Sunday 4 April 2010

Stag & Hen events in The Lake District. Open Canoeing session, Middle Derwent, Easter Saturday 2010

On Easter Saturday, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services ran an introduction to moving water open canoeing course for the party pictured here. They had come to the Lake District for a hen weekend and wanted some outdoor activites but not as part of a rigid Hen or Stag event package.

We were also asked to provide lunch for the group and here they enjoy soup & sandwiches prior to starting the session. We also provided tea, coffee, hot chocolate and soft drinks as well as cake, biscuits & fruit - so there was something for everyone to enjoy and plenty left for the end of the session. Kirstin's cranberry & macadamia flapjack was a firm favourite with everyone!

After lunch, we got changed and unloaded the canoes to the starting point just upstream from the Portinscale footbridge near Keswick before quickly shuttling the Land Rover and trailer and cars to near our get out at Low Stock Bridge.
Back at the get in, Iain showed the group paddling strokes such as breaking into & out of eddies, ferry gliding and draw strokes amongst other skills and these were practised before we began our journey down river.
This shot shows the group having a brief stop under the A66 roadbridge. None of them were new to moving water - all having been in kayaking courses at some time in the past and a few had been in Canadian canoes too. They were all keen and enthusiastic and a fab group to work with.

The forecast for the day was showers & sunny spells with a max temp of 10 degrees c. This view looks from the river to Skiddaw 3058 feet - the highest hill to the north of Keswick and Iain was quite surprised by the amount of snow remaining on the mountains indicating that temperatures up there were obviously still around the freezing mark.
The day started with quite a few showers, but by the time the group arrived, the weather was improving. There was only a light breeze and the river level was moderate - making it a very pleasant paddle indeed.

This section of the river Derwent - the middle Derwent is approximately 3km long and a very pleasant grade one with the odd bit of two. The gradient eases towards its juncture with Bassenthwaite Lake and there are plenty of places to learn the necessary basic skills for river running.
Iain took this shot of the group after they had all just descended a slightly faster part of the river which ended up with "strainers" on river right and river centre. Hazard recognition and avoidance are part of all Kendal Mountaineering Services outdoor activity courses and having coached the group on how to approach this particular section - all three canoes were successful in making it safely to this point.

Here, we had arrived at Low Stock Bridge - our get out point. Along the way we had seen some beautiful views of the surounding mountains and seen a lot of aquatic birdlife - all in peace & tranquility.
All that remained now was to get the canoes the 500M to the vehicles which took a while but everyone pitched in.
We then returned to Portinscale bridge to pack up and eat more flapjack. The party were intending to hillwalk on the Sunday and Iain hopes it didn't turn out to be too chilly for them. They thoroughly enjoyed their open canoe session with us and the lunch we provided - with one party member saying that they should have got us to cater the whole weekend for them!

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