24 October 2006

A mid-week Paddle

Well I haven't been out on a proper river run for a long time, so last night I made plans with my Dad to run the Rothay the following day seen as we were both on holiday. We tried a couple of people to see if they were up for the paddle but there was little interest. So Tuesday saw three of us, my parents and myself, heading north to the Lake District and Ambleside.

We pulled into the car park at Waterhead with blue skies overhead and a crisp morning air gently blowing. It was going to be a nice day. Canoeing gear was pulled out of the car and put on before we left the car park and headed through Ambleside, and along the edges of Rydal Water and Grasmere. The trip began on a small beach on the shores of Grasmere. To reach the beach involves lowering the boats over a very high wall straight from the roadside. When we usually do this trip we get a couple of car horns tooted at us, but there was nothing of the sort today, there was just another group getting on the water.

We got on the water and mucked around for a while to let the other group get ahead of us. This for me meant cartwheel practice and if I remember correctly some of them were quite good. Anyway, we soon headed off down Grasmere to the start of the Rothay. When we eventually hit the river I was a little disappointed; with all the recent rain I was expecting a fairly nice level, but this must have been the lowest I had ever paddled it. Anyway, in true British spirit I gritted my teeth and headed on downstream. The Rothay trip is split into two parts, from Grasmere to Rydal Water and then from Rydal Water to Lake Windermere. The first part of the trip was over pretty quickly; we passed the group that had got on before us and we quickly got ahead of them by a long way. The paddle over Rydal Water took a fairly long time with me in a play boat, but such a large expanse of flat, deep water meant I could get some cartwheeling practice in.

We soon hit the second section of the Rothay, and still it was fairly low even though another lake had provided some extra water. At the beginning of this section is the hardest rapid on the river. It's basically a quick drop in gradient with alot of boulders shoved in to boot. It wasn't anything technical, I made one break out just after the start of the rapid and then bimbled on down the rest making one last breakout before ferrying across the river to a nice looking playhole.

The play hole, I thought, had so much potential that I actually made the effort to blow my Happy Thruster up a bit more and see if it could be used. The hole wasn't deep enough really to use my Happy Thruster effectively, but I got a couple of spins in before heading off downstream.

The river eased off now and I think we spent most of the time just floating along in the current, letting the river take us along. We had to put the odd paddle stroke in to negotiate the trees but it was all easy stuff.

One good thing about the Rothay is that very near the end there is quite a nice surf wave, and depending on levels depends on how good it is. As it happens we must have cought it at a good level, even though the river was a bit low. The wave was forming nicely with a shoulder on the left which could be used for agressive cut backs across the face. This was the only thing that could really be done on the wave as it wasn't quite steep enought to do spins and stay on it. However the eddylines and current around the wave were good for stern squirts and the odd pop out. All good stuff really that added to the day.

Once finished at the wave it was just a case of carrying on downstream and onto Lake Windermere and back to the car park where we had got changed at the beginning of the day. On the way back across the lake I did the odd cartwheel and splitwheel until I got so knackered I was having trouble rolling, well I wasn't really, but I could see something going wrong eventually, so I got off the water, got changed and headed to the climbing shops in Ambleside to see what could be purchased.

Once finished in Ambleside it was back home, via the Brathay Pool, where an activity group were playing around, and then onto the M6 where a nice tailback was forming because of an accident. This meant that a journey that usually takes one-and-a-bit-hours took two-and-a-bit-hours so I suppose this put a bit of a downer on the day. Oh well; the only way is up.

More pictures can be found here.

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

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