30 November 2007

Back down to the river

Went paddling again today. It seems that I work on a Tuesday and a Thursday and then the rest of my week is filled up with paddling activities. Not a bad life but it takes a bit out of you and maybe that is why today's activities were not as high octane as two days back. Quite frankly though I wasn't bothered: I just like to be out paddling. Yes I do prefer the harder rivers, but if that was the only thing I got out of bed for I wouldn't be doing much paddling as they aren't in condition that often. Today we headed to the Wenning, one of the tributaries of the Lune, which flows through Bentham, Wennington and many other villages that have that League of Gentleman feel.

A self portrait near the beginning of the trip with the rest of the group in the background.

Running one of the small drops on the river. The river is characterised by shingle rapids and this was one of the few times the river dropped over something more solid.

The smaller weir, which you run with the intention to land on one of the concrete spurs, which are on either side of the paddler.

The main event on the Wenning, looked at from above...

...and looked at from below. The next paddler down took a swim here, which isn't ideal as there is a tree across the river. It can be paddled over as the current does flow over it in places, but it's not the best place to be swimming. Luckily the swimmer managed to regain control before they came to the tree so they just climbed over it. Unfortunately the boat got pinned underneath it and it took a small while to recover.

At the end of the trip is a fairly sticky hole which can be side surfed, but it is a fight to get out of.

Another great day on the water, but my body is starting to take the toll now. I am planning to get out tomorrow on the Upper Rawthey if we can muster a crew, but I'll only be going if it is definitely a goer. Paddling on Sunday as well, well not paddling, but more shepherding people down the Rothay over in Ambleside. There will be posts for any water related activities mind so check back to see what goes down.

More pictures can be found here.

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

29 November 2007

A Personal Record

Today I was working a shift at the local corner shop, but yesterday I went paddling and boy did we paddle. In the past I have clocked two rivers in a day. In fact I have done it on a fair few occasions, but never have I managed more than that. Well that was until yesterday where we managed three rivers all in one paddling day and it may have been the best day I have had on the water. Here is the recipe for having the perfect day of paddling:
  • Get picked up at 8:15am and head north to Burton-in-Kendal services to meet another paddler at 9:30am.
  • Drive to look at the Kent and decided it may be on the high side of good considering there is a tree down in the main gorge.
  • Ring a few contacts trying to find out the level for the Greta in Keswick. Give that up as a lost cause and head to the Lower Rawthey expecting it to be a bit of a scrape.
  • Pull up at the take-out for the Lower Rawthey to see the river flowing brown. It is going to be good so kit up, run shuttle and get on the river.
Running the first weir, which is just around the corner from where you put-on the river.
  • Paddle the river catching countless eddies, waves and stoppers to make this low end grade three trip even more interesting than it already is.
  • Enjoy the fact that you aren't removing pieces of plastic from your boat as the water level is spot on.
  • Carry on down the river enjoying life.
Paddling one of the many rapids on the Lower Rawthey.
  • Get three-quarters of the way down the river to find a tributary, the Dee, flowing rather high. Perhaps it can be paddled?
  • Get out of the boats and walk up through Sedburgh Golf Club as far as you can continuously inspecting the rain fed ditch.
Walking up the side of the Dee.

The main event on the section of Dee we paddled. Higher up there is plenty of Grade 5 mank according to the good old Lake District oracle.
  • Get on the Dee and head on downstream catching eddies as you go.
  • Catch the eddy half way down the main event and turn to spot the next eddy as the paddler behind tries on running straight through resulting in a swim.
  • Start chase boating.
  • Once calm is restored realise you still haven't recovered the paddles so start a thorough inspection of the river with out much look.
  • Pull out your trusty home made Riot Freeride splits and head off to finish the Lower Rawthey.
Team Running the main event on the Lower Rawthey. There is a 'must make' ferry just below, and out of shot, of where I am.

Looking back up at the main event with all the group back on the water.
  • Head on downstream keeping an eye out for the lost paddles (white Lendal Mania's) still enjoying life but feeling slightly guilty about losing a mates paddles.
  • Come across a rather juicy play wave so have a bit of a soul surf.
  • Reach the take-out and head for the cars then wait as the other car is retrieved.
  • Hatch new plans with one of the paddlers for the third river of the day whilst the other thinks of heading for home, once our shuttle is sorted, to tell all of the lost paddles.
  • Drive up to the put-in for the Clough and get ready to make your descent.
  • Head off downstream, enjoying life, reading and running the river from the boat.
One of the many rapids on the Clough.
  • Enter the main gorge of the Clough without inspection and take a hammering against the gorge wall because you ran a drop at the wrong place. Roll back up a bit unnerved at the fact there are only two of you on the river and it's pushing grade four.
  • Carry on reading and running the river.
  • Eventually decide an inspection might be a good idea as there is a tree down just above the main event of the gorge.
  • Decide it will still go as long as you tuck up as you go through the tree.
  • Set up a one man rescue team whilst the other paddler makes a sweet line and then swap.
The main event on the Clough. This hole is incredibly sticky and can be run at either end depending on levels. Yesterday it went right.
  • Carry on downstream safe in the knowledge the river only gets easier from this point forward.
  • Enjoy life a bit more.
  • Pull up at the last drop and make the final eddy before bombing off the drop.
  • Start to go over, low brace and get turned back into the drop, back paddle like it's going out of fashion and wait for your mate to appear.
The last drop on the Clough just before it reaches the Rawthey.
  • Paddle to the take-out, get changed and head for home.
  • Go to the pub to see your other paddling mates and tell them tales of your paddling adventures making them jealous as they had to go to work.
  • Look forward to the weekend as there is still a lot of water up in the Lune valley.
  • Cook for four hours on Gas Mark 4.
More images can be found here.

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

26 November 2007

Back on Track

A raft on the Tryweryn when I was there on my Five Star Training.

My Gap Year stalled a couple of weeks ago when I came back from Scotland where I had been working for PGL. It stalled for one main reason really and that was my financial situation. I just didn't have enough money to implement the plans I had for this three month break. I had enough money to get out to New Zealand and insure all the travelling, but i just didn't have enough money to live off whilst I was out there. The other major problem would have been the fact that i wouldn't have been able to drive whilst I was out there as their age limit is 21 and I'm only 19 :-(

Now I think I have it sorted. I've found a £5.52/hour job just round the corner from where I live where I work 15 hours over two days. This then gives me plenty of free time and once I've got my transport situation sorted I can spend four days a week away paddling wherever the water is so that could be Scotland, the Lakes, Wales or Devon.

As for the picture at the top of the post: does it have much relevance? Yes. I got my contracts through from PGL Recruitment on Saturday for next year and it is exactly what I wanted. On the 13th February I will be heading north once again to work at Dalguise as an Activity Instructor/Group Leader, like I was doing only a couple of weeks ago. Whilst there I should get my ropes qualifications so once again I am adding to my instructor portfolio, which has been happening ever since I started PGL. My contract at Dalguise finishes at the end of April, but there is nothing to worry about, as the very next day my new contract starts at Embrun. That's right I am eventually getting to work at the centre I wanted to work at ever since the first day with PGL. Here I will be a multi-activity instructor, which means anything I have qualifications in I'll instruct in. Therefore I'll be working on sailing, kayaking, ropes (if I get the qualification) and rafting sessions. Before anyone mentions that I don't have my rafting qualification you are correct, however between finishing at Dalguise and starting at Embrun I am booked on, courtesy of PGL, a BCU Level 1 Raft Guide Training Course at Canolfan Tryweryn, hence the picture.

It's all looking good again.

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

25 November 2007

More paddling stories

Went paddling again today. This was my first trip with the canoe club I've been a member of for the past four years and it started like most club trips: disorganised chaos in some random car park. The random car park today was the car park belonging to the services at Burton-in-Kendal on the M6. There was a fair few paddlers, about 22 in total, of varying ability so the trip was split in two. One group went and ran the Crake, which flows out the bottom of Coniston Water and the other group, the group I was a part of, went to the Upper Lune. The only problem was my transport was heading to the Crake so after a bit of boat swapping I was on my way to the river with no idea how I would make my way back to Preston.

I've paddled the Upper Lune a fair few times now and I think if you go back to entries I made in February there will be a bit of waffling from me about the river ant the lines that were taken and such things. Nothing really amazing happened on the river. I made eddies, I surfed waves and ran gorge sections. We had two swimmers at the crux of the river, which was dealt with swiftly and without problem.

Getting home proved easily enough. I managed to get a lift back to a services, Lancaster Forton this time, where we had to wait a fair while before my connecting vehicle to Preston arrived back from the Crake with stories of swims on Bobbin Mill Rapid. I'll just leave you with some pictures from the day.

Getting on the river.

Making a break out in one of the mini-gorge sections.

Surfing a wave on the river.

Paddling down the river after one of the gorge sections.

Letterbox Rapid.

The Strid, the crux on the river.

The group at the end of the river.

More pictures can be found here.

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

21 November 2007

Down to the River

Today I went for a paddle. It was the first time I had paddled a river that needed some sort of thought and technique to see me safely through the rapids. The river was the Kent, a nice grade 3, maybe 4 in higher water, run in the south Lake District. It was nice to get back on the river after such a long time away from those types of rivers and the day was made even better just because of the company I kept whilst paddling. I was paddling with probably the person I enjoy paddling with the most. We've paddled a fair few rivers together and spent a lot of time travelling to the rivers in the area so we know each other really well. I hadn't seen them for a good while, probably before I went out to France, so it was a day's paddling made even better because of all the catching up we had to do.

Sat waiting for the shuttle to be sorted.

However, because there was just the two of us, and I still don't have a vehicle even though I passed my test back in June, there was a bit of waiting before we hit the water. Once we had kitted up, the van was dispatched to the take out whilst I waited and waited and waited a bit more for the driver to walk back up to the put in. They did try hitching a lift, but no one was interested in taking a strangely dressed man for a road trip. Shame.

The river was at a good level and we both caught eddies and surfed waves in the opening stretches of the river where it flowed through rolling Lake District fields. When the banks started to get a bit higher and we entered the gorges we carried on what we were doing regardless of what could be a few metres behind us. That's what I like about paddling with this person: no matter what is downstream if there is a wave or eddy to be caught it will be caught before moving onto the main event of a rapid. It's just good, sound paddling that I just can't get enough of.

Entering the first gorge underneath Prizet Bridge.

The Kent is split into three sections of gorge and the main gorge, the second one, has the most interest. There are four steps running through the gorge. Each one requiring a certain line to be taken to ensure a dry line and in between there is stuff to play on. On entering the gorge we saw that a tree was down and after assessing the situation it was decided it would go and it did. However, the tree was right in the middle of the perfect line, which meant we had to boof the hole instead of skirt around the edge of it. This went well, apart from me denting Roger, but in higher water the tree could pose more of a problem.

Entering the second gorge.

Running the small steps after the main attraction. Notice the tree to the left of the picture.

Playing in the second gorge.

The last gorge of the Kent is always interesting. It has everything a sloping ramp into an inescapable gorge, an l-shaped drop which you boof off and then right at the bottom as it starts opening up again a four meter drop into a really nice pool where you take out and head for the car.

The entry into the final gorge.

The exit to the last gorge and the pool where you take out at.

Once off the river we filled our stomachs, took off most of our wet gear and headed for another river. However, as there wasn't the greatest amount of water in the area we started heading for home and called in at the rapids at Halton for a quick blast down. It was fun. It was a good level - the level I enjoy paddling the rapids at and a good way to bring an amazing day to an end.

More pictures can be found here.

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

12 November 2007

Give me your money...

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

10 November 2007

My Winter Season

It's just been over a week since I arrived home from my second contract with PGL Adventure and I think I've eventually sorted out everything that has piled up since I've been away in Scotland for just over six weeks. This means I can sit down and write a proper post, with lots of pictures, about my time in Scotland and what lies ahead for me in the third stage of my Gap Year.

Scotland was amazing. It was as good, maybe even better than the summer I spent in France. Why was this? On my day's off I actually got out and did something. I think it was only the last few days off on centre I actually stayed on site and did nothing and this was because my paddling and climbing kit had been sent home to Preston the weekend before. Usually on a day off I could get my washing sorted and then disappear off to the river or crag or climbing wall for a day with some of the other staff members. One day we even managed a surfing trip. This is what, I feel, made my time up in Dalguise so much more enjoyable to Tamaris. Don't get me wrong Tamaris was amazing and it changed me so much as an individual. Well I had to change - it was the first time I had been abroad, the first time I had lived away from home and the first time I had, had a proper job. This may have been why it took so long for me to settle at Tamaris. At Dalguise however I settled in days just because I was use to the PGL lifestyle and I had people to talk to about climbing and kayaking who were as passionate as me about the sports.

In Scotland I wasn't employed solely as a kayaking instructor, which made my working days a lot more varied to France as I could be instructing a maximum of four different sessions in a day and that was only a quarter of what I was allowed to do. This meant your working weeks were so much more enjoyable because it just wasn't the same session again and again. If you were unlucky you may end up instructing the same session three or four times in a week which wasn't that bad as there were twenty-four sessions to a working week so still there was some variation to keep you content.

What next? I'm at home for a while. A while being as long as it takes me to plan my third stage of my Gap Year, which could be a while as I've not really started. I have looked into flights to New Zealand and sent the odd message to forums asking about travelling with a kayak to New Zealand, but that is as far as I've gone as I've been slightly put off by the cost of flights. I'm sure I'll get out there sometime this year for a couple of months at the most. If I leave for the beginning of December I could be back by the end of January and then a quick phone call could put me back in Scotland for the start of PGL's season. It'll then be a count down to the summer where I could be back out in France. This is dependent on the contract though as I have to take a pay cut if I want to work in France and I'm only willing to do this if I get sent to Embrun where on my days off I can paddle and climb like I did at Dalguise. If I don't get the Embrun contract I'm staying in Scotland where I can paddle and climb through the summer until the University term begins. That's going to be an interesting internal debate? Do I go; don't I.

Enjoy the pictures,
Iain x

Waiting in Shrewsbury for my lift to Boreatton Park, where my training course was.

Climbing at Craigy-a-Barns on a day off.

The local bar where some of our nights were spent.

Alistair at St Andrews before our surfing trip.

The skateboard and longboard propped up against the bench during a night of skating fun.

Messing around on the Raft Build pond after work and before tea.

Another day off climbing. This time indoors and it was my birthday.

My birthday night: Go-Karting and Bowling in Perth.

Getting ready for the river on another day off.

The Braan. Five minutes away from centre and was never paddled whilst I was there.

Hugging the Dagger Agent at the Scottish Paddleshow. Don't tell EJ!

Halloween night at Dalguise.

Leaving the main house on my last night on centre.

Leaving Newcastle and heading for Preston on the Friday I arrived home.

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