Many thanks to Mike S for co-ordinating this seakayak trip, which had an unexpectedly interesting lunchtime break. There were 5 of us, munching our sandwiches and soup at a bridge at the head of Blackton Reservoir in cool temperatures, when along came a chap dressed like a Victorian explorer in his khaki shorts. We happened to be close to the midpoint of the Pennine Way, and he was hiking it. He said he liked to do a bit of seakayaking, so we got chatting. It turns out he circumnavigates a different Scottish island each year, and he asked us if we had ever paddled in Norway. No-one had, so we asked him where he had been. He had done quite a bit. His name was James Baxter, and here is an extract from his website https://www.skipaddlenorway.com/:
“I started this tour on the first January 2009 and for the next four months I skied the 2,700 km up the length of Norway from Lindesnes in the south to Kinnarodden in the north. I then had a snowy cycle on wintery roads for 400 km across the north of Norway to the Russian border. There I started the 3,300 km paddling trip along the entire coast of Norway to the south and up to Oslo. About half of this 6,400 km route is above the Arctic Circle.”
More here https://www.amazon.co.uk/James-Baxter/e/B0034P3JAG/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 and https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-5381433/James-Baxters-epic-6-100km-ski-kayak-trip-Norway.html, which has a good map of his trip.
Earlier on, we took a look at Balderhead reservoir, which has a Water Skiing centre according to the OS map. It looked cold and windy so we started at the low point of Hury reservoir, at the parking next to the dam, which was more sheltered. The problem with this idea was that it involved an uphill portage up the grassy dam bank to Blackton reservoir. This was quite steep so we found the best way was 5 separate portages, with 5 men to each kayak.
Blackton Reservoir is famous for being where Hannah Hauxwell lived at Low Birk Hatt. She washed her clothes in the reservoir in Yorkshire Television’s 1973 documentary, Too Long A Winter.
We had a fun time circumnavigating the reservoirs, admiring the Victorian engineering especially the overflows. We ended up back at the Hury dam, where a chute leads to the River Tees.