The Leven flows out of the southern end of Windermere, so with Cumbria experiencing
high rainfall we set off early from the Club knowing that the river would be up a
bit. Ok, this was the weekend when Carlisle city centre was under 6+ feet of water,
a realistic assessment would have told us the river would be massive!.
A couple hours drive later and the lack of people getting ready to go on the river
was ominous - as was the absence of the Access Officer who is normally collecting
fees. A quick glance at the river explained it - The walls of brick shoot weir, normally
four or more feet clear of the river, were just out of the water! Immediately below
this where Mill Force (a grade 3/4 drop) was replaced by a river-wide torrent. There
were several routes down this - most sending you to an almost certain high speed
encounter with groups of trees! The usual route down the fall was clear, but according
to some people who had tried it, was back-looping anyone who ran it. Definately too
much for most people with us.
Having decided not to paddle we headed down to Backbarrow Bridge just below the get
out. This is impressive in any water level as the entire river funnels though the
6-foot wide bridge - you can feel the bridge shaking in normal flows. In flood in
was awesome - but you could see Stoppy was thinking about how to run it.
Back in the cars we headed for the Lune and a playspot at Halton rapids - but didn't
really know where we where going and the Lune was in flood as well so it could well
have been washed out.
So to plan C, head for the Burrs on the way back! So five hours after we left the
club, we got ready to get on the water. Although this was not without incident -
while getting changed a passing dog took an interest initially in Pete's drycag,
then turned its attention to Les' throwbag. Not deterred by our efforts to keep it
off our gear it turned its attention to helmets, knocking Les' under a nearby car,
before recovering it and bounding off across the car park. The following minutes
were pure farce, with Les and the dog owner chasing the dog and several failed attempts
to catch it and recover the helmet. The other club members present assisted by collapsing
into hysterics at the unfolding comedy. Eventually, the helmet was recovered, albeit
with a liberal coating of dog slober!.
Finally, we made it on to the river, with the Burrs at a good level for playing.