Saturday 9 April 2016

Canadian Canoeing River Journeying Skills Training Course in The Lake District. March 29th & 30th 2016.

Once again it's been a while since we've posted, Iain is not very good at doing a days work and then blogging about it straightaway that evening.

You could say that it's good news as if he is not blogging then he must be busy working!! Well, yes - let us say that since the Easter Weekend, he has been quite busy running some great sessions.

Photo one shows the mixed conditions we had over Easter and indeed since. This evening, in fact (April 9th) we've had rain & sleet/wet snow here in Kendal. Unbelievable!

Photo one shows the conditions on the Lake District Fells on March 29th. That is Helvellyn in the background - with a fresh coating of snow put down over the Easter weekend.

It was not too surprising therefore that the weather didn't bring tourists out in droves to try the many fantastic Outdoor activity packages that we offer. The truth was, it was just too cold!

Tuesday March 29th was looking like a better & drier day than the previous  few. Iain's concern was that rivers levels might have risen significantly - just in time for his River Journeying Skills Training Course with Helen & Ian who were accompanied once again, by son James.

You can read a post about the last time we worked with this family here. Having had an introductory Canoeing Session in The Lake District with Iain, the pair had gone on to buy their own Canadian Canoe and had spent the interim period mainly on the sea exploring south coast estuaries and west coast Scottish sea lochs. They returned to Iain to learn about river running and photo two sees us all on the River Eamont - about half a mile downstream from where it flows out of Ullswater. Once again, to his delight James found himself in the front of Iain's Novacraft Prospector.

For anyone wishing to learn the techniques of "River running", the Eamont is a good venue offering ten kilometres of water of no more than grade two in standard. It is a fairly fast flowing river quite hemmed in by its banks and it comes with four weirs to be negotiated.

The first is a rather nasty man made affair that should be portaged. The second, near to Dalemain house is little more than a rapid these days. The third, by Sockbridge Mill should again be portaged as there is a nasty weir made of boulders plus low trees overhanging the flow on river left and river right is a fast channel leading into more overhanging trees - "Strainers" as we call them for reasons that you might be able to appreciate!

Photo two sees Helen & Iain enjoying negotiating a shallow rapid near to Pooley Mill in their Old Town Penobscot Canoe made of the same composite material as Iain's Novacraft - Royalex, now out of production sadly - sadly as this material was one of the best ever products to be used for making lightweight Canadian Canoes!

Earlier, we mentioned portaging around weirs.What this basically means is getting your boat out of the river and carrying it past an obstacle perceived to be dangerous such as a weir, a serious rapid; or a waterfall.

If there is a likelihood of your boat capsizing with serious consequences for you should you end up in the water, then a portage should be undertaken.

Here in photo four, we were bypassing the Sockbridge Mill Weir and it was easy for Iain to drag his boat across the wet muddy grass of the field - easier than our carrying it anyway! James did his best to provide a helpful push!

Shortly after Sockbridge Mill Weir, we got off briefly at a place where  there was a nice low bank at a slower moving part of the river (photo five). By this time, we had been on the river for around three hours and had travelled about six out of the ten kilometres we had to go.

Today, Iain was acting as river guide leading Helen & Ian on the first moving water journey.  The aim of the day was to give Helen & Ian the skills to be able to go on their own river journeys with their young family. So far the day had gone very well without incident; and now the sun had come out to warm us all!

Photo six was taken about an hour later and about two & a half kilometres further down river.

In this photo James & Iain are sat in an eddy below Southwaite Green Mill Weir having just run the weir.

Iain & James had taken a line just left of river centre (that is to say taken when looking downstream) but of course we had gotten out to inspect the weir first. Iain  reckoned that the line (just right of Jame's head) would be possible without our hitting any rocks (always a hazard on a river) or getting caught in a stopper (a recirculating wave at the base of a drop).

The weir looked & sounded intimidating and it was, without doubt, the biggest challenge of the day. Helen was a little nervous about giving it a go. Moments after this photo was taken, Iain got out to go & give the pair some encouragement - they ran the weir with success - Bravo! A great achievement.

This left us with only about a kilmetres & a half to go to our get-out point at Eamont Bridge - now reopened after being damaged in last  December's floods caused by storm Desmond.

Photo seven sees us approaching Eamont Bridge where, on passing under the left hand arch, there is a convenient get-out and parking area for vehicles.

We arrived  here about 16:45 and after pulling the boats up the bank, Iain & Ian set off to retrieve the latter's Transporter van from our get-on point on Ullswater near Waterfoot Park. We returned to Eamont Bridge, loaded canoes and then departed aiming to meet at a pre-arranged place the next morning for the second day of river journeying - what excitement!

The family paid just £175:00 for their day out river journeying with Iain acting as a guide & coach. If you would like to get to try river running then book on to one of our all day Canadian Canoeing Sessions in The Lake District. We run these on Derwent-Water where  you'll learn the skills to propel a Canadian Canoe on flat water before undertaking and easy river journey on the middle Derwent- six kilometres of easy moving water. This day costs £160 or £80 per person with all technical equipment supplied as part of your fee. Contact us here to book your Canadian  Canoeing Session in The Lake District. We look forward to working with you!

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