Kent Estuary 22/2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADave E and Mike H head out form Arnside on a calm, warm, yes warm! February Friday.

Finding the main channel proved tricky with bright sun reflecting off the water or was it just wet sand! We located the narrow drain channel just off Holme Island to connect to the old  river channel. Further out the river widened to 400m, too wide for a bore surely.  We were joined by 5 other paddlers from Preston as the wave front of the 10.3m tide arrived; 20 minutes before expected; as a green glassy wave which grew and fell with no reason. The narrow channel took some water and a breaking wave formed for 400m  despite most of the flow finding the old channel.  A brief stop at Arnside to let the upper basin fill, followed by  a zoom under  the viaduct, saw us cover 3km in 15 minutes, to our awaiting car at Sandside. Nice one.

Mike H

One bridge too far

The Bowston Gauge on the Kent showed 0.45, a fine level for our intended trip improving river skills. The Kent from Staveley is grade 2 with plenty of small rocky rapids as long as you portage the grade 4 Cowan head weir and long rapid.

The shuttle to Burneside found us watching a huge crane holding up the new road bridge at Burneside in place. An engineer warned us not to go near.

John S,  his mate from IOM , Sue, Mike , Tom ( guest) and Pet prospective new member set off with the aim of refining breaking in and out, using bow rudders to assist. The river level provided ample opportunities to choose a selection of routes and with increasing success in achieving the desired routes. Some bold attempts and the odd boiley eddy lines resulted in a few visits to the learning zone, alas no crayfish were spotted.

Cowan head portaged, and playtime on a few surfing waves resulted in lots of smiles and more crayfish hunting. Good thing those rolls worked first time.

The three tiers of Croppers weir were particularly sucky, but the  left slide offered insufficient water for a long slide.

A few more surf waves and we passed the last bridge to view the huge crane. Fortunately  the engineers were on lunch break  but the bridge was balanced on it’s parapets, so we sneaked under. As we crossed the village green to the cars, an engineer enquired, and then laughed  when we informed her that we had done a risk assessment.





I like it when a plan works.

Last week we left the Crake for another day hoping it would be at a better level in a weeks time and it was, a very nice level of 0.54.

Saturday saw us gather at the bus shelter, lots of chatter and excitement. Shuttles arranged and we head up the Crake valley to the put in on Coniston water.

Warm up as we paddle down the lake. The improvers had a look at the first rapid, a grade 3 in the guidebook and not without it’s complexities, not just a one feature but two or three problems to solve and of course linking them all together with those awkward little in between bits. Only one entered the learning zone! the usual trees to take care of and some nice play waves. and more learning zone opportunities.

Bobbin Mill rapid proved, not for the first, very exciting but at 0.54 with eddies and choice of lines. One more the learning zone was entered followed by coffee and cakes in Greenodd, a new cafe for a team, ever willing to go to extremes searching out the perfect latte and scone.

“Into” the Eden

Improvers park and play, The Sands, Carlisle. 11th February 2019

After cancelling a couple of weeks ago in the teeth of some cold and wintery weather we were greeted by sunshine and a hint of Spring at Carlisle today.

The object was to have a skills session with Mike Sunderland and Anthony from Border Kayaks our coaches for the day. Anthony had also brought a great selection of boats for anyone to try and gave us a detailed review of what each could do – if you know what you’re doing.

Mike inspected the water and decided it was a little higher than expected. JohnS, Colin and I inspected the water and decided it was likely going to be park and pray!

Onto the water, Chris was looking for a boat to replace the recently demised dancer and was soon making everything look easy in a range of different coloured craft. Alex and John were also going well.

Mike and Anthony were observing our efforts from the bank – as we splashed around, I started to wonder if it was a bit too much for them; but eventually they joined us with constructive feedback. Yes Mike, I did look terrified, because I was! 

Ferry gliding was the order of the day. With some folks making things look ridiculously easy and with Anthony’s advice – “keep looking at where you want to get to” battling with one’s brain which was saying – “look at those scary waves coming at you” we all started to make some progress.

We split into two groups and whilst the experts continued just below the weir the improvers headed down to the road bridge where things were a little smoother but with an equally rapid flow. More progress here. 

A follow my leader took us back upstream under the bridge and across the tricky flow running around the bridge columns, Eric was the last to stay dry.

Short but sweet, everyone quite knackered but buzzing at the end. Perhaps the conditions were a little too challenging for learning fine technique, but it was great to experience the conditions in a safe place.

Very big thanks to MikeS and Anthony for all the help.

Today’s learning – keep looking at where you want to get to – It works!

After the rains

Too little water can be a problems and of course, so can too much and that is what we were woke up to on Saturday morning, the wind and rain had been hammering away at the windows all night, leaving me to wonder if the Crake with its’ overhanging trees was a good idea after all.
Wondering up from Spark Bridge to look at the bridge that I was worried about being able to get under, it looked tight, too tight?
On past occasion on a run down the Crake with rain pouring into the river from every tributary and across the fields, levels at first gradually rose and then rapidly rose when we arrived at the point where we could see the bridge , it dawned on us there was no way we could get under.
A pow wow at the bus shelter and we decided to leave the Crake for another day and with the Crake there would be plenty of other days – maybe next week?
Off to the Duddon and the put in at Hall Duddon by the phone box.
The river was at a very nice level (0.8 ish) and the sun came out, water was cold but so clear, so nice to be out, we moved nicely in a controlled way down the middle section. The river was full enough to interesting but not too hard, still needing to concentrate not in any danger of calamity but having to stay switched on to avoid catastrophy.
The section through the gorge was especially enjoyable, the river gradually steepening and then turn a corner and out of the gorge.

Passing Ulpha we met up with Rob, Paul, John and Mark and onwards through the crystal clear views and for the first time in a while a feeling of warmth from the sunshine.

Soon the rapid by the bridge came into view and we inspected, each of us identify our lines, walking back to my kayak just in time to watch Mike provide a demo forthe watching crowds. Well that looked easy someone remarked – I smile, fallen for that in the past.
Happily the rest of the group runs the rapid with a similiar degree od aplomb.
Soon, sadly, the take out bridge arrived and the end of another days kayaking…until tomorrow that is.


Death of a Dancer

Monday 4th Feb saw the normal flurry of messages before it was decided that the Greta at 1.3 would be worth a visit, paddling from Threlkeld to Keswick. A select group of Phil, Mike, Dave, Tom and Chris had an easy put at the bridge with nice views of Blencathra, having remnants of the melting snow, followed by some pleasant easy rapids.

The river gained momentum, one steeper section an incident with a submerged tree followed Phil demonstrating the only bow rescue I have ever seen outside a pool, so thank you for rescuing me. Various rock fields followed, the new bedrock section holding its own surprises.


The final(for me) rockiness negotiated, but then ended with my Dancer impaled on a rock, by the caravan site. A big hole, a bit like a boiled egg after being hit by a spoon- but larger. Old brittle plastic with cold water, add rock impact!  After much jiggling I was released from the projection and mad ether bank as the Dancer sank,

The others disappeared,  and enjoyed the rest of the run. When I get a new boat, I hope to complete it as well!

A very pleasant day out with good company, hopefully soon to be repeated.

Chris T