27 January 2008


Paddle for Clive

Today was the day I headed back up to the Lake District to make a descent of the River Crake. Hopefully a successful one. This was the first time I had even gone anywhere near the river since it all happened and I was determined to paddle it and show that it isn't going to beat me. In all the plans I had put across the Internet I had said we were meeting at Brown Howe for 10. I arrived early to an empty car park and within minutes I was surrounded by seventeen boats all belonging to Leeds Canoe Club. They soon got on and more boats arrived, they got on and yet more boats arrived, got on and headed south to the mouth of the Crake. The group from Ribble Canoe Club, who I was paddling with, got on last and made their way to the mouth of the river.

Getting on the water at Brown Howe, Coniston and heading to the river.

It was like any normal river trip. We paddled and tried to have fun. Occasionally we didn't have fun, but that was when it went temporarily wrong like when we had a swimmer. That was quickly sorted and we moved on continually looking to have fun and nothing else.

Some of Ribble Canoe Club's member's playing on the only other rapid of note.

I can't really say a lot about the trip. We paddled and paddled a bit more. At times it didn't feel right and slightly weird to think that twenty-seven days ago I was on this river at a similar level with my dad. Laughing, joking and just having fun. Unfortunately when it went wrong, it went wrong, and it wasn't sorted quickly. It wasn't sorted at all. I was determined to not let that little fact stop me, my friends, or others being put off a river which at the end of the day is only grade two with some three's and has helped introduce many people to the delights of paddling.

Running the diagonal weir somewhere on the Crake.

Paddling through a small rapid.

Eventually we reached Bobbin Mill Rapids. The scene of it all. I had been leading the group from Ribble Canoe Club all the way down the river and I paused at this moment. Not because I was hesitant about dropping into the rapids, but because I wanted to get the paddlers to regroup a little as we had got spread out a bit too much. Eventually I dropped down the weir leading from the front. Took a break out and then another, before I came to the steepening in the river. I carried on, looking for the break out that I knew was there.

Where it all happened; the bottom of Bobbin Mill Rapids.

There it was. The break out. There it was. The place dad had been pinned. Four metres from where I was sat happy, but slightly shaky, in my boat. Two more paddlers descended the rapid and out I jumped from my boat to stand with a throw line. There were no problems though. Not this time. We all made it down and people moved on.

Dropping down the last bit of Bobbin Mill Rapids.

I climbed back into my boat. Had a bit of trouble putting my spray deck on because of the swirly eddy, eventually ferried across the top of where my dad had been pinned and into the eddy in the middle of the river, where my boat had been left tethered. I then cut back across the river to just below where my dad had been pinned into some slack water. I fought my way back upstream enough to surf across the small wave formed by the rock which must have pinned my dad. I moved on downstream to where some of the group where getting off. I was carrying on with a bit of false optimism in finding my AT's somewhere on the banks as I had lost them during all the events of New Years Eve. I was out of luck.

Paddling towards Greenodd after passing through Spark Bridge.

Eventually we made it to Greenodd and got off the river. It was just another river trip at the end of it all. We packed up and headed north to the Church Inn House at Torver where we were planning to meet up with the other paddler's who had based themselves over at Waterhead. I had one text message on my phone: "70 plus on the Rothay. I have run out of fingers." That's a fair few and didn't take into account the people that headed for the lake instead of the river. The pub was going to be full.

My mum (centre; white PFD) with more Ribble Canoe Club member's about to get on Lake Windermere.

Through the day money was collected for the Village Hall at Spark Bridge. Throughout New Years Eve and day's after the accident many of the resident's have been a great help and have allowed family member's to traipse through their houses and gardens to see where it all happened and try and comprehend what happened on THAT day. Collecting for the village hall was some way in which we could repay them for this help. We raised £236.50 - hence the title of the post.

More pictures can be found here.

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

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