04 March 2007

I'm back

I made a quick post today before going out paddling and now here is a post about all of the adventures. Two posts in one day, you don't know you've been born.

The plans had been made by the club chairman that we would be meeting at the Waterhead Car Park at half-ten and we did though a detour was made to begin with. This detour was to pick up one of the club members and kit for them from the canoe club's container at the Hand and Dagger pub, near Salwick. Whilst we were there we also picked a boat up for myself. Why not the All-Star? Why not the Rocker? To answer the latter: the Rocker left America on the 23rd February and won't be here until a week before I leave for Scotland at Easter. To answer the former: I had promised someone a ride in the Eskimo Topolino Duo and this was the boat I pulled out of the canoe club's container.

We arrived with a few minutes to spare to be greeted by the sight of about a dozen cars loaded with one, two, three or even four boats. It was going to be a big trip. Once parked out we jumped and things were organised before clothes were changed and boats changed cars and headed off to the get-in, which is on the shores of Grasmere. To get from the road, the A591, to water level a eight foot wall has to be descended and the kit has to be passed over and down this wall. Did I forget to mention that whilst this is all going on one of the busier roads in the Lake District is behind you and cars are honking horns as you park half on the pavement, half on the road whilst things are unloaded?

Some of the group on the shores of Grasmere, with the boats at their feet.

Once on the lake the group headed off into the wind to the mouth of the Rothay. The boats, which belonged to the drivers were towed behind some of the paddlers and were eventually deposited just before you drop into the river. Here the drivers took the boats off the tugs after leaving their cars in the National Trust Car Park between Rydal Water and Grasmere. This is where I picked my front seat passenger up and off we headed down the river once the large group had split into four.

The Rothay can be characterised as a grade two bumble in some of the finest Lake District surroundings. The rapids, of which there are little, tend to be rocky, shallow and short. Today was no exception though there may have to be an exaggeration on rocky, as it may have been said that the river was a tad on the low side of good. In the first section of the river I eased my front seat passenger in with a bit of breaking in and out and the odd ferry glide and then we hit Rydal Water. The wind had whipped up into a bit of a manic frenzy and there could have also been some rain, or maybe spray from the waves. I don't really known, but it was wet and windy. Whilst crossing Rydal Water the group stopped briefly for dinner before heading on down the lake and into the next section of the Rothay.

Once you join the river again, almost immediately you come across Pelter Bridge rapids, which has had some bad press within the canoeing fraternity this week. Unfortunately, with the Topolino Duo being so long we came under some difficult whilst descending the rocky rapid. The boat got turned sideways from a glancing blow with a rock. It wedged on some more rocks with the downstream edge raised. It could have been a catastrophe, but luckily we managed to stabilise the boat and out I jumped to move it off the rocks, jumped back in and got down the remaining section of the rapids to watch some other paddlers scrape and bash their way down whilst I also got some pictures.

Pelter Bridge rapid, my front seat passenger is the blue helmet right of shot.

The river, once this rapid has been descended, flattens off with a stout current and plenty of eddy's to break in and out of. The majority of these were tiny and so, with a bit of work, we got the Topolino Duo breaking out of them fairly well. After a while this section is broken up with some stepping stones. None are really wide enough to fit a boat through easily unless the passenger tips it extremely far on edge with the Topolino Duo this may not have been wise so we portaged. It must have been the first ever portage made on the Rothay.

Our chairman negotiating the stepping stones.

The river once again takes on the same nature as before and as you start getting into the busy metropolis that is Ambleside the banks become canalised and on several occasions water is added to the river. Sometimes it is through Scandale Beck or Stock Ghyll converging with the Rothay or one of many road drains topping the level up.

The front seat passenger's husband having a shower in one of the road drains.

One of the best features on the Rothay is the wave found right at the end known by some as the Hotel Weir, by others I'm not sure, but there is probably a different name for it somewhere. Maybe we should start calling it something else like Bus Eater or Nile Special or Corned-Beaf-sur-Rothay?

Dropping through the wave formed by the weir.

The group sat in the surfers left eddy at the weir.

A paddler nearly going over on the wave.

Surfing the wave.

Another paddler surfing the wave. To get this shot I was sat in the river (it was that low) about two meters away from the bank and the same distance from the lip of the weir.

Once enough time had been wasted at the Hotel Weir we headed on downstream where a Force 3/4 gale had now developed on Windermere, which you have to traverse to get to the car park where your nice warm, dry clothes await.

Getting out at the end of the day.

More pictures and a video can be found here.

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

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