Silecroft to Duddon Estuary and back

Friday  27th June

Six kayaks and their long way down the beach to the gently breaking 10cm waves. Andy and Elise needing assistance with the Aleut Double- oops , a quick jog back to get the sail foot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe headed south with the tide on almost calm water, until wind turbines agave way to Dunes and eventually as the current increased, between shallow sand banks the Duddon estuary.  Now heading the gentle but increasing breeze.



Sandwich terns with beaks full of sand eels glided by, until we too lunch  on sand bank just short of Hodbarrow nature reserve. As we at the tide rose, so after we were able to enter Haverigg pool and scale the mighty sea defences.

Whilst John shared his knowledge often various bird species, Andy disappeared. After only 20 minutes the kayaks now almost afloat Andy turned bereft of ice creams muttering about  no money.

The last of the incoming tide hasted our float up the Duddon Estuary on almost glassy water along with numerous Lion’s main jellyfish. As the tide subsided we floated awaiting the tug south.

Not long after beginning the return paddle the wind returned form the south at force 2. A sun fish fin spotted

Repassing Hodbarrow the wind veered to SW and force 3- yes straight into our faces. A se Are after calm ashore bringing low cloud.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStill it would be behind us as we rounded the dunes. The Aleut double set a good pace withe the single following so John and took a more inshore route to cut the corner. Now just 4 km north to Silecroft, seems hardwork, the wind turbines now facing NW explained why. Our bible along the coast became more arduous start expected with waves up to 2.5 feet and a beam sea.


So today we learnt that sandwich terns do exist and they don’t eat sandwiches. You can ensure that you have a headwind all day if you take a sail and double sea kayaks go very fast.

Enjoying this trip were Stu, John H, Tom, Simon, Andy L Elise

Mike H


Ullswater – wave 2


Damn COVID. Maximum of 6 in a party prevented us from joining John’s trip of 6. But after some significant fooling about with the calendar, we determined a time and a put-in and became a perfectly formed grupetta of 4. Pete, Linda, Tom and Julian. 

Feeling rather smug at arriving 15 minutes early, I discovered, as I looked longingly over the impressive engineering works in Pooley Bridge, that we were at the wrong side of the River Eamont. Which then put us 30 minutes late!!!

In spite of my error, the mood was calm and we indeed had a great trip in hot weather.


Against the wind on the way out, we discovered the other 6 breaking camp at the far end of the lake. After a cheerful reunion chat and a picnic in a quiet cove we set off back pushed gently by a tailwind – seemingly past most of the population of Sunderland and the North East – who apparently also enjoy the beaches of Ullswater. Crossing the Lake, in the style of a poorly funded navy in their £30 Aldi vessels. 

Next stop Pooley Bridge. Still feeling guilty at my blundering incompetence earlier in the day I bought back favour with a round of rather nice ice cream.


Pete Riley

Second weekend at Silecroft.

Last weekend so us grapling with 5-6 ft waves with I have to admit some forced rolling practice. Today was a little more benign at 2ft waves and this time we had the option of choosing to do some rolling practice.

Martin Rachel and Brian

arrived earlier in the tide sequence, we had a longer walk to the sea (sorry if my kayak appears to be the heaviest ever produced), but we had longer before the incoming tide hit the boulders and the steeper pat of the beach.

As for the surfing ……
To quote Stanley Holloway from “Albert and the Lion”
They didn’t think much to the ocean
The waves they were piddlin’ and small
There were no wrecks and nobody drownded
‘Fact, nothin’ to laugh at at all!
Actually 2 ft may sound a bit piddlin after last weeks 5-6 ft and tomorrows 10 ft, but I probably got more waves in the more controlled 2 ft than I did in the 5-6ft challenging conditions
2 foot is enough, but probaly not less

Tour of the Lakes – Round 2; Ullswater.

Following the success of last weeks Coniston trip John S had arranged another great day’s weather for Ullswater. The trip was oversubscribed so we set off from the Pooley Bridge car park in two Boris friendly groups, an hour apart.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe early group had the advantage of beating the crowds of folks flocking to the waters edge as the temperature climbed into the mid-twenties. Paddling gear generally consisted of T shirt, Factor 50, cool dude sunglasses, and a large hat.



John S, lead us (John G, Mikes H and P, Chris Bond and Eric) off into a mirror calm and past the first of the laid up Ullswater steamers.Sad to see in one way but less chance of getting run over which is generally a good thing. We were soon in a nice easy rhythm enjoying the chance for a chat or a bit of quiet time. An unusual blob was encountered.


A gentle headwind boded well for the return journey.

We’d reached Howtown by brew time and then pushed onto Silver Point down the second reach. Passing a couple of kids in an inflatable in the middle of the lake I felt a little overdressed in a buoyancy aid, didn’t want to mention to them that it was 60 metres deep at that point in case they fell out!

When we could go no further south we stopped for lunch – not quite Shackleton but hey. The little beech had some nicely socially distanced rocks to sit on so all was well.


Just as we were leaving the later party of Pete, Linda and Julian arrived lead by Tom P. There was chance for a bit of a catch up before we headed off towards Glenridding and they headed ashore for their sandwiches.

John had promised a tailwind on the return journey – but he lied, the wind dropping disappointingly.

The north shore, with the main road running along it was pretty busy – what makes anyone think it’s OK to turn up to the tranquillity of a lake with a ghetto blaster.

It’s quite a long pull back up to Pooley Bridge but the three sections of the lake broke things nicely onto bitesize chunks. Flock of gees to amuse us.


I think everyone enjoyed just being on the water on such a super day and the 25km gave us all a good workout to boot. Talk turned to “the next one” – so it’s thanks John for the trip, where are you taking us next?


Kent estuary on neap tides

Saturday 20th June

Paddlers: Simon L, John H, Andy L , Duncan, Chris W guest Elsie

Arriving at Arnside in good time, something became apparent.  There were 6 of us (I expected five) and one very strange looking boat.  It was Andy’s ` very long, two-piece split, Valley Aleut tandem sea kayak.  A rather flash boat, and one that took some assembly.  It was certainly fast on the water, easily pulling away on the way out into Morecambe Bay.

Mike H had briefed me on the various strategies needed to navigate the channels of the Bay, and I likewise the team.  Luckily, the channel was pretty easy to spot today with only a short drag, a hundred metres or so, across a sand bank.  Five kilometres out, and an hour into our paddle, the tide washed in unceremoniously.  I think John was expecting something more spectacular than just a narrow stream appearing besides us going the other way.  In hindsight, we should have eddy hopped seaward, as immediately joining the incoming stream left us back paddling to avoid getting ahead of it.


Heading inland, following the line on my GPS watch, it took little effort to reach the viaduct, with only a brief pause to wait for Andy’s tandem to float on the incoming tide after taking a wrong turn.  A short play in the viaduct arches, and a, difficult at times, shallow paddle to Sandside and we were all ready for lunch.  Slack tide and deeper water made our return quick and simple.

It’s one that’s definitely worthy of a return trip, but either a bigger tide or more water in the river would vastly improve the experience.  Still, a great and safe way to reacquaint one’s self with kayaking after, what was for some, a long break.


Surf at Silecroft

The magic seaweed predicted 2-4 ft surf at Silecroft. But the incoming tide necessitated an earlyish start.

Mike H, Sten, John H and Brian met at 8.50 at Silecroft car park to view broken lines of waves. Looks fun. Sten managed to rip his drysuit cuff before we set off into the waves.

The line of break varies as the mid comes in, since the beach is easy angled, then flat, but steeper at the top.

Wind blowing force 4 -5  created some along the short drift. So battle out , surf in, regain the drift, became the circuit.

As always in surf, choosing the best wave is the name of the game. Old skills of reading waves kicked in and some nice long rides were to be had.

The sea kayaks deposited their owners in the drink. The best manoeuvre saw John do a  forward loop. The sinuses became well washed, apart from Sten’s who used a nose clip.


After an hour the waves got steeper and fighting out became more tricky, with some unexpected backward rides to be had.  Eventually after 2 hours the steep pebbles caused the waves to dump, and with our strength drained and the wind reaching force 6 , we gave way to the fishing competition.

Brain brewed us a coffee in the back of his car. Nice to see  friends on the water after Covid and lack of rain.

Mike H



Looking for Bluebird

6 paddlers assembled at or near Brown Howe carpark for a gentle socially distanced paddle. JohnS. Robin, MikeH, Eric, StuM and MikeP.

We started by heading south to the Oak Isle, which MikeP informed us was the start of the Coniston Water swim. Turning here we began the paddle north towards the magnificent scenery of the Old Man. Dark and stormy clouds to the north of the lake picked out the hills in a spectacular way.

It was great to be back on the water in a suitably distanced group, 2 metre rule easily achieved  by not clashing paddles. Much talk of life in lockdown, Mtb biking (ED&MH), walking (JS&SM), running & biking sections of the Dales Way (MP), long distance road bike trips (RE).
A stop for coffee at Beck Leven Foot, then on past Brentwood to the head of the lake, passing the Swallows and Amazon sculpture by Andy Levy at Bank Ground Farm. Carved from a single oak tree, rooted to the spot.

Turning at the head of the lake, we headed for the Water Head pier for lunch near the Blue Bird Cafe at 1pm. Ice cream to take away prepared us for the return trip down the lake.

By now the storm clouds had gathered, thunder rumbled in the distance and a light shower of rain cooled us as we paddled. The light wind had put a few ripples on the lake surface to add interest to the south bound trip. An hours paddle took us back to our start at Brown Howe.
A very enjoyable day, perhaps the start of a series of lake trips, until Pete allows some water back in the rivers.

John S

So lo(w) on the Wharf

It’s been seemingly months since we had any water.  The Wharfe has run almost dry.  Usually deep rapids have been reduced to paddling pools for tourists.  With the ground baked dry, 2 days of rain left the river resolutely empty.  Surprisingly, a last-minute splurge on Friday bought it up, briefly, to 0.62.  The Wharfe runs off quickly, so it would have to be a Saturday paddle to avoid scraping down the flat wide sections.  An event hastily posted, various messages back and forth, Ian trying to work out logistics, Mark wondering if there was a bus and Pete concerned about the local oiks.  In the end, it was too messy for others, and I was paddling solo.

I’d already worked out my plan.  Bike in the boot, boat on the top, drop the boat and kit off at Conistone on the bridge, drive bike to Linton Falls car park, ride back and lock up bike for collection later.  Today I was with my vintage Perception Corsica Overflow (circa 1999).  It’s fast on the flat, has space in the back to fit my kit, and I’m less bothered about leaving it in a field for half an hour unattended.  It’s £4.80 to park at Linton Falls.  It’s worth it, it’s a cracking location, and no worries about upsetting the locals or blocking up the roads.  At this time in the morning, it’s also virtually empty.  The back road to Conistone past Grass Woods is beautiful and makes for a quick 14 minute 37 second shuttle on the bicycle.  It’s not a cheap bike, but I’ve got a reasonable lock, and Conistone is well out of the way, unlikely to be any issues leaving the bike there.

The riverbank at Conistone is currently home to nesting Sand Martins.  They are quite a site popping in and out every few seconds.  Worth going up there just to see them.  My usual launch point was however, scuppered.  A friendly encounter with a local farmer, curious of what I intended to do about the waterfalls 2km downstream, and I’d found a suitable get in point slightly down river.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in the Perception on white water.  It’s tippy, very tippy, and at over 10ft long, feels like a barge to turn.  A practice roll, some ferrying about, and I was starting to get used to it again.  The level now was about 0.5, which is plenty if you pick a careful line.  Conistone falls (Mill Scar Lash) is tricky in low water.  Plenty of opportunities to get stuck on the rocks.  I got out to inspect, spotting the best line right in the middle of the river avoiding the washing machine on the left.  After clumsily bumping through and over the main drop, I was glad to be past it.  It gets smoother from there on, with Ghaistills Strid the best of the rapids ahead, and definitely worthy of inspection on low water.  The shoot by Linton Falls hydro station is particularly fun, sending you surfing 50m downstream at speed.

This was actually the perfect water level for Linton Falls itself.  Above the undercut rocks, but not the raging torrent crashing over the ledges from our recent high-water escapade.  I’ve yet to paddle it, despite being on several trips when others have.  Today wasn’t my day though, not in this boat, not on my own.  A coffee by the (surprisingly) completely empty Grassington riverbank, and a carry over the bridge and back to the (still empty) car park.  It’s the perfect setup to have your car there at the end rather than the bike waiting for you.  You’ve got dry kit, sunglasses, drink, everything you need in your car.  The bike can wait.

Heading back to pick up the bike, I spot some friendly faces from Leeds Canoe Club getting ready to put in.  I think by now they’d missed the best of the water and were in for a bit of a scrape.  The usual chit-chat about the various upcoming river features and I was finished for the day.  Overall a successful solo trip.  It’ll be a while before there’s enough water for another I suspect.


Leven Estuary, 1st LCC post-Covid paddle

Leven Estuary, 1st LCC paddle back

I’d been planning to do the Leven Estuary for ages.  Brian’s ill-fated spring trips, followed by lockdown, had so far scuppered my plans.  The Leven Estuary requires a tide of over 9 metres at Liverpool.  Murphy’s law that whenever it’s a spring tide, it’s blowing a gale.  The weekend of the 6th June was looking the same.  The internet was awash with tales of doom and 40mph gusts.  They weren’t wrong, only those winds came on Friday night and Saturday morning, leaving Sunday with just a breeze.  I realised this Friday night and hastily posted a last-minute trip up for the Leven, hoping to have some company.  Rob had the same thought, planning to paddle the Leven with a couple of friends, Mark, and Rod.  Mike had already been in touch.  Plenty of parking at Canal Foot and minimal faff had us waiting for the tide.  Mike was fascinated watching the mini bore wave washing in and reflecting off the viaduct, standing waves in its wake.

On the water we were soon heading towards the rushing current at the railway viaduct.  The noise carries for miles, but you can’t see the commotion until you’re on top of it.  After two months off the water it felt unnatural to be splashing through waves.


“Swimmer!” Mike called.  At first, I was confused, not being on a section of snaking white water.  Spinning round I see the bottom of Rod’s kayak and Rob already en-route to rescue.  All in hand, and, with the luxury of a deck pump apparent, we were on our way with only wet hair as evidence.


A strong tide and low river level meant plotting a careful path through the channels avoiding sand banks and burying your paddle.  On the plus side, it brought out some fun standing waves and mini rapids to play on.  We all had some fun trying to surf long boats on short waves.  I took the opportunity of the remaining flat-water paddle to our lunch spot to practice (read mess about) in relative safety.  The rest of the group had a relaxed paddle and chat enjoying the novelty of human company.  A muddy haul onto the banks by the Leven white water get out made for a secluded lunch spot.  We had the unexpected company of a solo paddler who’d paddled from my originally planned get in at Bardsea.  He was a man full of tales, and although it broke our peace and quiet, he provided some colour and entertainment for our lunch.

The paddle back is a bit of a slog, only broken by the excitement of limboing under the disused railway bridge, Mark almost losing his hat.  You can’t wait too long for risk of getting stuck on a sandbank, so you don’t have the same tidal assistance as the way in.  Slack water also means a river devoid of features.  Still, paddling flat water certainly gives you a workout.  A rest stop at the large limestone outcrop gave us a chance to practice our social distancing and another encounter with our new found friend from lunch.  An uneventful paddle back to canal foot, following the line on my watch to avoid accidentally cutting the corner and getting stuck.  Overall, a great paddle, and a good introduction to being back on the water.

Paddlers: Simon Mike H, Mark, Rob, Rod,



Tree in the Rawthey gorge

At the end of Feb a huge tree positioned itself at the narrowest point in the Rawthey conglomerate gorge.  Huge being a 2m high rootstock with a 1.2 m  diameter trunk. Branches facing downstream. Oh its also in the bottom of a 10m deep gorge.Only just space to pass on the left. But no doubt potential to become a sieve as minor branches and trees joined the block.

After Mike H contacted the landowner  Dave G brought his expertise and with Phil to assist. The three of us thought we would sort it in a morning. After lots of hand sawing, sledgehammering rocks in the rootstock, followed by chainsawing by Dave, winching and winching form different angles. We tried plan A then plan B etc The rootstock and branches slowly shrank until when a 7cm, branch was cut, the the rootstock moved. It sank to block the narrow gap completely. More winching from high on the left bank and trimming before day 1 completed with chainsaw blades blunted.

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Day 2 began with more boulders bashed from the rootstock by Phil. Then trim it down more. Mike swam out to attach lines to underwater branches. The winching didn’t work from the left as we realised the main branches were stuck under an underwater overhang. We removed some other logs from under the main trunk thus allowing a narrow passage to flow. By now we were on plan M. So we now added another winch from the right bank, with a diversion on the winch wire to improve the angle of pull, the tree trunk finally moved. SUCCESS. Some interesting manoeuvres to retrieve all the ropes and strops brought the task to and end. So you can now all safely paddle the Rawthey again.

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