Hury and Blackton Reservoirs

November 2019

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 

“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 and, 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. 

fullsizeoutput_65bBlackton 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. 

Mike P

Cumbria Polo Tournament at Penrith

 23rd Nov 2019

Thanks to Tim Mather for organising the first Polo tournament of the 2019/20 season, at Penrith.  This featured 3 Lancaster teams, 2 Penrith teams, 2 Duddon teams and Lakeland.  Our players were Andy L, Liam W, Owen E, Mike P and a student called Chris borrowed from Lancaster Uni.  The tournament was split into 2 divisions.

Chris had to play against his mates in our first game, won by Lakeland 6:1.  We beat Duddon 4:2 then played against the Penrith 1st team.  After going 2:0 down, Lakeland rallied to win 3:2.  This set up a tense final with Penrith, won by Lakeland 2:1.  

Mike Pfullsizeoutput_654


16th  November
As the weekend approached, l looked to the club calendar to see if anyone was planning on paddling a river.
There was a post for the Tees But it was full so a thought I would put a local paddle up.
Checking the forecast, Cumbria was not due any rain, so I planned on paddling the Crake.
It was looking as if it would be an ideal 0.6m
It was a short notice post on the calendar and I had no takers.  I was starting to think I am going to have to do some of those DIY jobs I had been meaning to do
Then great, I received a message from John and Paul, new members of the club who are experienced paddlers.
The trip was on.The DIY would have to wait.
We met at spark bridge then headed up to Coniston.
To find the car park nearly full as York university were doing the same river.
We were soon on the water.  And heading down Nibthwaite rapid. John unfortunately caught his Hand so the First Aid kits were out.
We watched as the uni group ran Nibthwaite and were impressed by how quickly they  collected their swimmers and got them back in there boats
After 2 hours of playing we were soon at Bobbin Mill rapid.
As we arrived back from the shuttle we were approached by a local resident who invited us to village Hall as they were holding a table top sale.
We gladly accepted and had a good chat with the locals over a coffee and cake.
Me and Paul even managed to win a prize on the tombola
Rob Hitchmough.

Do one. Get one free

Friday saw us  ( Ian.Mc, Mike H, Pete, Matt , Brian) drive to the Nith, gauge on 0.41 scrape. But fortunately we knew better. This is a low level but enough water to have a fun day playing. The grade 4 section down to the Jaws of Nith saw Ian doing a reverse trick , and provided one fine boof.

Saturday, saw damp but dull day, mizzle.  Grant has joined us overnight. At Ness Glen we met a local photographer Jim Parkes who kindly shot some of or descent.  Here are his fine pics

Ness Glen pics

This steep Beck falls about 45m in just over 1 km, but on this occasion was free of trees. Unfortunately Matt sustained a hole to the rear of his kayak even before searching teh rapids. We all felt for him. Only one incident when a tight turn caught out two of our group.



It was such fun we ran it again.

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Sunday, still damp but only water in the Nith, no way 0.54. The only option, again! Still Grant had never paddled it before. Slightly more estate  gave a few more play waves.

well you can’t win them all. A good weekend  paddling with like minded mates.



Eden and Solway trip

In the morning of Wed 13th Nov, 11 seakayakers put in the fast-flowing River Eden at the back of the Sands Leisure Centre in central Carlisle.  Some of us had been at the Cumbria Canoeists AGM the previous evening, but it was an early start for most LCC members from South Lakeland.  It was about 0oC, so people put on their woolly hats and extra layers under their drysuits.

We had previously set up the 15k shuttle to Port Carlisle on the Solway (see map, thanks to  This involved driving along the line of Hadrian’s Wall, down an affluent road full of barn conversions but not much sign of the Wall.


We played in the rapids as best we could in our seakayaks, then within the first few hundred yards, we saw a heron, a buzzard, a kingfisher and an otter, which made the early start worthwhile.  



We paddled towards Rockcliffe past some big scoured river bends, where it looked like serious tree planting should take place to avoid further erosion.  The Eden flattened out and we noticed the current was no longer downstream, but up!  I asked when was high tide – 12:28pm was the answer.  At Rockcliffe there is a pub but we didn’t want to leave the kayaks as the river was still rising.  Moreover, it was now warm and pleasant in the still sunshine, so we had our pack lunches in the flood plain field next to the village.  We noticed a large log in the shape of a crocodile floating slowly upstream. At 12:28pm it stopped and started floating downstream, indicating the tide was now with us.  We gave the tide about half an hour to build up, then paddled past the spectacular Castletown House towards the Solway.

It was a joy being out in the Solway Firth.  This area is often windswept with no protection against the horizontal rain.  But today it was sunny and still.  Most of us had too many layers on, and had to protect against sun.  We had an ebbing tide in our favour so were careful to get close to the shore well before our get-out.  The water was still high enough to ensure we didn’t have to drag the boats too far over grass, thankfully not much squelchy mud.

Great trip, thanks to Mike S for organising.

Mike P

Fun on the Leven

10th Nov

The planned trip down the Ribble was a  non starter due to low water, so the choice not being great Mark settled on the Leven and it is such a good river with  lots of opportunity for practice and fun. Played in the brick shoot and bellow the next falls, playing in stoppers and away on waves, graveyard and then the big event – Backbarrow, all safely through a portage the first weir, second one OK and down past the water rescue people practising rope techniques and river crossing. Full marks on Fisherman’s Island and then off to the Motor Sport Cafe – more coffee and scones this time with cream.



River Tees

Saturday 16th November

A group of seven paddlers from LCC assembled at Barnard Castle to paddle the river Tees.  The original plan was to paddle the section from High Force to Scooberry Bridge, but due to the levels and overnight rain it was decided to paddle the longer section from Barnard Castle to Winston Bridge.

Launching just below the weir in Barnard Castle, there were several small surf waves and stoppers to play on before the first main feature was reached; a 1 m high river wide ledge.  Not long afterwards, we reached Abbey Rapids where the river narrows into a steep mini-gorge. The line here was pretty obvious with several large waves to crash through and a large stopper to avoid at the bottom of the rapid.  As we exited the mini-gorge, several more excellent surf waves were found.

From here the river then flattened out for a while until we reached Whorlton Falls, a 1 m high rock ledge angled down the river.  The safest line here was river left, however this made for a slightly tricky lead-in raid which required negotiating some large and very unfriendly looking stoppers.

Carrying on downstream, the river consisted mainly of sections of relatively calm water, interspersed with sections of Grade III rapids.  These rapids contained a mixture of very fun and friendly surf waves and very unfriendly looking stoppers best avoided as well as a large sloping weir which we ran centre right.   

A relatively long but extremely enjoyable trip and a section of river new to three members of the group.  A good solid Grade III trip at the level we found it – 0.85 on the Barnard Castle gauge.  Paddlers:  Matt B, Brian C, Mark H, Mark M, John H, Ian M and Pete R.        

The Glasson Round

Wednesday 30th October 2019

The Glasson Round was repeated on Wed 30th Oct by 9 LCC Midweek Paddlers organised by Mike S.   Low tide at Glasson was at 9:30am and we put on at precisely that time, and just then a mini-bore about 1” high came whooshing up the Lune.  We paddled up to Lancaster on the tide, and witnessed a strange effect where in one channel of the river the current was downstream, but in another part of the river the current was upstream.  

Skelton weir turned from being about 6’ high to about 3’ high during our portage, due to the fast-rising tide.

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An unexpected hazard was encountered at the Lune aqueduct, where a large pipe obstructed access to the canal.  This was there for pumping water while they drained a section for repairs, see  We hadn’t been aware this was happening, but we found a way on to the water and two contractors in high-vis clothing didn’t seem to mind.  

As the previous group, we stopped at the Water Witch and I take this opportunity to thank Mike S on his public-spirited round of 9 drinks.  

We looked out for kingfishers as we paddled through the woods to Galgate, but I suspect we were too noisy.

Then 6 somewhat tedious locks and portages back to Glasson, arriving abut 4:30pm, 7 hours later.  

A grand day out, with thanks to Mike S for organising and for the beers.

Mike P

Easy rivers. trip 3

2nd November Cumbria Canoeists with LCC Easy Rivers 

Trip 3 – Eden; Appleby to Ousenstand.

The third of the Easy River trips supported by LCC members took place on Saturday. We pushed the start time back on account of a rugby match but the less said about that the better. Suffice it to say it’s only a game, the outcome of which was that we missed a lovely sunny morning!

The three kayaks, Heather, Peter and Julian and three double canoes crewed by Tom and Sandra, Eric and Chris, and Mike and Cat seemed to attract a great deal of attention as we prepared to launch at the slip in Appleby. After the heavy rain the previous night the river was a little higher than planned so maybe they were hoping for a “You’ve been framed” type moment.

With the river nice and wide and non of the shingle banks in evidence we made rapid progress enjoying the bumpy bits and taking the opportunity to practice some ferry glides and breaks in and out in the open boats whilst the kayaks buzzed about playfully – destroyers to our battleships.

After last weeks chilly episodes Chris had invested in some “sensible underwear” which fortunately was not put to the test although we did need one stop for some “serious bailin’ – (no g … Radio 2 listeners will get it, …….sorry!) after taking on a slightly bigger than normal wave.

Wildlife interest centered on a fabulous view of a kingfisher who flashed a spectacular blue against the slightly grey day, the usual herons, a flock of Fieldfares or Redwings (Cat will tell you) and a herd or rather excited cows. The cows followed for some time until they gave up, looking disappointed that no one had fallen in, they turned back. 

Just under two and a half hours and we were at the bridge at Ousenstand with plenty of light left to load up happy and dry.

Thanks to Mike S for keeping us on the straight and narrow, especially round the bends.


Tour of Selset and Grassholme reservoirs,

 6th Nov 2019

Local villagers were surprised to see 6 seakayakers at the Pennine village of Brough, equidistant from East and West coasts, at 9:30am on Wednesday 6th November.  Yellow bikes were on display, still celebrating the Gateshead to Kendal leg of the September 2019 Tour of Britain.   We reversed part of the cycle route by taking the spectacular B6276 towards Middleton-in-Teesdale.  

A welcoming sign greeted us at Selside reservoir: “This reservoir is open to the public”.  Grassholme reservoir has a sailing club on its shores, so we weren’t concerned about access issues.  It was a pleasant calm day, with a rain forecast at 3pm.  We enjoyed the circumnavigation of both lakes in spectacular scenery, and inspected their overflow chutes.  One person tried to paddle down the grassy bank on the reverse side of Selset dam, which would have worked well if the grass had been wetter.  

We returned to the cars just as the rain arrived, a bit earlier than forecast.  Mike S, our trip leader and a local to these parts, had enjoyed his lie-in this morning, and many thanks to him and his wife for the hospitality and warm scones afterwards.


Mike P