07 September 2006

Whittling away the summer

Well, the summer holidays are coming to an end and the last couple of weeks have got a bit boring. So today, the afternoon looked promising and after a quick glance at the tide tables on the BBC I was off down to the tidal section of the Ribble to pass the afternoon. It was only a short walk through the terraced streets of Lower Penwortham and I was on the Ribble Way, a busy footpath which runs parallel with the river and takes you down to Walton Summit or over the river into Avenham Park and then on into Preston. Anyway I headed down the footpath for a while then heading off road, across the grass, and down through the shrubbery at the side of the river. I chucked my boat down, got in it, ratcheted the backrest up, pumped the footbag up, popper my deck over the cockpit combing and pushed off. I slid down the muddy bank, through a bush and landed in the river with a splash. A walker on the Preston side of the river turned and looking, then carried on walking with a bemused expression.

The tidal section of the Ribble isn't anything spectacular. It's just a mass of fairly fast moving flatwater, which does lead down to some tidals rapids under Penwortham Footbridge. The rapids aren't up to Falls of Lora or The Bitches standard, but it's my local spot and it gives me something to paddle when I'm bored. I didn't just get on the river to paddle the rapids under the footbridge, and if I did I couldn't have used them just yet as the tide hadn't dropped sufficiently for them to start forming so I just messed around on the flat trying to cartwheel and bow or stern stall.

As you can see in the picture above I did get the boat vertical, to a degree. In fact I got it vertical countless times. I didn't stick any bow or stern stalls long enough to read a book or anything, in fact I don't think you could have classed any of my stalls as a stall as I usually stalled the boat in a cartwheel and went straight over before managing to get the boat balanced. However, my cartwheels are coming on, I got a number of three-ended cartwheels and that is using both a double-pump and a reverse double-pump.

No matter what people say solo-boating on flatwater isn't the greatest fun [I could see a nice solo-boating session down a grade three river would be good as it would feel that bit harder as there is not that safety net if the s#~& hits the fan] so I got out of my boat a couple of times. Once was on the island which has formed in the eddy of the Train Bridge and whilst on this island I found hundreds, well maybe not that many, skimming pebbles. A couple of these stones skimmed so well I couldn't count the bounces. Arrrgh... what is it about being on a pebble beach and having to skim them flat stones? No matter what age, you just have to pick up a stone and try to skim it. I also got out on the Penwortham side of the river to have a chat with my photographer, my mum!!! After a quick chat I got back on the water and headed downstream to the rapids under the footbridge, which were now forming as the tide had dropped sufficiently.

I must have planned this session just right as the rapids were the sweatest I have ever seen them. The river was just high enough to have some decent depth, but it wasn't too high to wash them out. Anyway, I found two decent sized features for a play. One was on the upstream side of the footbridge. It looked nice, but it just wasn't on, however the second feature, below the footbridge was just sick. Ok. It wasn't that great, but it held a boat and I could spin in it.

Once I had exhausted the 'sick' play feature I moved on down the rapids to the little stream which flows into the Ribble, popped my deck, waded up the stream and hiked my boat up the muddy hill back onto Leyland Road. As I shouldered my boat and headed off for home the school bus for Priory Sports and Technology College, my old school, passed me and I could see the pupils turning their heads to see if that person they passed, me, was really carrying a blue lump of plastic. That'll be me next week. Not the guy looking out of a school bus window wondering whether the person we just passed was really carrying a blue lump of plastic, but the guy sat on the school (actually it'll be college) bus on the way home from a day of studies. Can't wait!!!

More pictures can be found here and a video of the 'sick' play feature can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

1 comment:

Dogs Dad said...

Nice blog. Roll on summer again.