Tuesday 27th December 2021
Whatever Father Christmas might have brought us this year, water wasn’t on his list. So it was that 9 of us assembled at Newby Bridge, the Leven at 0.8 being our only sensible option.
Whilst he didn’t bring water he had been kind in other areas and a range of Christmas goodies were on display as we warmed up – not least MarkM’s swanky new Dagger Code in black complete with custom paint job, JohnH’s million dollar helmet, Kate’s “not been wet yet” paddles, neoprene gloves various and a pair of Hogwarts socks whose owner wished to remain anonymous!
Mike said in his blurb for the trip that the river would be chosen to suit all members of the group. Something easy then I thought, but it was more about something with water in will have to do!
We; that’s MikeH, JohnH, MarkM, MarkG, Simon, PaulS, Julian, Kate and Eric, launched carefully to avoid any disturbance to the fish spawning beds and slid easily over the Brick Chute weir where Mark was keen to test out his new steed’s capabilities. – Looked pretty good to me!
At Mill Force Kate got flipped by the chunky wave but executed a perfect “first combat roll”; some took the opportunity for a bit of a play whilst others thought discretion the better part of valour at this early stage of the trip.
The Graveyard didn’t cause any upsets as most of the rocks were visible – not always avoidable, but at least visible. On through the rapids and the approach to Backbarrow Bridge.
To some of our number it was business as usual and, with not too much water, probably not too tricky – to others it was somewhat scary standing on the bridge looking down, especially at the very large looking rock in the middle. MarkM and Simon demonstrated two different lines as they cruised through to set up safety cameras, or should that be safety and cameras. After some deliberation we all decided to have a go despite the pressure of a group of hotel guests and another kayak group joining us on the bridge. You wonder when people go watching motor racing is it for the racing or the crashes!
Back on the water with the wisdom being keep far right we filed through, Paul followed the line perfectly, Julian caught the rock but a smooth roll brought a cheer from the gallery, John showed Eric the line but Eric obviously wasn’t watching as he had a bit of a brush with the big rock. MarkG followed Eric’s line, never a good idea. Kate slid through on the line and Mike made it look like flat water!
A quick inspection of the weir below the portage and we all sorted our attack angles out and ploughed through without drama
Big grins on the Fish Steps weir slide but we were definitely scraping along the bottom as we approached the fallen tree before Fishermans’s Island. The effects of one too many Christmas puds caused almost terminal grounding for one of our number – thanks Paul for the rescue.
The grins continued as everyone shot safely through the chute – the perfect finish to a great days paddling. Thanks to Mike for everything and to all the “above improvers” for their help and patience on this “improvers and above” trip.
A café finish with large portions of cake to boot!