Saturday 22nd August. Mike H, John H, Brian, Mark H, Mark Mc and Ian Mc arrive at the footbridge enter Ure 3km above Aysgarth. At 04.03 the gauge reading a ridiculous 1.93. But now it was just on high 1.31, bank full and flowing fast. Flattish water enabled us to get used to the speed of flow before class 3 rapids started, big bouncy wave trains and slabby slides.
3km but only 20 minutes later we egress river left to contemplate the entry drop at Aysgarth. Lots of lines spotted but the level of interest at paddling, less so.
So the long portage began, around the middle ledge and past the lower falls. The river regained before 300m brought us to the ever so impressive lower triple drop. guarded by a big hole. and larger one on a ledge below. Another portage today.
What follows, quite intimidating from above is 1km of fast, class 3 irregularly bouncy and full of interest getting steeper out of sight at the bottom then over a small 2m drop, what fun. Ian came a cropper on the final drop, but throw lines in action minimised wet time and boat nudges into tress just downstream. Now less steep but still fast flowing fun, a few more sledge to negotiate.
Redmire force, class 5 at this level, a series of 3 river wide ledges. the first possible, the second, a fully river wide suck back below a 2-3 m ledge. Another short portage.
More fast flowing easy water interspersed with with more bouncy fun brought to Wensley bridge in just under 3 hour for 24km. The gauge having fallen to 1.09.
An interesting diversion firm the usual rocky Cumbrian Becks.
Having taken the day off work I was hoping we might get some rain for Mike’s Friday river trip. Looking at the levels early Friday morning wasn’t making good reading, and I had wondered wether I’d made the right decision. That said rain was still falling. After some head scratching an agreement to check on levels again at midday was made, and this proved a good move. The Rawthey was up, not high but enough, so a 1.15pm meet at Sedbergh new bridge was made.
Shuttles sorted and swiftly up to the put in, we were soon on the water. Turns out just as the river flow peaked.
Narrow and fast moving the river has you on your toes straight away. Fun G3 to start, with a few bedrock falls mixed in. Blubell drop brought the first big smile
The first real test is Backside Beck fall, a tricky drop where trying to follow Mike down the left I failed to negotiate a couple of boulders and ended up in reverse over the rocks avoiding the hole and having to execute a roll🙃. The others all did the sensible thing and eddied out on the right before one by one following Mikes line. I’ll remember that next time.
Onwards through more pleasant rapids until the river sweeps back on itself and then turns 180 degrees. Loup falls. This three tier drop we ran hard right. The trick here is to keep it hard right all the way.
Well the first two drops were fine but realising I wasn’t going to make the slot for the last drop I needed to back paddle quickly and drop off over the middle Rocky section. This as it turned out wasn’t so bad. Everyone through nicely showing me how it should be done there was just Ian to come, doing exactly as I had done except momentarily getting stuck on top ofthe last drop. A bit of fidgeting around and he was freed.😉
With still lots of interest all the way we were soon at the Gorge section, a few drops and more rapids this gorge then ends with a nasty looking twisty slot. Everyone out to inspect Mark H quickly decided he would give it a miss. First up was Brian and with Mark H in his kayak ready in case Brian made it look so easy. Then it was Mike’s turn and with Ian,Dave and myself looking on Mike was slammed hard into the rocks and need to roll up. It didn’t look pretty but he was fine and no injuries 🤕(although a mystery dent in his mamba bow was discovered the next day).
At this point Ian wisely decided “that’s me, I’m not doing it”. Slight pause then before I decided I’ll go for it. My run ended in similar fashion minus the rock bashing but still needed a roll. Finally Daves turn and like Brian was flawless. Off we went then enjoying what was left to come chatting along the way.
We then came upon a Hebblewaite Hall Gill that joins from the left and runs under the A683. Dave enticed us all to have a go at this fun narrow, fast moving slide. One by one we all dragged out boats up the tunnel to give it a go, which would have been ok but for one rock that was getting in the way and spoiling the fun. Each of us having an encounter with it. Mine ending in another dent in the bow 😂.
Soon we were at the egress and I have to say I throughly enjoyed every minute and can’t wait to paddle it again.
Big thanks to all for any advice and for Mike’s leadership.
Level was 1.46 when we put on which was plenty.
Paddlers on the day, Mike, Dave G, Mark H, Ian, Brian and Myself.
At 0500 the Ulpha gauge was showing around 0.8…..and falling. This was my first time on the Duddon, and the short Tarn Beck into the Duddon felt shallow at the start – the gauge now at 0.7. Wondering if the 2 hour drive from Skipton was going to be worth more gouges on my new boat. Well it was.
A really warm day, what a merry, convivial trip. Swim total – 1. Upside downs – none. Nearly upside downs – quite a few! We smiled and laughed and engaged politely with the bank dwellers: fishermen; bathers; picnicking families; bridge jumpers; and other eager young boys. And hopefully persuaded some naive parents that launching their 12 year old son onto the fast flowing river in his new micro play boat (no buoyancy aid or ‘owt)….wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
The harder rapids inspected – otherwise the rocks confined the flow to give plenty of great fun read and run. The final rapid dealing with each attempt in it’s own mysterious and unpredictable way.
“The water doesn’t wait.” 3 ½ hours later, we got off at 0.65. Getting rather low. Mike’s wise urgency paid off.
This is a wonderful river. I’ll be back.
Trip members – strictly speaking ‘2 bubbles’. Mike H, Pete R, Sue, Tom P, John H, Rick Stanton, Mark H and Grant.
The improvers group of John S, Oscar, Eric and our newest member, Pete R’s mate Rick, assembled at the old bridge under the watchful eyes of Mike H, Pete R and Dave.
Pete and Dave put in above the bridge to get their excitement in first by warming up down the Grade IV bit whilst the rest of us scrambled down the bank to the calmer waters on the other side of the main road.
With the gauge at 1.0 and falling five hours earlier, 0.88 as we set off the main challenge of the first bit was not to trip over the many sneaky little rocks which were appearing.
Oscar took an early tumble but was soon back in the boat again (the flexibility of youth!) and we were off down to inspect the bouldery bit by the island.
Eric managed a comedy disembarkation at this point (the inflexibility of old age!). Once inspected everyone was safely through albeit with varying levels of elegance of execution.
The sun shone, the views up to the Howgills were beautiful and the wildlife didn’t disappoint; herons, dippers, sandpipers, and geese and ducks various. It’s weird to imagine that all that traffic on the nearby, but almost unseen M6, is probably blissfully unaware of all this – fortunately!
The conditions gave ample opportunity to practice basic skills with one or two bumpy sections thrown in and the ever present sneaky rocks a reminder to keep the concentration going.
A couple of play waves towards the finish rounded off a perfect first improvers trip of the season.
The final mini drama of the day was John’s boat making a bit for freedom as he climbed up the bank.
a note on the Friday evening session at Killington New Bridge 14th Aug.
On a warm evening, four met at Killington Bridge to see if there was any water to play with. A perfect evening to cool down with several swimmers enjoying the water, not kayak swimmers!
The flow up to the first small rapid was idea to warm up, with a lack of river paddling since lock-down. But after half an hour we decided to seek more excitement further up stream. We carried boats upstream for about 500m to above the third set of rapids then launched into some faster moving and more exciting streams. This then gave the opportunity to practice our moves. No great drama just a chance to test our boats and try out the new club Machno, kindly provided by Pyranha Kayaks. Everyone was impressed with its manoeuvrability and stability. Very steady breaking in and out of the faster flows. Perhaps taking away a little of the fun and uncertainty of our older boats. Back down to the Bridge by 8pm, although a struggle to persuade everyone to get off the water as it was such a perfect evening. One to repeat. ( Water level 0.49. just about works with a walk upstream.)
Thanks to Pete G, Julian C, and new member Jason G for joining JohnS. (NO Swimmers!)
Rats, Beer Drinking Wasps, Some Careful Planning, and 34 Miles in a Day….and a Night! Morecambe Bay Unveiled…Roe Island to Fleetwood / Fleetwood to Roe Island
Andy Murphy, Rob Hitchmough and Pete Riley met up at Roe Island in plenty of time for a 10.30 kick off. 2 principle planning aims: 1. Reach the ‘Danger Patch’ marker buoy on the ebb tide for approximately 1400, approximately 12 miles away (** See below) to pick up the flood. 2. Swing sufficiently wide enough west to miss the significant shallows (Mort Bank etc).
Andy called the Fleetwood coastguard to reconfirm the plan he had informed them about the day before, so we set off paddling.
After seeing 1 grey seal, a few seagulls, a school of porpoise and had a picnic,
After seeing 1 grey seal, a few seagulls, a school of porpoise and had a picnic, we arrived at Danger patch at the book suggested time of 1340, with a strong ebb (2 knots) still taking us out to sea! No fear. After spotting a group of locals closer to the shore waiting for the flood, we took their lead and took advantage of the significant eddy leading us towards our destination. An opportunity to stretch our legs we picnicked on shore with our new Lancastrian friends until the obvious flood. Then a great ride in to the old Wyre light and up the estuary at high speed to our prospective bivvy at Knott end. I wonder why we chose not to go to Fleetwood? A very calm crossing throughout. I wondered if we would be so lucky on the return? I know you shouldn’t mock the unfortunate, but we stood for some while, with amusement, watching the Knott End / Fleetwood ferryman trying to return his beached craft, full of passengers, to an adequate depth of water.
Gear out to dry in the hot sun, we sat eating and drinking, the unashamed of us still shirtless at 2000 hrs. Watched inquisitively by a curious rat from the comfort of the grassy bank that Rob had proposed to camp on! The wasps too, enjoyed our beer – the 3 of us all experiencing the yellow and black vespidae swimming, and presumably drinking, within our cans of ale.
Plan B, which had been mooted, was to return on the back end of the ebb at midnight, instead of waiting until the next morning. Various weather forecasts consulted, and not looking forward to sharing our bivvy with our winged and rodent friends, we recharged with various nutrition and some beer, and waited until midnight to make the return. The flood was expected at 0220.
On the water at 1155 and into a rather black moonless night for a significant ebb, we knew we would be very early for the 0220 flood that would assist us northwards. 1 hour and 5.2 miles later, and after some interesting tussles with the outsized wind over tide waves****, each time crashing unexpectedly over our bows (as we couldn’t see them), we were back at our familiar Danger Patch, nearly 1 ½ hours early.The phosphorescence was rather impressive too. 3m long streams of green light defining our own bow waves.
2 more hours and 7 miles later – tolerating the darkness, a gentle ebb and a disturbed sea – and aiming for marker buoy Sea 2, we hit the main shipping lane into Barrow for the start of the flood. ***
3 miles later and a total of 4 hours and 15 miles after setting out, we pulled up at Piel Island for an 0430 celebratory chinwag and beer, and a 2 hour kip. Breakfast on the pub benches we made the short crossing in the sun to our vehicles on Roa Island.
Our final call to the coastguard….another cup of tea….. What a trip. A superb adventure, never boring, and certainly something I’ll do again.
This isn’t a journey for those seeking towering cliffs, cavorting otters and pods of minke whales. However the interest of this trip shouldn’t be under-estimated.Countless, familiar identifiable land feature, some sea life, and a real planning challenge make this a superb doorstep adventure. And with a 150 mile shuttle by road, it’s somehow crying out for the return sea journey
A big thanks to Andy for his gentle but inspired leadership and to Rob for his solid, experienced approach and camaraderie.
Trip size – 3 was a good number. 4 would be fine. But there’s every reason to paddle tightly together as a strong team. 6 might be pushing it a little? (And bearing in mind the limited options for a bivvy in Knott End if required.)
We made good notes on buoyage details and mentally rehearsed lights and patterns on the relative safety of the wasp & rat prom. We had easy written and electronic access to finer detail too, had we needed it. Travelling back north, there are dozens of flashing markers in the north to confuse the mind; and a choppy sea and the near pitch black isn’t the place to be working through the essential first principles.
Both legs, we deliberately swung west – the extra 2 or 3 miles mitigating the concerns of running aground – like theTorrey Canyon – helplessly helpless, and trying to hit tidal deadlines.
Timing the flood on the outward leg – Jim Kravieki’s book predicted 1340 in the south of the bay. Navionics predicted 1420. We settled to split the difference at 1400. The flood actually started later. If early, use the eddy created by the long Wyre Light spit to make progress.
*** It proved useful to leave early for the return, getting more of a boost from the ebb to Danger Patch. The continued ebb as we headed roughly north didn’t impede too much as it is quite weak and hits you obliquely. Potentially it is helpful as it naturally keeps you west of the shallow banks.
We made the trip on neap tides. Necessary as it limits the shallowness of the shallows.
**** Andy had suggested we took the main shipping channel all the way to Danger Patch from Knott End. A good idea as it happened as it minimised the wind over tide issues. Diligently and regularly peering over our backs looking out for stealthy, unwanted vessels leaving Heysham at an antisocial hour.
For further planning details please contact one of us. Happy to talk through the finer points.
Rob H clearly loves paddling around Walney – and why not, it’s his local water and he knows it well. So, only five days after leading a successful if `lumpy` LCC trip, here he was again, this time joined by Tom P, John S, Matt W and John H. There are many permutations to a circuit of Walney and tide times today suited the Earnse Bay put-in for an anti-clockwise journey.
Everyone had wheels to hand for the long-walk to the sea and a 10am grand depart. In contrast to the previous circuit, the day was calm, turbines static, and most opted to paddle in t-shirts. The benign sea conditions enabled fast progress down the outer coast, so-much-so that we arrived at Piel Island at noon and before the northerly flow had really picked up – so time for a leisurely lunch sitting outside the pub whilst enjoying warm sunshine and the vast skies.
Back on the water, enjoying a powerful assist up the channel and chatting about the industries that utilise this important feature, with small motorboats powering out to sea or returning back home. One such boat was heading towards our little flotilla and initially everybody thought it’ll see us and veer away – it didn’t. With the vessel approaching very quickly, kayaks started to take evasive action, only for the boat to follow the movement. Loud shouting was required and at the last minute this boat zipped by between the kayaks! We didn’t establish whether it was a deliberate attempt to intimidate or a lack of concentration/awareness. Whatever, it did get the heart racing!
Under Jubilee Bridge, through `the Meetings` and all was calm; less than 90 minutes since we’d left Piel Island. Time for rehydration and lunch leftovers on the north end of Walney where the sea holly plants provided a splash of colour in the dunes. By the time we relaunched the ebb flow had picked up but the overfalls were nothing to speak of and the paddle back to Earnse Bay very straightforward.
Many thanks to Rob, especially from Matt who’d never completed a full round previously – tick. Next time how about a clockwise circuit?
08/08/20 Intermediate/advanced river trip Peer trip
After putting the same trip on the calendar the week before I decided this time to just chance my arm with WhatsApp. This time I managed to snare two volunteers in the shape of Ian and Mark H. The usual arrangements were made and with all the rain early in the week the level was a very respectable 1.13 (medium).
Saturday afternoon paddle was the plan and we were treated to glorious sunshine, which made the whitewater look so inviting (Ian can vouch for that) 😁 .
Off we went then with us all enjoying the usual play spots and waves and a chance to catch up nattering between sections.
Everyone safely through the grave yard and onto the broken weir and then Back barrow bridge. Mark H first smooth as you like, me second with a huge slam and a high brace and then Ian, who we all agreed had the best line but unfortunately failed to execute his roll. No problem help was on hand and I’m sure it was only his pride that was dented. (The on-looking audience wouldn’t have helped 😉 ).
A quick portage round the G5 weir and onto the next tricky section. With swirling water and a nasty stopper to boof we were all a little apprehensive. Two through and Ian to follow, nothing wrong with his line or entry just unlucky, a massive back flip. A pause and then a brilliant roll this time couldn’t save him and the hole was determined to have him. Swimmer. After taking a bit of a beating that I’m sure felt like a lot longer Ian was thankfully washed out. No damage to Ian or equipment and nothing lost.
After a little bit of time on the river bank whilst Ian caught his breath, and some analysing of events we were soon on our way.
We all then managed to enjoy the remainder of the river with no more problems all agreeing it was well worth the effort.
Zeus being in charge of the weather was over generous with his rain allocation. The so called easy river trip was upgraded, due to water level and lack of knowledge of the river.
At 02.45 the level 0.16m
by 3.15 it was 1.06
by 05.15 1.55m
and still rising.
Not having paddled this section of river for many a year, caution would be required.
Lakeland CC? members travelled from Skipton, Ullswater, Preston and Carnforth to the designated egress. (Pete seeing not a drop of rain, the rest having to deal with flooded roads) only to find some workmen colouring in the footbridge with new paint. A new egress located just upstream before we shuttled to Appersett.
Launching through nettles and Gunnera into the swollen Widdale beck. Ducking under overhanging branches for 300m until the confluence with the Ure, where the speed picked up and some wave interest soon delved us to Hawes bridge. Long sweeping curves pushed us on down the luscious green Wensleydale valley. 100’s of oystercatchers mingled with herons, as the clouds deposited more rain, in the headwaters. The mud banks indicted the water had been 30cm higher not long before. Then the gradient increased and long continuous grade 2 waves sections, with hidden mud tussocks to catch you out. The occasional boulder and white lines added to the interest. Then the bridge at Bainbridge, with a sizeable pressure wave on the mid river parapet, left or right sporting large waves.
Soon after steep grassy sides provided a lunchtime ledge to enjoy the warming air and some banter. More flow brought some larger waves and eventually a river wide play wave. What super fun, which delayed our progress for a good half-hour.
Almost there, the wet line on the bank now showing 40cm, river level falling. On the outside of a bend a vertical 2m sand bank had recently eroded into the river, leaving a narrow ledge, on which a young lamb stood. Pete could not resist a lifetime of saving people and insisted we rescue it. Tom scrambled form this kayak to join the sheep, which promptly jumped in the river, only to scramble out on a narrower sandy ledge. Eventually Tom handled the sheep, but was unable to lift it up the high bank. By now Pete and Mark were atop the bank in the field, where they could grab the fleece to complete Tom’s lift. LOL. Pete then fell backwards with the sheep on top of him. The ewe then rewarded Pete by trampling him with it’s hooves in a bid to escape.
More meanders brought us to our cars. 15km floated in about 3 hours.
An easy river trip? well almost. The recce done, no fences. no trees across the river. Certainly one to repeat.
Sunday 2nd August- evening, the team of Tom, Eric with his new Etain, Julian, Mike H, Pete and Linda descended on Newton Farm campsite to be greeted by the news of there were no toilets! The sea looks along way out about 600m? Tom cogitated at his throne.
After a quick trip out to leave cars at The Dhoon picnic area next to Kirkcudbright Bay. The expanses of sand and mud and lack of obvious water made us wonder when the tide reaches this far?
Ah the incoming tide lessens the distance, but out came the wheels, with various degrees of success though hard softened rutted sand.
Setting off around 9.30 a.m and brisk paddle to Murray’s isles, Ardwall and Barlocco isle with a very gentle wind, less than forecast. After a brief stop to delayer the cliffs grew taller as the wind increased to force 3 and veered to the NW. This proved advantage as it now pushed us on nicely past Dove cave. The further East the waves increased slightly some now surfable.
Ross Island lighthouse nicely framed by a dip in the cliffs, brought us all too soon Brighouse Bay. Just past this, the incoming tidal flow was more noticeable and the waves were more frequently surfable. Then relief from the confusion as we headed in Ross sound to be confronted by a ferry glide against an outflowing current.
A long stint with rest, so lunch was taken. High water was about noon and we had no idea how long the water would remain ‘in’ at Dhoon. Now without wind assistance, the outflowing tide slightly against us but a calmer seas found us gliding across the interestingly named ‘Devils’ thrashing Floor. timing was perfect, as we arrive din time for a shot 50m carry to the cars.
We estimated that the water is sufficient to paddle to or from at Dhoon for 3 hours either side of high water.
Ice creams in Kirkcudbright were all the more welcome after queuing for 20 minutes behind rather large lady block edges doorway combined with a serve only one at a time policy.
Back at camp the warm wind dried kit ever so quickly. With no hint of the morrow.
Tuesday opened with forecast winds. The previously calms sea now festooned with whit froth as the wind gusts dup to force 8 SW. Accompanied by a deluge of precipitation, all enthusiasm dampened. Eric listened to Dusty Springfield singing “…thinking young and growing old, is no sin…..” but found the practicalities are slightly more painful after his first extended paddle. But apparently he’s coming back for more.