Down the Lune

Easy River Trip; Loyn Bridge to Halton 26th July 2020

After the recent trip up the Lune from Glasson towards Lancaster the ‘Easy Riverers’ chose to go the opposite way this week, down from Lyon Bridge to Halton.

We looked forward to welcoming two paddlers new to Lakeland CC. Rob Wilson brought an open boat but unfortunately Oscar Riley was unwell so we were down to 5. Julian had his Machno with Chris S in an open boat and Mike S and Eric sharing a Hoo.

The levels seemed to have held up and there was quite a flow going for an “easy” trip. As we passed the junction with the Wenning the wind started to pick up and soon we were battling into what the BBC called a Moderate Breeze. It might be moderate in the studio but in an open boat on a wide river other terms were being used. Mike swapped in to help Chris whilst Rob and Eric practiced technique into the wind. At times it seemed as though we were just about holding our own despite the flow. We got round the islands at Aughton but it was time for plan B. Doubling up in Rob’s boat and towing Eric’s was much better, it almost felt like the wind had dropped. Progress was so much improved that it was easy to forget that we had a “butty” in tow; especially near the trees!

The wind kindly dropped for lunch but then picked up as we got going again. Over the little weir at Caton and then on to the bigger one at Halton. We got out and had a long hard look. It was certainly a little higher than planned and certainly not something Rob or Eric had tackled before. Chris had, and she sensibly decided to give it a miss. It wasn’t so much the weir but the Grade III bit after it that looked daunting to the relatively inexperienced. Julian in the Machno was positively relishing the waters; and even the prospect of an open boat floor show!

Boats tidied, crash hats on and off we go. Rob had a squeaky bottom moment teetering sideways on the top of the weir before performing a neat backwards descent, with that “meant to do that” look on his face afterwards. All safely over and into the rapids – Mike lead through and admitted to having a couple of moments negotiating an “over it or round it” step. Unfortunately Eric was too slow with the over or round decision with the inevitable consequence of sideways on the top and a less dry outcome than Rob’s. Good practice in using the swim line ensued and we were soon back up and running for the short hop to the finish at the Lancaster Uni boathouse.

A good challenging trip with lots learned – the quote “nobody said it would be easy” comes to mind – hmmm!

 

Eric

Dudes on Duddon

Well the intermediate river trip appeared on the club calendar, where are we going? No idea will there be any water? Not sure, well the weather patterns have been a little odd so who knows we can only hope! Myself being a little concerned about my back( injured by a fall on a wood pile) and having missed the last weekend trip it was with a little trepidation that my name went down on the list hoping nothing too severe was in store.

Well weekend crept closer and a peek at the weather and rain radar indicated that there was likely to be some water borne activity, as is customary in these situations a Saturday morning 08:00 hours decision was the order of the trip. 08:00 hours arrived and yes there was some water Yippee! A quick decision was required as there was a fair chance of the levels dropping fairly rapidly, so the Duddon was decided on for reasons that suited all (well it does happen sometimes 😊)

Very near for Mark M, the level seemed ok for my back nothing to extreme and Simon had never paddled it. So a 10:30 rendezvous was agreed at Duddon bridge (the Egress)  all sorted to get to the top with the obligatory distancing, open window and face coverings, so Hall bridge was to be our start point with the river running at 0.82  (just about Medium level) and the sun starting to come out.

All on and off we go being very aware that the levels could be dropping off soon but remarkably not so far.

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What a lovely river this is, this section lets you warm up nicely before too much action, a kilometre in and we are at the waterworks weir which is taken river right with an odd paddle scrape down the right hand wall.

 

Next up was Jill’s Folly and a quick look was in order as a refresher to check the way through and of course Simon not having paddled it before wanted a look, well the upshot of it was although I’d done it before river right I couldn’t recall exactly and Mark who had only done it left with a Boof over the lip of a drop so left it was! Mark first which required a substantial RHS support stroke on landing, I followed and it caught me similarly giving me a good head wetting and the need for a deep support / half roll either way a result I became upright again ! Simon followed and seeing how we had performed,  Boofed more left and the river fought back requiring a roll, all though and onwards.

Next up Funnel steps, another slightly tricky grade 4 ish bit rocks and branches keep you on your toes no issues here. Crosby Gill enters from the Right a little further downstream and gives you a boulder strewn rapid to keep occupied taking us down to Ulpha bridge though largish boulder and stunning scenery. Camera battery change now required for Marks Go Pro at Ulpha bridge, a suitable rest spot for a scooby snack to keep us going, the river widens now taking us down to Rawfold Bridge via some G3 bouldery rapids and bedrock constrictions all fun with no issues.

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As Rawfold bridge approaches, Logan Beck enters on the right just before an Island that signals the approach of the Duddon Hall Falls that run through, a peek at what’s coming is generally wise and again as Simon never having done it a shufty at the possible lines was required.

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I decided in the middle of the three possible lines, Mark also decided on this line with Simon (I believe was intending on this also despite not actually doing it) Simon decided to be off first followed by Mark and myself, despite the starting order both Mark and I passed Simon who was in a river left eddy (I can’t recall if by accident or by design, I’m sure he will tell you if asked 😊)  then dropping in behind us from the left, the G4 fall certainly gives you a buzz !

Caution required next for the Weir egress River left and a portage around is generally a wise move, back on the water for the last G3 rapid and onward to the egress and the end.

A fantastic day in good weather and a steady level as it was .79 at the egress ! so not dropped much a all . Ordinarily a Café stop would be the norm, alas not today in these strange times! hopefully it will normalise in the not too distant future. At least we managed to get out and play in the river that’s something and perhaps a nod towards the normality we crave.

Thanks guys. Ian

 

Piel Island and South Walney

19th July 2020

Paddlers: John S and Sally S, Julian C and Rob C, Rob H, Simon L

The crossing to Piel was pretty rough, a strong wind against the last of the incoming flood.  It was a strong tail wind even providing some surf on the way over.  Just not always in the direction you wanted to go.  I think we were all glad of the shelter provided as we approached Piel Island.  John powered ahead toward one of the pylon like structures marking the shipping channel.  Sally and Rob commented we wouldn’t have much chance getting to him if he were to tip in.  Didn’t look much chance of that though.

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Rob had briefed us at the start to avoid disturbing the seals, but the seals had other ideas, following, and sniffing at the carry togs on Rob’s boat.  I couldn’t quite make out any specific species of bird on the nature reserve, just a moving mass of white grey feathers, strangely quiet on the shore.

My plan was to hit the South of Walney Island at slack tide to avoid the worst of the tide race noted in the guidebook.  I warned Julian of the tide race, not quite knowing what to expect, but Rob said there won’t be much if anything there at this time.  Rob was right, and we had an easy passage to our coffee stop just north of the nature reserve.

I had intended to head over to the sandbanks of South America.  The guide wasn’t very clear on the best time to visit these, as it turns out, now wasn’t the right time.  On route over it became apparent they would be still well submerged by the tide and of little interest.  We diverted toward Piel with an ambitious aim to visit Sheep island, suggested by Rob early in the trip.  We should have gone when he suggested, as the ebbing tide made for hard work.

I’d taken off and stowed my hat and shades to have a lesser risk play with my new paddle.  Today was its first outing.  A few big sweeps, a nice low brace turn, a handbrake turn, and… a capsize.  No problem I thought, just roll up.  Everything felt strange though, I had no idea where the paddle was in the water.  No choice but to bail, I wasn’t getting anywhere guessing and thrashing.  Feeling like a bit of a plonker, I saw John already alongside.  He’d clearly done this before.  I partly emptied and righted my boat, clambered over the back deck with John rafted up, and back in the cockpit.  Overall, we were sorted in all of 5 minutes.IMG-20200719-WA0005

IMG_20200719_132223.jpegLanding on the north of Piel Island for lunch, we walked over to find a warm, grassy spot behind the pub.  Julian lost his sandwich to Pen, a very cute border collie puppy.  I told Pen “no” firmly when after filling herself with Julian’s sandwich, she came and sat begging for mine.  Written on her name tag “Pen is deaf” revealed why she paid no attention.

The group took a tour of Piel castle whilst I dried out in the sunshine.

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After a good 45-minute break, it was a shallow passage back to the main channel, and a windy crossing back to Piel ferry jetty.  Whilst regrouping past the shallows, Rob spotted a wind surfer going, what looked like 20 knots across the channel.  Several large yachts were also out in a local race (as Rob had heard on the radio).  The windy weather making our ferry glide back to Roa Island tricky, was clearly perfect for yacht racing and windsurfing.  I was with Julian and Rob and opted for landing below the RNLI launch to avoid getting washed into (or under) the jetty.  It made getting up the bank a bit tricky, but it looked easier than Rob and John’s landing on the jetty.

A great and, even with the wind, relatively easy paddle with little real risk to speak of.  There must be numerous combinations of trips possible here with options in almost any tide.  One to revisit for sure.

Simon

A circumnavigation of the Isle of Bute

14th to 17th July 2020

This was the Covid postponed trip initially planned for early April, when the weather was glorious. As soon as Ms. Sturgeon announced the necessary easing of lockdown restrictions in Scotland, the trip was back on the calendar. Social distancing rules still required Mike Hayward, Tom Peacock and John Hooson to travel north in separate vehicles, meeting at an attractive shoreside carpark at Portencross, a few miles north of Ardrossan on the Ayrshire coast. From here the islands of Little Cumbrae, Great Cumbrae, Bute and Arran could be seen in various shades of grey. `Dreich` nicely described the weather.

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Packed kayaks were trolleyed a few hundred metres to a tiny beach directly beneath a medieval fort built to command the entrance to the Firth of Clyde.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, it felt great to be off – a bit of an adventure on new waters, particularly after the recent confinement. We headed for the southern tip of Little Cumbrae and as we did so the huge Lego bricks of Hunstanton nuclear power station loomed into sight – but were quickly consigned to the rear-view mirror once we’d paddled round the northern point of the island.

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The direct crossing to Bute was not helped by a westerly wind but within an hour the small lighthouse at Glencallum Bay was reached. Turning north again we set off up the relatively protected east coast of Bute, passing Kilchattan Bay and pulling into camp just north of Bruchag Point, a popular spot for relaxing grey seals.

Exposures of Old Red Sandstone had been sculpted into endless amazing shapes, and whilst looking at these Mike found a piece of flotsam he recognised. He proceeded to entertain the seals with `forever blowing bubbles`.

 

The following day dawned grey with flat calm water as we headed past the attractive estate of Mount Stuart house, accompanied by scolding oystercatchers, burbling curlew and the odd narky redshank. Inevitably, as we crossed Rothesay Bay, the Calmac ferry decided to depart port and steam straight in front of us.


The grey/dry weather was turning to grey/wet, but as we rounded Ardmaleish Point into the Kyles of Bute a headwind became the most dominant element. We crossed the Kyle twice seeking shelter from what was now Force 4/5, but there was none. We ploughed on, ticking off the kilometres and landmarks painfully slowly. Relief was found only when we reached the Burnt Islands, the only area on this trip where a reasonable tidal flow was observed. Camping was on the lochshore in what looked perfect midge terrain, but the wind blew them all away. A fellow kayaker was utilising the nearby wooden shelter provided as part of the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail – after a brief chat we were happy to maintain our distance and instead listen to the cacophony of gulls and drizzle on nylon.

P7160035By next morning the weather was still overcast, though the forecast hinted at some brightness later!  The west coast of Bute is much more remote and rugged with fewer possibilities for an easy landing or comfortable campsite.

 

 

By late morning we’d made it as far as Ettrick Bay, the sky was clearing from the west and a steady NW breeze was giving some assist. Lunch was enjoyed in sunshine near Ardscalpsie Point with the jagged mountains of Arran as backdrop. From Ardscalpsie to the beautiful Dunagoil Bay was a fun ride with following wallowing swell and wind.

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Here we decided to make use of the conditions to continue round the southernmost point, Garroch Head, and camp in Glencallum Bay after 30+km under the hull. An unexpected local dog-walker was only the second person spoken to on the entire trip!

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The wind was still pushing from the west on the final morning and we had a quick crossing of the mouth of the Clyde via the lighthouse complex on Little Cumbrae and the appropriately named Gull Point. Interestingly, on the crossing we experienced two different swells coming at approximately 90 degrees to each other and producing unusual waves. Arrival back at Portencross was right on high tide giving an easy exit. Overall, an excellent trip with Bute providing a surprising amount of interest and variety.

John

Derwentwater

 7th July 2020

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John G, Simon and Heather M, Helen M, Mike P, Chris B and Juliette, but sadly John S the organiser felt unwell, so we thought we were going to be 5.  As it turned out, we were 7, as both Simon and Chris brought their partners, so we paddled as a 4 and a 3.  As we got ready in the Kettlewell carpark, we noticed John was already on the water.  He had paddled upstream to Grange (30mins) and back (20mins) as a pre-trip burnout!  

We started about 6:45pm and paddled up the Derwent to a footbridge near the Lodore Hotel.  Derwentwater is a fascinating lake as there are about 10 islands and different mountain views all the way round.  One, Derwent Island, has a large private house on it, open to the public 5 days per year.  After a picnic on the west side we paddled around this, returning about 9pm after a clockwise paddle.  

As we packed up we were rewarded with a fantastic sunset.

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Mike P

Evening Social Paddle on Windermere:

 8/7/20

“Meet at 6pm in the layby above Millerground” was the plan…timing was great by all, but it has become a much busier place and so a couple of cars were left at Rayrigg…at least the parking machines weren’t working!

The decision was to don cag or not to don cag…perfectly calm but slight rain.

P7080001.JPGSo off we set in a southerly direction, raindrops in the water quite atmospheric with open water swimmers and SUP’s also about and enjoying the evening.

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After an exploration down the west side of Belle Isle and the bay west of The Ferry House, we returned via the east side of Belle Isle.

John was keen to make full use of the fresh water to practice his rolling at the end…and still a flat calm evening.

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Paddlers were Ray C, Matt W, Chris B, John H, Rob H, Robin E.

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River Wenning,

4th July 2020      Paddlers: Simon and John H

I was lucky to have a shuttle provided by my good wife (Zsuzsi) on the promise of ice cream after in Kirkby Lonsdale.  John was doing his own shuttle by bicycle.  Joining the river at Clapham station, a strong, smooth current made for quick progress.  We had 18km to cover and I’d told Zsuzsi we’d be about 2 hours.  Maybe that was optimistic (it took us nearly 3).

The Wenning is pretty wide, so despite overhanging trees and numerous trees down and blocking the river, we only had to portage one blockage.  We’d pulled out to have a look, and decided since we were out, we might as well just get on past it, 10m further downstream.  Later on, an apparently blocked right channel and middle tree strainer, combined with my indecision, caused some mildly frantic paddling to get left.  Looking back up, the right channel was clear too, and the drama was unwarranted.

Apart from picking the way through trees, there’s little to test your skills, but great fun on long waves trains, washed out weirs and surf holes.  This was the first time I’d been in my main white-water boat in over twelve weeks, so I was glad of the minimal consequences.

Chatting and rolling practice was abruptly ended by the approaching noisy weir.  This was the first of two, vertical and looking powerful.  It was slightly weaker on the far right with a nice eddy below and an accessible bank.  John was first, slowly dropping over, getting pulled back a bit, but brute force seeing him through.  I got a run up, caught an edge on the tow back, turned and promptly flipped.  I’m often glad of my helmet, as I was today when it got a sharp smack on the face of the weir.  There was little point rolling unless I fancied another smack, so I pulled the deck immediately.  The pressure wasn’t strong enough to hold a person, but it had a good go at keeping hold of my kayak, requiring John (anchor), a rope, and a swim to grab hold of it.  I was fine, although slightly disappointed in my ineptitude, and loss of my coffee flask.

IMG_20200704_124259.jpgSlightly further down there’s a much bigger weir, four metres high, sloped on the right, stepped on the left.  I’d taken note of Pete’s cautionary comment on rain chasers, which was at a very similar level.  We got out to inspect.  A three-metre tow back on the sloped section, an obstructed top step on the left, a huge crashing, boily mess below, a definite portage for us.

 

It looks even worse as we walked by with barely enough space to squeeze a kayak passed the blockage on the top step.

The Wenning Special Wave by Wennington was in full force, although I didn’t recognise it from above, it was fun just ploughing through the middle into a wall of water.  As the grade eased, the bird spotting started, catching a glimpse of a kingfisher, sand martins, a heron, and a pair of sandpipers.  I was keeping a close eye out for the final weir at Hornby, which can be dangerous.  Today it was just a big wave.  Zsuzsi and the girls were waiting with the camera.  A fun splash through the mess under the bridge and we were done for the day.

 

If I were paddling the Wenning at 1.1 again, I’d consider 1.1m a safe high level.  The main two weirs, I would just portage them both.  At lower levels, I’m sure they are fine, but they’re just too powerful at this level and not worth the risk.  Otherwise it’s a good, safe, high water run.
Simon

Up the Lune- and back

Glasson to Skerton Weir and back. 10th July 2020

It’s always sad to see a pub closed – but on this occasion it gave us the opportunity for a free car park opposite the pay and display and closer to the water. It’s the little wins in life!

This was the first of the Easy River runs which Cumbria Canoeists had started last year and which LCC are now organising. Mike S, our leader for the afternoon, had planned a tide assisted round trip up from Glasson Dock to Skerton for Chris S, Stu M, Tom P, Julian and Eric. 

After narrowly avoiding a very threatening looking squall, we headed down to the waters edge for some comedy launching. With the tide not quite high enough there was a few metres of nasty sucky mud to catch the unwary and fill yer boots and boats. Chris had to be dug out!

Once on the water the skies cleared and we moved easily upstream. There were the usual wildlife suspects all around with large flocks of Redshanks performing mini murmerations and Swans looking quite protective of their young.

It wasn’t long before the forecast fresh breeze picked up and we were seeking shelter under the west bank for what it was worth. Once round the bend things got easier as we passed the New Quay; now sadly topped by a housing development. Up through town to the weir and a quick ferry glide across to the picnic site. Mike had planned a hike to the aqueduct for the picnic but the first small mutiny of the day had us staying put. Insistent on an aqueduct visit he led Tom, Julian and me off into the comically named Riverside Park in search of a route up. After thrashing around in brambles, nettles, thistles, industrial fencing and other more unsavoury stuff those of us in shorts (Tom, Julian and me) held a second small mutiny and headed back, leaving our leader clad in trousers and wellies to press on alone. Only a little late he reappeared with tales of daring do.

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Back on the water we were soon ploughing into a fresh headwind but with the tide and river flow in our favour we made good progress despite it feeling like a bit of a battle. On turning the right angle bend by the Golden Balls Inn the headwind became almost a tailwind, just perfect for the last few kilometres as we surfed along happily. The basin at Glasson is more exposed though and the tide and wind seemed to have got themselves into a bit of a muddle with waves seemingly in all directions. We’d separated into 3 pairs looking for the best approach route; Mike and Julian staying upwind on the north shore, Stuart and Chris stayed close to the south shore and Tom and I ploughed straight through the middle. “Don’t fall in now, don’t fall in now” came to mind.

But all got back without drama, actually with grins on faces! – Thanks Mike.

Eric

Where is Nethertown

Nethertown to St Bees Head and back – 2nd July 2020

It’s a long way to Nethertown, a very long way. But todays magnificent six  ( Mike H, Tom P, Rachel, Martin, Chris B and Eric) were all set and ready to go a little before the before the tide was, so it was a nice relaxed start.

No one had been to Nethertown before, Alan Ashby wasn’t even aware of it’s existence but it provides easy free parking, and a sloping cobbly slipway of a beach.Plastic boats slid easily to the water’s edge. So easy launches and we were off heading to St Bees with a little tide and a bit of wind to help us along and never a look back.

 

 

The conditions were very benign and a quick stop to de layer was the order of the day. Tom reported that there were considerably fewer birds on the cliffs than a couple of weeks ago. Nevertheless we were treated to the sights, sounds and smells of the colony, with.

 

Razorbills and gull varieties still in abundance. We were also treated (again) to Mr Hayward’s joke about poorer birds having to have their nests on higher perches!!

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All was going to plan as we checked out lunch spots just around the North Head. The choices were rocks or hard places with no suitable beaches but a little socially distanced teamwork saw all sandwiches ashore and dry. We watched Mr. Ashby’s group of paddlers heading back from Whitehaven to St Bees – same old, same old route, we smirked.

DSCN0739_1With the tide turned in our favour for the return we headed into an unplanned breeze. There was a short stretch your legs/play in the waves stop at St Bees before heading back south to Nethertown.

So south we went, where is Nethertown? soon large industrial buildings that weren’t there when we set off with never a look back, came into view. “There’s a railway station just before you get to it, that must be it that building there, no the train went straight past”. Eventually we spotted the station – more a bus stop really. Only another kilometre to go. Round the outside of Long Man Scar and yes, you can see the cars. There was a little sandy beach to land on; but then what seemed like half a mile of boulder field, a small inland sea (back in the boats again), more boulder field and eventually back to the sloping cobbly slipway, now about 10 times the size and sloping upwards this time!

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Everyone loaded up sweaty and knackered, but it was after the landing rather than the paddle – But the sun was shining and all was well. Thanks again to Mike.

Should you plan a trip from Nethertown (the clue is in the name) you might want to do a very short trip and get back whilst the tide is still in, or a very long one and wait for the next high tide.

Eric