The Phoenix trip

Well….out of the ashes (of the Kirkudbright Trip)…..rose …..the Thirlmere easy paddle.  

1894Conifer clad Thirlmere reservoir, in the shadows of Helvellyn, provides the city of Manchester with it’s water and was created in 1894, when the area was dammed and flooded, submerging the Lakeland villages of Amboth and Wythburn.  6.5 K long so we would have covered about 15k

It was hosted by Mike, and attended by Ray C, Julian C, Chris B, John S , Rob W.Firstly welcome to John Soady an experienced long time paddler (35yrs+), but a first time out with LCC.

Chris was also trying out his newly acquired Taran Rockpool (and loving it)

We all met at Armboth Car Park on time, making our individual contribution to North West Water (United Utilities) in the form of six individual parking payments of £4.50 for x4 hrs or over £7 for the day!! The charge for the car park! (Just rental , not buying it).

It was  a chilly but very bright and clear morning, with the remnants of the early mist just burning off nicely.

No handshakes, just a quick spray of Mike’s special lightly perfumed hand sanitizer and  a pleasant nod, followed by the pre-paddle briefing and update of the latest rules from LCC and BC.

We set off in wonderful conditions, bright blue skies, crystal clear air on a mirror like surface…..full 180 degree images of all the kayaks and the breath taking scenery in the water.

Right said Mike, in such perfect conditions a little bit of on the job training will go down well,  so we covered forward rudder strokes, and edging around the small islets/boulders that had appeared with the low water levels… was a great refresher and good to practise on a one to one basis, until we’d all got it or re-remembered it!

It was just a great slow cruise around the shore line, we took a very gentle lunch on the island of Haws Howe at the south end, then a serene cruise up to the dam, until a single Eurofighter screamed overhead and the air positively fizzed … did Mike’s fuse as we were all nearly deafened!

However the pilot did a super aerial display of how edging works as he disappeared over the end of the lake.

We were soon back to the car park, about four and a half hours after departure. A very uneventful but lovely day out!  Thanks to all for your company

Ray Clark

Ure we go again

Rain Wednesday and more forecast for Thursday we headed for Swaledale, where we found insufficient flow. So over Buttretubs to Wensleydale and off down the Aysgarth section of the Ure 0.66 on the gauge.

The bimbly grade 3 starters loosened our muscles before taking the first fall at Aysgarth.

Tempting though they were, portages interrupted short paddling sections between the main falls

Just after the main course a long long rapid ends in a small fall.

Intermittent grade 3 rapids with easier flow lead to Redmire falls

Then more often same before the mellow float to the egress bridge.

Mike H, Brain Pete Mark M.


Monday 21st John S spots a fallen tree in the river Mint just downstream from Laverock Bridge. A big tree 1.5 m diameter. The Team kicks in. Tuesday Phil C finds locates the landowner and gains permission to remove the tree. Wednesday. Dave brings the chainsaws and with PhiL And John S assisting. 4 hours later- job done. Thanks to all for having and offers of help. Good job Dave!

The Leven Bore +

 A grand day out – Sunday 20 Sept.

Total distance 32km – 5hrs 50mins…..and disappointingly only burned off 1091 calories (if we believe Simon L’s special watch )….felt like 5000 calories

Rob H, Mark G, Simon L and Paul H all arrived within minutes of each other at Canal Foot , next to the Bay Horse Inn. It was a beautiful, pretty well windless day, with cool clean air, affording wonderful views past Chapel Island and into Morecambe bay, turn 180 degrees and even more wonderful views across Plumpton Viaduct into the Southern Lakeland Hills

Tide was 10.1M @ 14:12hrs, but with a big range (0.2M low). We set off onto the water at our planned time of 11:00hrs, and paddled out on the last of the ebbing tide to Chapel Island, very shallow in places and we did a little bit of walking, before making land fall at Chapel Island…..brew time said Rob! (some surprise here then!).

Just got unfurled……it’s coming ……jumped back in the boats and at 12:00hrs we were on the Bore, probably about 300mm high across a fairly wide front, had a good run for 5 or 10 mins, before it faded, only to reform about 2-3 mins later closer to the Bay Horse Inn….it was narrowing that point and so started to gather some more height (400mm ish)and momentum.

I was feeling warm so I thought going inverted was a great idea!……..had to de-mount and re-mount (thanks Rob!) and was soon chasing it again.

We then approached the Big Dipper (Mk1), Plumpton viaduct on the way in……just paddle ( good advice Rob!) ….the tide was ripping through already! We all made it through cleanly and  were then being quickly ferried in on the tide which was by now building significant momentum, and soon passing into first bay (opposite Cark caravan park).

Brew time (said Rob….again ) and we made our first landfall at Roundsea wood bluff…..15 mins later, and we were on our way past Greenodd car park, and so onto the smaller Big Dipper of Greenodd foot bridge….it was still interesting under there, and the group spent some fun time in the turbulence.

Carrying on into the Rusland Pool entrance……suddenly water serenity…..just a fast moving but calm smooth ride….

We then called it a halt…….about 3 hrs in at 19.7km clocked…..up on the bank and lunch time (and a cup of tea Rob!).

Simon managed to have a small common lizard climb onto this leg whilst sitting the grass, but unfortunately it has gone before the iphone camera was ready. Just after high water we set off back….the first challenge was doing a Limbo under Hay Bridge….Simon thought better of it and carried his boat over, Paul just did it with a bit if wobble…but nearly. Reasonably uneventful, but pleasant long paddle home UNTIL ….now this is the good bit……..Plumpton viaduct at full ebb…..well we could all hear it, we could sort of see it……just bloody paddle (said Rob in his re-assuring tone)……we did, it was probably 3-4’ drop into a very large set of after waves with enormous turbulence……but we all got through…..there were however serious players amongst us….Rob, Simon and Mark who could resist the play thing…..but it was spectacular under there!

Paul and I decided the Bay Horse was more our thing after 6 hrs out!

But a fantastic day, windless, bright sunshine clear blue skies, with incredible scenery at every turn ……and the company was OK!




Arnside bore

With a 10.12, high water at 13.30 much promise was anticipated.

Mike H, Ricard M, Sten, John S, Ray C, all departed from Arnside in sea kayaks with a force 3 gusting 5 NE wind going the outflowing river.

The channel s this year have been rather different than the ‘norm’ so we soon found ourselves off Silverdale rather than Grange. The distance being much shorter and wind assisted we ‘arrived at a typical wait for the bore spot’ after only an hour. So onwards into the Bay, a lang right curve then shallows, and finally a rifle flow– but wait, the son to be incoming tidal will push us across wet sand and not back the way we came. Umm NE force 5! a quick wade seemed easier.

Soon after a white line appeared to the south and to east across the sand. The birds went up and we were surfing

The wave 80m wide. A few hundred metres of joy then it subsided, no on enjoys why, we followed. In the next few km it came and went, twice.

As we approached New Barns bay another breaking bore wave, in the far west channel to our left, caught us up. The waters merged until the breaking wave reformed, much bigger than before, with maybe a 40cm wave – quite powerful, it tested the skills. A SUP had just paddle out, soon he was swimming. In places a steep green section pushed us on. Big smiles. As if the wave thought it had given enough, it subsided again. We headed right, to our egress at the promenade end.

All in all, a bit of a different trip into the bay. The last section much more challenging but always worth a paddle hint the bay. We wondered why SUP never were buoyancy aids- maybe the riders just don’t sink!

Mike H

Greenodd to Roa Island

Friday 18th Sept.

This was billed as a 4 to 5 hour continuous paddle down the coast from Greenodd to Roa Island, keeping well out to sea in order to avoid getting caught on sandbanks. It sounded like it could be `full on`; but it turned out to be one of the more relaxed LCC sea kayaking trips I’ve been on. With the shuttle set up we were in plenty of time at Greenodd to enjoy a chat with the local fishermen (yes, all men of a certain age!) about what they hoped to catch – flounder, plaice, sea bass, effing anything!  What we had in common was a desire to see the incoming tide arrive. There was also time for an early lunch which seemed a good idea given the long paddle ahead. With a 9.8m tide predicted the coffee coloured water surged up the channel to everyone’s delight. Once the ferocity of flood flow and associated eddies had subsided we quickly got on the water in warm sunshine.

Steady progress was made towards Levens viaduct where it was quite clear that the ebb was now giving us a helpful `push`.

.The next target on the horizon was the prominent rocky islet called Chapel Island, where two peregrine falcons were giving the local wading birds a hard time and one even gave us a close inspection.

Carrying on past the coastal villages of Bardsea, Baycliff and Aldingham we remained well over a kilometer off-shore and didn’t encounter any sandbank issues.

The south-easterly breeze was beginning to pick up and the sea with it, but it didn’t hinder progress south with the characteristic outline of Peil Castle becoming more prominent on the horizon.

Before long we were debating the best bearing to take in order to safely avoid the shingle ridge of Foulney Island which projects 2km into the bay on the north side of Walney Channel. A negotiated solution was agreed. By this stage the brisk wind, long fetch and shallow water were resulting in sizable waves right on the beam, causing more than a few urgent brace strokes to be performed.

Rounding Foulney was an ornithological highlight as we ploughed into huge rafts of eider ducks which were probably feeding on the mussel beds growing on rocky skeers with names such as Blackamoor Ridge, Conger Stones and Foulney Twist. Eider were joined by a flock of twisting knott, redshank, curlew and a skein of light-bellied brent geese, these recently returned from breeding grounds in eastern Canada.

The final kilometre was against the ebb flow down Walney Channel but we did the sensible thing and headed for whatever counter-current there might Vital statistics:  23.5km paddled in 3hrs 13 mins at an average speed of 7.3kph.  This was well under the estimated time, probably because of the helpful wind direction, the Spring tide and strong tidal assist when most needed. And maybe also the physically honed paddlers taking part?!

Paddlers; Mike Hayward, John Speakman, Brian Clough & John Hooson



13th September 2020

River: Lune, classic section from Crook of Lune bridge (Lowgill) to Rawthey confluence Level: 0.5m

“This is going to be a scape” I thought, getting out of my boat after getting stuck on the shingle.  I’d just watched Mark sail over the same spot.  The guide has .5 at low, it’s accurate.  Only the first 500m is tedious.  Soon the river narrows and deepens, opening up a world of narrow slots and micro eddies to play in.  Brian had great “fun” trying to hit challenging eddies on the first major rapid, finding himself upside down thrice.  The carry back to the top over sharp, slippery stone slabs is not to be repeated!

This isn’t a long section of river, 8km give or take.  We were determined to get the most out of it.  Surfing every wave, trying to hit every eddy, hitting every rock.  John’s stone was particularly problematic, barely boat width either side.  Ian got through expertly, but somehow tipped in below, a failed roll leading to a frustrating swim.  Brian had some more fun inspecting the riverbed further down, but again, got his roll on the 2nd attempt, and carried up for another go.

John and I landed above the strid to inspect, and watched, with surprise, as Ian dropped straight in to the first drop.  I believe he was aiming for the eddy below for an easier inspection.  Instead he tested his helmet on the rocks and put a gash in his thumb.  Brian and Mark shooting on after his boat after checking he was ok.  They managed to rescue it before the main drop.  Some sticky plaster, boat ferrying, and rock scrambling later, John and I were off down the strid.  Despite finding a couple of the stone walls, we were safely through.

From here on is numerous grade 2 rapids, each tricky in their own right due to narrow and shallow channels.  I wasn’t personally willing to risk Broadraine Weir, so portaged and setup safety below.  The others found an easy line through on the far right.  The rest of the trip consisted of rolling practice and a long, steep walk up the bridleway to the cars.

Definitely a river worth doing at this level.  There are endless little eddies, small play waves and rock boofs.

Paddlers: Brian, Mark H, Ian M, Simon, John H

Intro to River Paddling 1

Saturday 12th Sept.  Leven.

10am at the appropriately named Newby Bridge saw an anxious group of paddlers new to moving water assembled for the first of a series of 4, Introduction to River Paddling, sessions.

The sessions are coached by DaveG under the watchful eye of MarkH. The motley crew had varying amounts of paddling experience in a range of craft but all were relatively new to bumpy rivers. Motley Crew – Cat, Zsusui, Kate, TomR and RobW.

There were a few nervous faces when people looked out to the weir as boats were readied; and the relief was palpable when in the briefing it was pointed out that the start would be upstream to the flat waters towards Windermere.

About 50 metres upstream of the hotel we practised basic strokes and learned safety signals watched by the early day drinkers soaking up the Autumn sunshine on the lawns. No dramas to report so we set off downstream.

Back under the bridge and over the weir – sounds simple, but for many it was a first weir! All over without too much drama and time for a quick stop at the put in to adjust seats and footrests  and maybe underwear.

Dave talked us through how to tackle the Brickshoot without overshooting and doing Mill Force at the same time. “Just line up between the two pillars and don’t stop paddling” says he, “and please stop at the little rocky island” – which we did, again without drama. We got out to have a look at Mill Force, talk about a learning curve! – it was starting to feel vertical.

We watched as Dave and Mark made things look easy; same advice as before, just keep paddling! The dilemma, to shoot or to portage, both options were readily available. Some chose to give it a go with differing levels of success ranging from completely dry to extremely wet – but as Dave said it wasn’t a difficult swim. The persistent tried again with more success.

With the difficult bit over we were starting to enjoy the whiter parts and everyone was so disappointed to hear that todays trip was going to stop before the Graveyard. – but there are three weeks left to go.

Dave wrapped up the first session with everyone looking forward to next week on the Leven with an opportunity for skills practice at rugby club midweek thrown in too. 

Thanks to Dave and Mark for their patience and guidance, and to everyone for making a great first experience.


Midweek sea kayak trip – Walney

Sept 1st.

A wondrous day was had, paddling 22 km along the Piel and Walney Channels, between Walney Island and Barrow.

As we headed north from the Lifeboat Station at Roa Island on the flood tide the sky was blue, the wind light and the sea air invigorating.

 With our local historian, “Ray” we were guided past the port service for the Morecambe Bay wind farms and gas facilities.  We paddled under the towering sheds where submarines are being built, then under the Jubilee Bridge and to our lunch stop at the Walney Meetings. There we heard about the steel-work slag heaps that glowed at night in days gone by. 

We journey south to the light shrill of birds on the salt marshes, and landed peacefully on Piel Island to visit the impressive keep built by the Furness Monks to monitor trade to and from Ireland and the Isle of Man.  The day was then capped with a safely positioned visit to the seal colony on the point of Walney Island, where four inquisitive grey seals came out within 5 m to see who were.  

Yes, a great day, full of interest, great weather and great company.  

Many thanks to Mike and all those who join in.