08 March 2009

Back on line...

My weekend panned out very like what was forecast at the end of Friday's post. I managed to get a presentation written on a weather map on Saturday and then today I managed to get out for that paddle. It wasn't looking like paddling would be a good idea after a fairly long dry spell, but many hours on the Internet looking at various forecasts and phoning the odd EA gauge left me with a vague idea that the River Kent was rising from a super low level. How much it would have risen by Sunday morning was any one's guess.

On arriving at the Kent it looked good to go. There was enough water in it. In fact it was on a good medium level and the sections we had a quick peak at all looked sweet; apart from Force Falls. On inspecting this drop from the roadside we could see a twig bobbing around in the hole at the bottom of the fall. It was as if something bigger and meaner was lurking below the water, which had either trapped the twig on its journey downstream or was connected to the twig and was stuck in the base of the drop. After this things got a bit vague, but we eventually ended up getting in our boats at the top of the Leven.

Through the meat of the small 2m drop after the Brick Chute Weir.

At the bottom of the Graveyard.

Running down the face of the last big weir.

I've run this river a lot recently. I was on it the other week at super low levels on the first day of my 4* Kayak Leader Assessment and then a couple of months before that. That particular trip sits well in my memory as I walked the drop under Backbarrow Bridge. It was the first time I had done this since running the bottom half of the Leven and I think this approach to running the rapid had come from the visit prior to that one. I had got totally lost in the cascading water meaning that I ended up just hanging in and hoping I'd hit a reasonable line. The line I ended up on resulted in a bit of a trashing against the side of the bridge.

Today, on the drive to the bottom of the river we stopped for a peak at the monster and I, for the first time in a long while, stood and looked at the drop properly and worked it all out from scratch instead of relying on odds and ends I had read in guidebooks or online. When it came to running the drop I hit my line, got a lovely dry head and was able to sit at the bottom and watch a wee bit of carnage unfold. I have been told in the past not to sensationalise Backbarrow Bridge, but you just can't help it after such a bad record with a drop that does require some degree of skill and respect. Hitting my line today did my confidence some good, but still, being in a boat doesn't feel as good as it used to.

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

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