‘Crake and roll’

As the ridiculous water levels in most rivers had dropped off, and Barry wanted to paddle the Crake, so three of us met in sunny Greenodd. Mike had checked Spark Bridge and confirmed that it was medium>high, (0.85), but still possible to get under the footbridge as long as levels didn’t increase. So a quick shuttle to Nibthwaite, and hop onto the river, which was immediately interesting, with plenty of low hanging branches to keep us switched on. At this level, there weren’t many river features, just continuous bouncy wave trains, and the occasional downed tree. Branches caused one swim and one roll, until we paused just above the main event, the Spark Bridge rapid; “Get low, stay hard left” was the plan, but the river fought back, and one paddler swam just after the Bridge. No (serious) harm done, so we finished off the trip carving through the last few twists to the get out.

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Before you Clough you can Borrow

Water levels had subsided a little. After consulting the Farson’s webcam  Borrow Beck had risen to the top of Brian’s hit list. After the long shuttle Brian. Mike and John drag boats to the river. Low by passable. We noted several small landslides form the previous day. The First fence with small gap, saw 2 rolls!  We benefited from a newly snapped fence. So only one  fence portage today.

About the half way the river stipend and is more confined, increasing the challenge and enjoyment. Looping through the lead.  A 0.5m fall into a small stopper push John right onto the side, which topple him in. Good roll, Very good roll, John seem relaxed.  However only 10m downstream the double drop, Grade 5 inspection. might go!!!

Soon below we admire dates flood limit of the previous day some 1m above the current level. Wow.

A nice drop saw us resume the journey.

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below the grade 5

 

More class 3 , continuous now brought us to the cars. Only 12.30.

Soon we were sliding in the Clough at the mid bridge. Straight into the confined of the mini gorge  with its tricky exit drop.

A large oak almost blocked the river.

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The weir and steps at The mill were still a little sticky. As this wasJohn’s first run down the Clough we looked at the final fall an discussed possible lines.  Semi boof into the eddy became the target and achieved with varying decrees of success.

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A fine day out.

Buckets of Water

Loads of rain! loads of water!! river level silly!!!, any thought of an intermediate trip dismissed earlier in the week. A pity really because the introduction/beginner trips can be good fun and people seemed keen.
It was a bit of a drive around, met up Matt by the canal at Junction 26 and then Ian Mc and Chris D in Settle. Looking at the Twin Bridges rapid on the Ribble was not very promising, it would probably go at a pinch but if anyone got in trouble and lets face it, it is usually me who gets in trouble, they would be on their own and on their own for a very long way.

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Next thought was the Wharfe, a river suggested a couple of days ago and dismissed as too long a drive, now it seemed like a good idea. We could look at going down to to Hubberholme to  Kettlewell. Or the very top from Beckermonds down to Hubberholme.

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Leaving a car in Kettlewell we haead off and the river seemed to have disappeared into fields, water everywhere. So driving up beside the top section, we found a team already coming down, that felt comforting, other people had had the same thought. Arriving at the put in it seemed a good idea to leave a car at Hubberholme just in case.
So far quite a lot of organisation or some might call it faff, but it was all worthwhile, wow – what a river.

I had cycled past the river many years ago and looked like a pavement of limestone with lots of ledge drops, for a long time I have wanted to have a go at this river – such a wild location.

When water is added to the bedrock all the drops had places were we really did not want to go into but also lines of weaknesses that could be exploited, making all drops runnable, if a bit of adrenaline was mixed into the occasion as well.

A little intimidating at first and there was a teeny bit of apprehension, but as we progressed down the river confidence increased and we really did have a cracking day.

We finally pulled into Hubberholme late in the day, so hardcore are we, we were too late for coffee and scones. Just as well had left a car at Hubberholme it would have been a long paddle down to Kettlewell especially if we got stuck in a field having lost the river somewhere or other.

Rolling opportunity

Lakeland canoe club are hosting  two pool sessions as part of the KMFF weekend. Learn / improve your roll and support strokes.

When: 4-5p.m. or 5-6 p.m. Saturday 17th November Cost: £12 per 1 hour session.
Included all kit, Boats, paddles, spraydecks, safety cover, coaching.
Max 10 people per session
Restrictions. Ability to swim.16+ , 14+ if accompanied by adult.

Queries to: https://lakelandcanoeclub.wordpress.com/contact-us/ 

 Booking here:

http://www.mountainfest.co.uk/tickets/buy/778547?spektrix_bounce=true

http://www.mountainfest.co.uk/programme/day/category/sessions

Taking the opportunity

I was due to organise a river trip on Friday 28th September but as seems to be the trend at the moment – there was no water in the rivers.
There was however a good high tide but it was quite late in the day, too late to set off from Jubilee Bridge or Roa Island and still get round in daylight.
Ian rang and suggested not wasting such a good day and setting off from Earnse Bay. Sounds like a very good plan.

A long walk with our kayaks down the beach into a gorgeous day with blue sky wall to wall, virtually no wind and just a little swell.

We paddled south chatting away rounding the south end past the lighthouse, only a few seals but lots of Oystercatcher and Gull.

Stopping by the castle we had our first stop for a brew and sat in the sunshine marveling at a bank of blackberries ripening on a sunny bank under the ruined castle. Ian’s very impressive jet boil stove very quickly produced a cup of tea, I had my flask and some apples from the garden.

Down the channel and the scenery changes mood, more populated, more industrious under the bridge and watch the world go by at the slipway and onward through another change in moods of scenery as we leave the Big Shed behind and very quickly slip into the countryside again and another brew and more apples on a beach at the north of the island

Rounding the corner and through thce tide race around the northern tip, paddling into the sun, watching small breaking waves gently breaking across the bow, till finally we reached the beginning of our day and loaded our kayaks back onto the trolleys and made the now short walk back to the cars.
Now I like a coffee and a good scone and I have a confession to make – we headed off to a Costa and enjoyed a window seat with the last of the afternoon’s sunshine.

A letter from Cornwall, or was it Devon

Here we are again, somewhere we had never been before! Well Colonsay was plan A, but with strong winds for most of the week we found ourself at Strensham services on the M5 consulting the SW sea kayaking guide book and Magic seaweed for plan B.

3 hours later we pulled into Britains longest village, Coombe Martin.

Sunday (18km)

Force 4 from SW and 2.0m swell from the West forecast. Our 11.30 start allowed the tide to turn and Coombe Martin soon left behind as we headed East, wind and swell and tide with us. Apparently we did better than Meatloaf as ‘3 out of 3 ain’t bad’ The north Devon Coast is not renowned for its wild camping sites. In fact we found none so it was fortunate that we had opted for the 18km a day trip to Lynmouth. The coast was adorned by very steep wooded slopes, up to 250m, amongst which shockingly fractured vertical crags  maintained the scenic interest.

 Just past Blackstone point we pulled in for lunch to allow the tidal flow to gain full force. Amongst the rocks Phil found no living thing apart from the odd limpet. Soon we passed the Mare and Colt rocks and onto confused water at Highveer Point where overfalls tried to confuse us. Woody Bay proved much calmer protected from wind and offered enticing glimpses of the castle like rock towers in the ‘Valley of the rocks’.

 Lines of surf over the rocky reef at Crock point required  precise timing and and a quick sprint to avoid bongo sliding onto the boulder field, that had been deposited by the the river Lyn in 1952 flood. The trip ended with 2ft surf into a very small pool adjacent to the groyne on the beach. Oops! it was low water so a 300m portage ( using wheels ) to the harbour and a cream tea.

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Monday (26km)

After sorting the shuttle to Minehead, Force 4 from SW and 1.6m swell from the WNW forecast.

Oops It was low water again! so a 300m portage (using wheels) to the pool by the groyne.

Another 11.30 start. Foreland point, 3km, was soon reached, with 2kts of tide running agains us. Paddling furiously made no progress, whilst 10m towards the cliffs, but parallel, Mike sat still in the eddy. We sneaked up under the cliffs, just outside the  break line. Two moored fishing boat confirmed the tidal flow was against. Another early lunch until the two boats swung around. The cliffs of a similar nature, but all the more impressive for the sun. A seal poked his nose at our presence. Even 2 gulls and a cormorant were spotted. Still no wild camping sites.

Across Porlock bay, the NW1.4m swell increased and winds blew us into some most irregular overfalls off Hurlstone point and some anxious moments. 

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Now wind, swell and tide directly behind, saw us make 4knots to Greenaleigh point, and a short break on a remote beach. 

Finally Minehead appeared, but the tide was out again! We declined a muddy wade in favour of a surf onto the steep boulder shingle below the lifeboat station. 

Tuesday 

Always forecast as a poor day, Force 6 and rain forecast so plan B part 2 was invoked. Drive to The Lizard. We took our time, on arrival we dropped off a car in Mousehole, a brisk hike to Lizard point. Strong winds, sea mist and the general gloom didn’t make for a pretty picture, with lots of sharp rocks and skerries being lashed by black seas and grey foam at least 500m out. However, after a pint or two in The Witches’ Ball, we felt more confident and went to bed happy.

Wednesday ( 20km)

We awoke to an  was eerily still morning, with the wind swinging round to the North and dropping. We launched from Coverack onto a calm sea, but remembered the stories of round Britain kayakers having boats destroyed. In the event rounding Lizard point, England’s most southerly point was very straightforward; we negotiated the reefs just after slack water, with the cliffs shielding us from the wind. 

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From there, it was a gentle paddle up the coast to Kynance for a brew and a sandwich. Then back in the boats to Mullion Cove for yet more scones and cream tea. Mike tried to make conversation with the cafe owner; “ Ten POUNDS!…for a crab SANDWICH?”Which didn’t go well, so we jumped back in the boats and headed for Church Cove and our only wild camp of the trip.\

Thursday. ( 27km)

In theory, this  was supposed to be the easy day, but it didn’t feel like it; cold but sunny first thing, we packed up and raced round the scenic bits of cliff and the beaches at Praa Sands, stopping at Porthleven for elevenses. Not much tidal assistance, but nice paddling past isolated beaches and Poldark’s mining towers.  As we rounded the corner into Mounts Bay, so pretty, we encountered a consistent headwind all the way to St Michaels Mount.

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Then beyond another 3km into the headwind to Penzance and Newlyn. Only travelling at 4km per hour made along day. After that we enjoyed a gentle couple of km down the coast and into Mousehole harbour. A long 27km day, and then another couple of hours doing the shuttle.

Friday. ( 20km)

A lot of planning and thoughts go into a Land’s End trip.

We needed to start from Sennen as the wind would be behind us. However the flow inshore was running in the opposite direction to the offshore current, it gave us a 3 hour window to round Land’s End

Driving down to the village of Sennen all looked OK but then again, it was from a distance. Getting changed in the car park there was a little tension in the air as 7ft waves crashed over the rocks in the bay. The local fishermen questioned our thoughts. Is this sensible? We made plan, so, yeah- of course. Have you got that flare? Put it in – Hmmm. The first few strokes around the breakwater always feel the worst, but after a few waves crashed into the boat the 5 foot waves all seemed to flow under us nicely and become soon the ups and down motion seemed almost “normal”. We paddled south and soon, very soon, Lands End approached. 

Inside or outside the skerry, we decided to outside and headed out away from the cliffs until it looked feasible. 

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The ebbing tide forced our choice, thorough the race we went, fortunately only 150m of overfall chaos; again the first few paddle strokes got us settled, until that “normal” feeling retuned. Having passed the  waves gradually settled although still could not relax fully. ‘What are you doing up there’ was a thought that invade the mind as the bottom of each other boats were frequently seen. Got to watch where the waves were coming from, none seemed to be breaking, though the wind produced white tops.

The next headland was Gwennap Head which as Mike pointed out, rather controversially, really was the true Land’s End but without the crowds. More confusion and overfalls. Soon we reach dates more sheltered cove at Portgwarra, where  when exchanging high5’s Phil inform us, that was the most exciting thing he had done this year- and the most scary. Now with following wind, the headland with the Minnack outdoor theatre near Porthcurno slid by and Logan rock increased the swell. 

Just before Tater-Du lighthouse a a heavy shower delivered force 5 to increases wave height but aided our progress. At last were round, feeling good. At Lamorna we took break and found a crab sandwich for £12. We paddled up to Mousehole relaxing in the sunshine, to be entertained by a seal who seemed intent on investigating us in his own  leisurely way.

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A yes the obligatory cream tea never far away.

Saturday ( 7km)

It was not a nice thought traveling home and the thought of sitting in a traffic jam was very unappealing. Hatched a plan to paddle in the morning and head home in the afternoon. Thanks to Phil for sorting out our shuttle before he headed home. We found a nice starting point in a small bay just south of Godrevy point. Straight off the beach into the sun and around an island with a pretty lighthouse, on Godrevy islands. Unable to split the isles due to an excess of breaking waves, we rounded them instead. With the west wind behind us traveling from Naval Point at the North end of St Ives Bay to Portreath. Along the once more continuous 70m, impressive cliffs and coast line. Rockhopping, well not really rockhopping more like skerry/island hopping, but still full of atmosphere as we weaved are way along the coastline. Inside Crane Islands required precise timing in the tricky swell. Samphire islands emphasised the two sweets, one from West one form NW. 

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Passing Gull rock was interesting and lead us to the harbour, a really strange affair, at first the entrance could not be seen and then the was bordered by a rock wall and a long corridor into the main harbour, a waiting car and yet another convenient scone shop.

 

Unsung gem or tree-infested ditch?

Lots of overnight rain meant most rivers were too full for comfort, but some smaller spate runs were looking good, so four of us paddled the Leith; Cumbria’s least well-known Grade 3. Phil, Brian,Mike H And guest Peter.

Stuart Miller’s guide gives zero stars, and emphasises the number of sheep fences which require portage, but Mike had run the river in February and said the fences were gone or had gaps, but we still took a cautious approach. As it turned out, the fences weren’t an issue, but there were several river wide trees which needed a portage, and a lot of low hanging branches to sweep over, under or around, and lots of small footbridges which we had to duck under. But the paddling was good, with continuous interest,  some lovely drops and slides, and the weather stayed kind, with sun and gentle breezes. No crab sandwiches for lunch, but cakes and coffee at the local garden centre, which was a bit upmarket for us; “£7000 for a PELICAN!”