on the SUP to keep up with their cruising pace in their touring kayaks. Once we reached Newby Bridge we took a moment and discussed some points for leadership. From this point onwards, each of the paddlers took a leg to lead and ensure the group remained together.

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Once we got back to our start point I had noticed some buoys that allowed us to work on turning using different techniques (bow/stern rudders, sweeps, etc) and also discussed good paddle selection depending on the conditions and aims of the paddler. At this point, we decided to eat our lunch at the start point before exploring the lake. We made this decision as a group as the forecast was a northerly wind all day and we hoped that we would be able to use the tail wind to return to our start point.

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In the latter half of the day we went onto the lake itself again taking turns to lead legs of the journey. We as a group decided to stick to the easterly edge of the lake as that provided more shelter before making a crossing and continuing up the westerly edge when we had run out of shelter. This part of the trip was made more fun by the frequent ferry traffic which simulated some nice waves. We turned around and retraced our route using the tailwind to our advantage. We arrived back at the start and went through some wet skills to end the day.

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(Photo from Mike)

Each member of the group was obviously well practiced for rescues with some small suggestions from me to hopefully improve their efficiency. A few of the group even managed a roll or two after a full day of paddling.

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(Photo from Mike)

At the end of the day, we got our kit sorted and went for a warm drink and cake and had a short debrief. Each paddler seemed to have a good day and hopefully, they felt that this was a usual ddaypaddling rather than an assessment!

If you are interested in undertaking any of the BC Paddle Awards from Start to Explore, I, along with many other club coaches, would be more than happy to run one, just reach out to us and we will aim to accommodate.

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