30 December 2007

Two Paddlers, One Car, One River and One Friendly Gentleman

After yesterday's paddling exploits on rain fueled rivers I was looking to get out again. I made a phone call to a chap who had expressed an interest in paddling, a couple of days earlier, on Sunday and plans were made. We talked about running the Swale's Keld Gorge and by the end of the night we were meeting some other paddlers with the idea of running the Clough and the Rawthey. Anyway I was picked up at 8:30am like planned and the plan had changed again. Maybe it would be the Duddon, maybe it would be the Leven, who knew? The two of us made the decision to risk it all and head east anyway, away from a chance of a shuttle, and take a look at the Swale in the hope of paddling on down it. It didn't look promising as we headed over the fells. There wasn't that much water in the rivers, but on pulling up at Wainwath Force it was all good. The water was flowing over most of the rock shelf and that, according to the Lake District oracle, was "a good middle level." We kitted up and got down to business.

Dropping down Wainwath Force.

Getting back ended on Wainwath Force.

There were only two of us on the river. I know it doesn't follow the 'less than three; there should never be rule' but if it's the only way your going to get a chance of paddling I'd take that chance any day. Running the series of drops which make up the Keld Gorge section of the Swale was pretty formulaic. We would pull up at the lip, look at each other, decide a bank inspection would be best, pop out of our boats, scout out the line, decide who would run it first, sort out the camera, take pictures of the first paddler's descent and then maybe set the camera up for the second paddlers descent before moving on downstream to repeat the process.

Sat at the bottom of Rainby Force after a successful descent.

On the top drop of Catrake Force.

On the second drop of Catrake Force.

Landing on the ledge on Upper Kisdon Force ready to boof away from the drop.

Paddling through the curtain on Upper Kisdon Force.

Free falling after boofing off the ledge on Lower Kisdon Force.

The gorge was over and now we had to find the get out and try and get back up to the car, at the top of the river, by Wainwath Force. That was harder than would be expected as neither of us had really paid much attention to that small point in the Guidebook so we were unsure where the take out was. We headed off downstream on the basis that if we see the road or reach a village we would take out there and then try hitching back to the car.

However, on the section of river we were now on footpaths lined both banks and because it was a sunny day and it was that funny time between Christmas and New Year there were many walkers on these paths. There were even some footbridges across the river and walkers were on these as well watching us float by. We struck up conversation with some of these walkers and on mentioning we needed to get back upstream to the car one gentleman offered us a lift. We immediately took him up on the offer and headed off downstream to the first road bridge, where he said he would meet us with his car, and he did. With the shuttle sorted there was just time to head to a lovely village pub before heading back to Preston.

More pictures can be found here.

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

29 December 2007

Back from a break

Today was the first time in ten days I've been out paddling. This is down to two things: not much water and being up in Scotland for Christmas without a boat. On returning to England and Lancashire through sheets of rain an email was sent almost instantly to a list of paddling contacts yesterday and by 9pm all the arrangement were sorted. Meeting at a service station then heading on to go and look at the Lower Rawthey.

When the day came the meeting place was changed and after looking at the Lower Rawthey, some of the group were put off by the levels caused by the biblical rain, we back tracked a little and headed for the Greta which flows out of Ingleton. Once on the river we headed downstream doing the usual thing.

Three of the paddlers sat at the side of the river.

Paddling downstream.

Running the main event on the river.

Team running the drop after the main event.

Once the Ingleton Greta was complete me and another paddler made plans to head onto another river. The Roeburn this time. A river I have not done so once cars and kit were sorted we headed west to the village of Wray to peak over the bridge at the river. It was on the low side of good, but we went for it anyway and boy am I glad we did as I wasn't overjoyed by my performance on the Greta. On the Roeburn I seemed to settle better and once the river was complete I was happy with the days paddling activities.

A waterfall coming into the Roeburn. Fallen trees were a major hazard on the river.

Portaging a Heath Robinson footbridge which was submerged by the river.

I should be off paddling tomorrow as there is still water in the area. Meanwhile here are the rest of the pictures from today.

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

19 December 2007

Low Water Days...

Not been paddling for a while so when I received an email from a friend away at University saying they were home for Christmas and looking to get out I replied: "Yeah. I'm up for a mission." A few texts later it was organised for him and today we met at 10:30am at the take-out for the Kent to implement our low water assault on the river.

At the start of the river just above Scroggs Weir.

It was low for sure. In fact it was the lowest I've ever seen the river and in places it was certainly bony. This made the paddling fairly easy, but ideal for a good catch up with people you've not seen for a while. Boy was it cold...

Yep. It certainly was!

At the bottom of Force Falls. This was the first time I had ever managed to get a picture of a paddler plugging the drop.

Once the Kent mission was over me and another paddler headed on in the van to the bottom section of the Leven for a bit of a scouting mission for times when there is more water flowing out the bottom of Windermere.

Me, not styling, the drop under Backbarrow Bridge.

The grade 5+ weir just after Backbarrow Bridge. This was portaged today, but in higher water there is a line somewhere near the join of the two angled sections.

Another self portrait at the bottom of the river as I waited for the other paddler to walk up and collect the van from the top.

More pictures can be found here.

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

16 December 2007


I've eventually managed to sell my Jackson All-Star so today I've been getting it ready for collection by the buyer tomorrow. Unfortunately I am dropping it off at Preston Train Station, which is twenty minutes walk from my house and that's what I'm doing. Walking. I've managed to rig up a carrying system with my rucksack and two roof straps. It's quite comfy so all should be good in transport. Not paddled today as the water has all dried up, which is a bit rubbish.

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

10 December 2007

Stepping up

Went paddling for a change today. The river we decided to head for wasn't in the Lune Valley and it wasn't in the Lake District for another change, instead it was out in the east, over into the Yorkshire Dales, Wharfedale to be precise. We decided to meet at the car park by the River Wharfe in Linton and then went to have a gander at Linton Falls - grade 5 in high levels according to the Guidebook - which was running high. It was bigger than one of the other paddlers had ever seen it. I thought it looked a goer and after our plans for the trip had been made I thought I might give it a go at the end of the trip seen as we could take out above or below it.

Looking upstream on the opening flat sections of the river.

The first three miles or there abouts of the trip were mainly flat water with the odd grade two rapid. This was nice, even though it was easy, no thought needed, paddling because it was cutting through the Yorkshire Dales meaning we had stunning views on either side of us of limestone topped rolling hills. Eventually however, we were heading to the bank to inspect Conistone Falls.

One of the group running Conistone Falls.

Re-packing a throw line after executing a rescue on the falls.

The river then carries on it's flat nature as it carries on making it's meandering descent through Wharfedale until we found our selves at the top of Ghastrills Strid. We had a quick peek and then ran it. Some of the group took easier lines than others, but it was a successful descent. Two weirs followed. We all ran the first one and then headed to the bank once more as we had reached the take out and the next weir would lead down into Linton Falls. I headed down to the falls to inspect whilst the other paddlers called it a day and took their boats back to the car. They soon arrived at the falls to act as safety and photographer for me. It took me a while to sort out my lines, 20 minutes, before heading back to my boat to bomb off the falls.

Getting ready to place the final stroke as I go over the first drop.

Landing the boof at the bottom of the first drop.

Lining up for the slide.

Falling down the slide into the pool above the bottom drop.

Powering away from the slide to get my line in sight.

Dropping into the bottom drop just about hitting the line.

Hitting the stopper at it's weakest point.

Bouncing into the rock behind the stopper.

Paddling away from the bottom of Linton Falls.

Good stuff.

More pictures can be found here.

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

09 December 2007

A bit of a mission...

on Leck Beck. Thought after yesterday's heavy showers that the Hindburn and the Roeburn would have come up for some Sunday fun however when we peered over the bridge in Wray village we were left with despondency as the river was near enough bone dry. We turned to the guidebook in our moment of despair and looked up Leck Beck, which flows out of the Easgill Caving system, and thought it might still be up as it will take a time to fill the caving system and drain out down the river bed. So we moved on to Cowan Bridge to kit up and start the mission.

Walking into Leck Beck. The beck is the one centre-left in the picture lined with grey trees.

This was the first time that I have had to walk into a river and it definitely added that bit more interest to the trip. The walk-in lasted about twenty minutes and I was hot by the end of it and glad to see the beck. The beck at the point we put-in was fairly wide and therefore it was shallow and bumpy for a while until it started entering Leck Beck Gorge. What a great name for a gorge found on Leck Beck!

One of the last rapids before we entered the gorge.

Inspecting the first drop into the gorge. It went on the right.

Me running the slide out of the second rapid in the gorge.

Running the first drop of Double Dilemma.

Running the last drop of Double Dilemma. Note the paddle shaft of the paddle as it jams against either side of the gorge.

The last drop of the gorge, Going Under. The other paddlers on the trip decided on portaging. After a fair time inspecting I turned and when asked said: "I reckon it'll go." The reply was "where do you want safety? I'll take the camera as well..."

Here was the resulting picture. I went deep off this drop, resurfaced upside down and rolled up as the pillow from the gorge wall pushed me away from the undercut at the base of the fall.

The last section of the river got a bit bumpy again and we often had to get out and drag the boats over the rocks.

In the end we gave up paddling and walked out back to Cowan Bridge.

Another great day on the river. I've now lost count of all the paddling I've done in the last few weeks. I can probably work it out by looking back through the blog, but I can't really be bothered. Anyway I'm off paddling tomorrow.

More pictures can be found here.

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

08 December 2007

Self portraits

As I am always the photographer it is not often I get pictures of me doing the do on the river. On the last few occasions I have been paddling I have tried my hands at self portraits from my boat. These require long arms, no skill and a bit of luck that what you capture is of quality. Let's see...

Mission: Ingleton Greta and Hindburn, Friday 7th December.

Mission: Duddon, Wednesday 5th December.

Mission: Low Gill, Upper Lune and Kent, Monday 3rd December.

Mission: Rothay, Sunday 2nd December.

Mission: Wenning, Friday 30th November.

Mission: Lower Rawthey, Dee and Clough, Wednesday 28th November.

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