Wednesday 17 August 2011

5 day Open Canoe skills training course in The Lake District August 8th - 12th 2011.

During August 8th - 12th, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services worked for the Cadet Centre for adventurous training (CCAT) running an Open Canoe Foundation course in The Lake District.

The CCAT Open Canoe Foundation Course (OFC) is designed to give young people the basic skills required to handle these craft on open water ie lakes. Depending on how well people progress during one of these OFC courses, they may well be entitled to gain their BCU 1 or 2 star awards.

The first photo shows Iain's team of four on day two on Coniston Water - looking somewhat wet, but rightly pleased with themselves as having capsized both craft in the picture and all gone in themselves they had just successfully completed an "all in rescue". In this, they had to empty out first one canoe and get two people back in - and then empty out the other canoe and get its paddlers back in. This was done fairly rapidly - well done team!

We had a total of five days together during our Canadian Canoeing course in The Lake District. We spent Monday at Waterhead on Windermere looking firstly at flat and then moving water skills.

Tuesday was on Coniston Water looking at more advanced skills and Wednesday (photo two) we headed to Derwentwater to join up with the three star group intending a paddle down Derwentwater followed by a descent of the middle Derwent.

The plan on day three would have been fine had we chosen not to paddle Derwentwater first. As we got to our access point, a strong wind started to blow NE. The weather was already poor with low cloud and sheets of rain drifting across the lake and having set off for the north end of Derwentwater. We soon found ourselves being blown before a strong wind. Canadian canoes have a great deal of their surface area above water and so are badly affected by wind. It was difficult, if not virtually impossible to paddle on Derwentwater, so we had to leave the lake and portage the canoes to a suitable place where they could be collected with a canoe trailer - did we get to the river? Not on this day!

On Thursday, the winds had dropped. We still had low cloud and a chance of rain, but it was looking more settled, so Iain chose to return to Derwentwater once again - this time to look at moving water skills on the upper Derwent which flows from Borrowdale in to Derwentwater.

This was possible because three of Iain's party were already very competent paddlers - having already undertaken their Kayak Foundation Course (KFC) with CCAT some time previously and they had, on Monday, spent some time solo paddling their canadian canoes.

So, on the Thursday, we looked again at solo and tandem paddling in Canadian canoes and also moving water techniques such as breaking in to and out of eddies, ferry gliding, poling, reading the river and arranging ourselves to take the best line down easy rapids. The upper Derwent was a safe and friendly place to do this.

Photo three was taken on the upper Derwent and shows Alex getting the hang of forward ferry gliding - leaning the boat slightly downstream, having the correct angle of boat across the current and paddling on the downstream side using as few strokes as possible - great job!

The final photo is a view along the upper Derwent looking south in to Borrowdale as we returned downriver to Derwentwater. Adam, nearest in his canadian canoe, is paddling solo and was busy practising the Indian Stroke which is an advanced technique.

All of the cadets on this OFC thoroughly enjoyed themselves and learnt a great deal from Iain during the week.

Whilst the Open Canoe Foundation Course is a fairly advanced level course, you too can arrange your own open canoe skills training courses with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services. Open Canoeing is a great session for families, groups or individuals and can be either a half day taster session or a full day or multi-day activity here on the Lake Districts many lakes & rivers. It is also great as part of a teambuilding course and is popular with stag & hen parties visiting the area and looking for something different to do.

To book your open canoeing course with Kendal Mountaineering services contact us here. To see the rest of the pictures from this five day Open Canoe Foundation Course click here.

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