Autumn Rains – Paddling Season!

I guess I would describe myself as mainly a climber and mountaineer (still a bit of a road cyclist but not so much of a racer these days) but I have always been a White Water Kayaker too – just a seasonal one. That season being the time between the end of rock climbing before the snows arrive – so it is definitely paddling season now!

Testing the new boat, Jill's Folly, R Duddon

Testing the new boat, Jill’s Folly, R Duddon

A new Kayak has also been an incentive to get out, swapping an agile but low volume boat for a bigger volume river runner/creek boat – the Phyrana Burn 3. First trip was down Cumbria’s River Duddon just over a week ago. Fairly high water levels but not anywhere near spate so a good test for me and the boat, I knew the boat would be fine but with it was 11 months ago when I last paddled any significant white water so would I be sharp enough? No capsizes, hit every line & breakout and some enjoyable playing in various play spots so it was all good – can’t say for sure though that it was me who was sharp or a more forgiving boat!

Rachel approaching Duddon Hall Falls Gr IV, R Duddon

Rachel approaching Duddon Hall Falls Gr IV, R Duddon

I was out again on Friday, this time on the River Crake where we hoped Coniston water would slow any rapid rises in level from the forecasted rain. This was the case but it was still high with some quick water pushing through the two main rapid sections. The footbridge on the Bobbin Mill rapid required a low duck under. Pete got through fine, but I scraped a bit of paint off my brand new, very comfortable and expensive Sweet Rocker Helmet. The intermittent wave that builds and falls under the bridge properly got Sten, He was pushed up hard into the bridge cracking his Sweet Rocker helmet but it did its job and protect the metal plate in Sten’s skull he acquired after surgery just 2 years ago. So Sten’s day ended with a trip to A&E just to get checked over, fortunately the only damage was to his helmet and wallet.

Sten at the end of the 1st Grade III rapid, R Crake

Sten at the end of the 1st Grade III rapid, R Crake

Saturday was a much wetter day but the worst of storm Abigail did not hit South Cumbria until dark arrived by which time I was just finishing off the outdoor part of the day with a group of Scout Leaders attending UK Scouting’s first CPD conference weekend for Assessors of the Activity Permits Scheme. This was held at UK Scouting’s Great Tower Camp & Activity Centre on the East shore of Lake Windermere. The Scouts had been in touch with the Association of Mountaineering Instructor’s to help them with their Rock Climbing & Hillwalking. So Paul Platt & I were asked to run sessions to update them on current Best Practice with Single pitch climbing & Security on Steep Ground for Mountain walking. An interesting and busy day’s work which judging from the feedback was well received. Other sessions going on at the conference included Canoe sport, Gyhll Scrambling and Lyon ran session on group Kit stores, logging kit etc and of course brought along their Kit testing/destruction rig which for some strange reason, to me at least, climbers always find fascinating. For me the last thing I want in my head when climbing is images of failing karabiners!

On Sunday Kendal did not flood despite what National News reports were predicting, I have seen the River Kent much higher several times before, however it was close enough that I was glad we had moved up the hill away from the river. I used to live just 200m from a good surf wave on the river but days like Sunday remind me that the half mile walk up the hill with my kayak is not such a bad thing compared to worrying if we were going to be Kayaking in the house. After a few photos of the weir we headed for a day in the climbing wall, it was all a bit too much water to be a sensible Kayaking day.

Pete on a fast moving R Crake

Pete on a fast moving R Crake