A Gentle trip down the Kent

An idea was discussed to have a gentle trip down the Kent to play on any waves and admire the autumn scenery.
The idea appealed to JohnS, EricD, MikeH,RobH, JohnH and our member from Huddersfield, MarkG.
Yellow weather warnings for heavy rain didn’t put us off. The level was adequate for a 10.30 start from Staveley with the Bowston gauge showing 0.46. The rain was falling gently and didn’t seem likely to stop. Steady progress down towards Cowan Head, Eric had one ghost to put to rest from a previous trip!

Job done, we glided on admiring the turning leaves. Portaged Cowan Head weir and rapid, it was looking a bit too gnarley for this Improvers trip. Back on and down to the Bowston weir which we portaged,

putting on below to run the interesting rapid below. Lines selected and executed successfully.

Soon at Burneside where Mike and Eric exited to leave 4 to carry on towards Kendal. 1pm and the Bowston gauge had risen to 0.90. The rising river had washed out the confluence with both the Sprint and the Mint so no waves to play on. So on through Kendal taking every chance to play on any small waves not yet washed out. All ashore at Scroggs weir by 3pm in steady rain. A gentle trip accomplished as planned with good company and no drama.

Where gorge monsters live !

Upper Duddon Sunday 25th Oct.

Mike H, Brain Mark H Mark M arrived at Birks bridge car park just after 11a.m. The gauge reading 1.13, a little on the high side to be honest. The narrow defile just upstream looked as frothy as the inside of an aero, and inviting as chewing aluminium foil. I swear we saw the head of some demon inviting us in.

(Pic courtesy of Dave G)

We declined the invitation and ingress just downstream. Ah there are still eddies- off into continuous grade 3/3+ where the first series of rapids draw you in- but oh beware the monsters trap, at this level the eddy above Troutal gorge is negligible, and would lead to running Troutal blind. Running it at all is indeed almost never a sensible option.

The river monster beckoned After a quick scout the far right line looked easiest (5) where a drop into an enclosed boily pool is still not inviting enough. The monster smiled. Again we declined and portage.

(Pic courtesy of Dave G)

Then the fun begins, all lovely grade 3+ one after other until cattle grid pool, where rocky sides grow, the channel narrows and gradient increases, read and run class 4, supper stuff, nothing serious it flows and flows.

Soon a fence, river right, caution Wallowbarrow gorge below. We inspect and begin to run it in 2 sections.

The second section involving 5 significant moves, each one slightly harder. After some indecision- a good thing, Mike decide it might just go. The thing I the monsters were at home. Rocky 1 went fine, awkward 2 brought an inadvertent stopper grab of the bow, slowing momentum, so that at the double drop of the third was entered slowly, and exit accompanied by a second attempt roll.

Barely time to gather thoughts and then 4, now insufficient speed to punch the hole and so over again. Time to bail, go right and luckily stopped in the bottom of a drop just above the main event, where Brian’s paddle brought relief. Wild smimming sounds great- but don’t try it here.

Suffice to say the monsters had their fun. Kayak retrieved some way downstream. The group decided to portage again. After regrouping, the class 3 to the Halls Bridge, now so easy in comparison,

A fun section, but… beware the monsters….

Mike H

Duddon on high

Promising rainfall the night before and during the morning had me excited at the thought of finally running the Clough, possibly even the upper. 

WhatsApp chats over, we all agreed to meet at Sedbergh and paddle the Clough egress. Even though it wasn’t up yet, it surely would be soon as it was raining heavily. Alas this wasn’t the case and with choices slim the only thing left was to make the trip back over to the Duddon. 

On arriving at Duddon bridge I checked the levels again, and yep it was still up, in fact it went higher than I expected. (Eventually reaching 1.2) big.😮

Putting in at Tarn beck we could see it was over the banks and in the trees.

A superb start with big bouncy wave trains and enjoyable boulder gardens had everyone smiling.

Through the waterworks and onto Jills folly then. No chance of running to the right as a large low tree branch was preventing this. To left it was then, everyone over the drop with no drama. That was until Amy failed a roll having been swallowed up in her Axiom. No problem we all thought, with Amy safely on the bank let’s just get her boat. 😕 Ha, with the river running fast it was off, and with little chance of pushing it to the bank (2 x failed attempts) there was no choice but to just gather it up after the gorge. This we did and with everyone back in our boats we continued. 

It was all familiar but big and fast. Each rapid opened up opportunities to try something different. 

Next up Rawford bridge which was on steroids and an inspection was mandatory. With everyone happy to run it we were soon descending. An exhilarating drop,  the extra volume only added to the fun. 

A portage round the weir and soon we were at Duddon bridge again.  All things considered and not having paddled the river before, paddlers Amy and Reg did brilliant.  Great fun level. 😁

Paddlers Mark H, Amy, Dave G, Reg and Mark M

Mark M

Finding our way down the Eden

Location: Lazonby to Armathwaite
Paddlers: Duncan, Julian, Mike P, Emma S, Simon L
Level: 0.79m

With the club minibus sorted for the shuttle (thanks Mike!), we were away in good time in the careful hands of Julian, our first river guide for the day.  Julian was one of the team who knew Eden and started off confidently pointing us down the left channel under the bridge and safely down the introduction rapids.  These improver sessions have been great for my skills, mainly because we spend so much time practicing and playing.  Julian was keen to keep this tradition up, encouraging the team to enjoy the friendly surf waves.  The Eden is great for surf practice.  Duncan clearly enjoyed his time, showing he’s definitely done this before!

The next 2km section was picked up by Duncan.  It’s interesting to see each person’s different approach to finding their way.  Duncan, careful and collaborative.  More surfing ensued, Mike handing out tips to his fellow Machno pilot.  I’ve never been great at surfing, but was certainly getting somewhere today.  Tail squirt practice proving less successful, seeing both Duncan and I practicing our rolling rather than our tailies.  Mike was next up with his usual laid back approach and the task of finding us a lunch spot.  Sitting by Croglin Beck, Julian, Emma and Mike head of for a look at the falls.  I preferred my warm coffee and a rest to the stroll, despite Mike’s encouragement.  The pictures looked pretty.


Setting off after lunch, Mike showing the way, armed with a warning on the potential pinning hazard below, we passed it with barely a notice.  I forget just how many rapids there are on this section.  I keep thinking “it’s going to be flat now for a while”, then it isn’t.  Emma was taking us down the next section and expertly plotted and scouted our way through, probably the longest rapid of the day.  You can’t quite get a full view of it, even out of the boat.  The eddie below provides a good viewing spot and safe hop onward.  A had the distance down at around 8km, we were way past that now, eventually clocking up 15km.  A full 7km of messing about on rapids!  I relieved Emma, mindful of Armathwaite weir ahead.

I would actually have been better letting her carry on, as the next rapid I totally messed up.  An eddie I thought was there, wasn’t, it was a flow heading right, just very shallow.  Mike had a line on the left, and after some uncertainty, everyone (but me) managed to get on it.  I hopped out, dragged across the rocks and hopped back in.  Unfortunately, somehow in the process I filled my boat with water.  It had been leaking all day, but this was rather more than expected.  A brief pause to empty and apologies for my terrible line, and we were on our way.  Luckily I hadn’t put them off too much and we were soon inspecting Armathwaite weir from the rocks, river centre.

Today we had a good level for the weir.  Two kayakers ahead were spotted getting out river right to portage giving us the benefit of spectators below.  Picking our lines, I head on first, it was a bit scrapy, but went to plan.  Everyone else down one by one, Julian getting exactly the line he had aimed for and looking very pleased with himself.  Emma gets pulled toward the hole on the right, but easily punches through.  A brief scout of the (much reduced) tree in the rapid below, and we were on to the get out.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the challenge of navigating down the river, with Mike and Duncan managing confidently despite it being a new river for them.  A great day out, loads of surfing and skills work and the most beautiful of rivers in full autumn colours.  The pictures just don’t do it justice.

Six go to Lairg – ah no we went to Devon

Deposit paid many months ago, for a week in Lairg – then Empress Sturgeon pulled the plug. The Welsh authorities were taking a similarly dim view on visitors so we invoked plan B. A huge 1624 built farmhouse near Newton Abbot in Devon….with some of the SW river classics close by.

Alas, the rain gods hadn’t noticed that we had arrived with our healthy quiver of boats, so we were forced to spend 2 days exploring the challenging Dartmoor hills on out mountain bikes, whilst waiting for some wetness.

River 1 – day 3. A reasonable downpour through the night saw us on the Dart Loop –)>41 on Dunnabridge gauge- just enough for a low water run. The famed classic of the South West, which whilst decent, somehow fell short of it’s veritable reputation. With ledge drops and grade 2/3 twisty channels it was a pleasant enough journey – somewhat short – but supplemented by the popular extension, which doubles the length of the ride. I guess the best thing about the Dart is that it responds well to rain and ‘stays up’.

River 2 – day 4. More rain…..and the mighty Upper Dart. 0.54 on Duunabridge gauge. A supreme river which falls approximately 20m per kilometre over it’s 7km length of virtually unbroken rapids. A significant amount of grade 4 punctuates the constant grade 3 rapids, with the highlight being the ‘Mad Mile’ of granite ledges and slides, grade 4. Curiously (and thankfully), the ‘Mad Mile’ is nowhere near a mile long. Some judicious inspections and a portage. Most of the grade 4 rounded granite boulder fields- required read and run, as their length precluded a detailed inspection. A fraught descent by John and Brian of a stretch of water that Mike thought to be nearer to gd 5! Only a couple of swims by someone who shall remain nameless – otherwise a fairly trouble free passage. A few autoboofs anSo impressed a brilliant river that we deserves to be transported to Cumbria

River 3 – day 5. With the big, slow rivers having responded, but our ‘target’ rivers tantalisingly not quite full enough, we embarked on 21km of Gd 1/2 Tamar. Mainly friendly weirs all. with green tongues through in the upper section, a little more fun white water in the bottom half, and punctuated with a sunny picnic and a long, grassy seal launch back into the flow. A lovely contrast to the intensity of the Upper Dart of yesterday. No swims………well…….until the muddy exit, when Mike ‘fell’ out of his boat into the murky shallows. Unfortunately the cameras were too slow to arrive before he struggled back to his feet like a newly born giraffe, desperately trying to avoid the hungry Serengeti predators.  

I suspect we’ll be back.

Pete Riley

With Ian Mc, Mike H, Linda, John H and Brian.

West Cumbria Riviera

Mid Week Sea Kayak 14 October

Workington to Whitehaven might not quicken the pulse of your average Kayaker, but for the discerning group that gathered at the start of the Coast to Coast (including Mike S, Andy Gillham, Mac and Julian C )a fine day was in store.

First destination was the harbour of Workington, a short way up the Derwent estuary with moorings for sailing yachts and fishing boats in a scene that few would associate with the town

Heading back out down the estuary we passed a fisherman showing off his lobster catch and looked into the modern Port, worryingly empty of any shipping but home to large stockpiles of sawdust and the local RNLI workshops.  Undeterred by the practicing of the Fire Brigade water rescue team we left the estuary mouth and headed south assisted by wind and tide.  In the distance were the red sandstone cliffs of St Bees Head but we had cliffs alongside us of white slag from the former steelworks.  These were surprisingly attractive and we stopped on a beach for our lunch to enjoy the man made scenery


After lunch we continued south into the sun and next Port of call was Harrington, obviously a place of some industry in the past but now apparently just an interesting relic.

Leaving views of the Scottish coast and hills behind and picking up views of the Isle of Man ahead we passed the bay of Parton, the site of the only Roman fort between Maryport and Ravenglass, and carried on into the Georgian Harbour of Whitehaven, now a large Yacht Marina behind dock gates but soon also to be the location of a new watersports facility in the sheltered outer entrance.  Resisting the temptation to harvest fresh oysters living on the harbour walls, we landed on the North Beach for an easy egress to the cars.

Overall an excellent day’s sea kayaking with lots of interest and good company to enjoy.

Arnside Borewave!

18th October Pete A, John S, Sten S and Chris D met at campervan central (Arnside prom.) at 9.20 in the hope of a good Borewave. Still and dry weather made for perfect conditions for the 1.5 hour paddle out into the bay. The main channel has shifted significantly since March, for years it has run quite close to Grange, it now runs further out. 
By 11ish we where opposite Far Arnside and for the first time running out of depth to paddle. Worryingly the channel was very wide , therefore offering little constriction to build the wave height. We only had a wait of a few minutes wait and there was the borewave approaching us. Small but surfable…..great, we got a few minutes and then oh no it turned into an unbroken wave……Arghh. 
But hold on, the borewave has reformed, bigger this time, faster….now it’s good, very good. Long surf, arms aching. Right turn to New Barnes bay, wave smaller now. It disappears then reforms again. Finally and unusually for recent years a good wave surfs us right into Arnside. 
Sten says  “one of the best borewaves “, I agree. 
             Chris D

Improvers – Hitting Lines 2

Date: 10/10/2020 Paddlers: Simon L, Julian, Pete G, Emma

Location: River Lune, from Crook of Lune bridge (Beck foot) to Rawthey confluence Water level: 0.6m

The Lune, was at a perfect level 0.6.  We weren’t the only ones who thought so.  There were about ten people getting on the river around the same time as us.  One brave man in a shiny Royalex Nova Craft canoe (with spray deck).

Despite its grading (2/3) the Lune has some pretty challenging rapids.  A reasonably long stretch, remembering each is a challenge.  We started slowly, inspecting pretty much everything from the bank.  It’s worth it, the Lune offers a plethora of options and eddies.  Hitting the one you intended requires decisiveness.  We entered the main event warmed up and looking for a challenge.

Dropping into the first major rapid, hitting my chosen tricky eddy and feeling rather pleased, I caught the tail breaking out and flipped.  Quicky rolling back up I hoped it had looked intentional!  Signalling the others down, Pete managed one of many impressive rolls of the day.  As we made our way down, entering progressively bigger and trickier rapids, everyone looked comfortable and enjoying the reward of an eddy well earned.

As the river narrows, the waves get bigger.  Julian heading confidently down first, through what was probably the biggest feature so far, managed to tip in with what I can only call a pure, momentary loss of balance.  He found the shallows, uncharacteristically missed his roll, and took a brief bath, quickly swimming to the side.  I was following close behind and managed to hover up his paddle and boat before long and signal the others down.  Julian didn’t look shaken, which was a good job; we had a bigger rapid just ahead.

The start of the gorge below can be easily inspected, but not the bottom rapid. Any swimmer in the first will likely swim the second.  Heading down to setup safety at the bottom, I messed up my line, flipping in the second rapid and bodged two roll attempts.  Gladly up on the third attempt, I signalled the others down, one by one, hoping my failure hadn’t scared them off.  Emma made it look rather easy, with a perfect left line where I had gone wrong.  I was glad of Pete’s bombproof roll as he flipped at the middle.  Julian powered through without issue.  This was the toughest rapid out of the way.

Stopping above John’s stone, remembering the difficulty on inspection and poor view from the bottom, Emma and I set off first.  Surprisingly finding it far easier than remembered.  Ah… this isn’t John’s stone!  Well, it was a good way to run the rapid anyway.  We later found John’s stone and ran it the same way.  Useful having the dry run earlier.  Pete rolled again, Julian bashed his way through in the Machno, but otherwise uneventful.

We were walking the Strid today.  It’s not much loss, there are so many other great rapids to play on, so many lines to pick, so many challenges to set yourself.  Julian hadn’t paddled the bottom section from Killington before.  It’s not exceptional, but worthwhile I would say.  We just portaged the two weirs. They’re not much fun anyway, and easy portages.  More eddy hopping, one final rapid by the confluence, a bit of egress spotting, and we were carrying back up to the cars.

With around five hours on the water, we certainly got the most out of our trip.  Focusing on picking and hitting your line on every rapid is tiring, but everyone, including me, was paddling better at the end than the start.  Deliberately working on your skills is something we seldom do when just having fun.  It was worth the sore shoulders.

Driving back up to get the cars, we came across first, an ambulance, then kayaks propped against the bridge wall, then the water rescue team van.  It didn’t look like training.  We didn’t stop to ask, but not a pleasing sight.  Fingers crossed everyone was OK.


Sea kayak rescue session – A

The Coniston 6 – Do We Really Have to Get in that Cold Water? 

Am I a softie? I’m sure the other 5 in Sue’s Bubble A must also have felt cautious about committing to 4 hours of lake immersion in Autumn. But we turned up to a 12 degree air temperature, a healthy amount of sunshine and surprisingly ‘warm’ water.

What a great session. Sue sharing some of her 5* sea kayak training, and others parting with decades worth of accumulated wisdom. Various towing methods were tried and compared, and of course, lots of immersion and re-entry. And chats about equipment and various other techniques.

A really useful and enjoyable day with plenty of laughs as well as learning. Long live Sten’s inverted thumb technique, Sue’s kitesurfing improvisation and John’s whistle.

Paddlers: Sten and Angela, Pete and Linda, Sue, John H.

Pete Riley