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...

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