River Ure trip – West Tanfield 28th June
What a glorious summer’s day it was to go paddling. If anything, it was a little too good, a few extra centimetres of water would probably have meant slightly fewer scrapes but quite frankly, if you’re in Yorkshire, it seems somewhat churlish to complain too much when the sun starts to shine.
Of course the day started too early, getting up at 7am on a Saturday is never something to aspire to but at least I didn’t have the chore of having to call in at the Club to pick up any kit so I’m sure that some others will have been up and about even earlier. At least it was a good drive over to North Yorkshire. Apparently there was some sort of cycle race taking place the weekend after we were paddling and as a result all of the roads had been resurfaced so all the potholes, road works and other such inconveniences had been removed, aside from nearly crashing in to some sort of HUGE buzzard thing that was picking its breakfast up from the middle of the road, it was a quick and hassle free journey.
We all met up in the car park and went to have a look at the river where we were joined by Pete who was staying at the campsite, paid up our subs for the day and then went to get changed in the special kayaking barn. It’s fair to say that the facilities provided an interesting interpretation to the concept of privacy but were certainly preferable to the alternative of shuffling around under a towel.
When we were all ready we split up in to two groups with one group wandering off upstream and the other making their way down to the river past the “No Canoe Launches From This Point” sign (which surely referred to seal launching from the bank when the river was high) and in to a rather shallow pool from which, it became apparent, it was impossible to paddle in to the river. Once we had extricated ourselves from the shallow pool it was a gentle bump and scrape down to the drops which were run by the whole group from top to bottom with varying degrees of success before portaging back to the top where Andrew pointed out what we should have done and the best line to take.
The 2nd run was more interesting for most members of the group with beginner’s luck beginning to run out. For my part, a slight detour down the wrong channel resulted in a rather prompt capsize and a renewed sense of appreciation for my helmet. Unfortunately, after getting a few bashes on the head I made the decision to stop trying to get out of my boat with one hand and let go of my paddle to enable a speedier exit. Although this meant that my head was soon out of the river bed, as a consequence it meant that I was just a spectator when my paddle went over the 2nd drop and completely disappeared. Searching for the paddle came to nothing and canvassing of the other paddlers at the bottom of the course confirmed that it had not been flushed out but luckily Pete had brought a spare club paddle which he kindly went back to the campsite for.
After a couple more runs it was time for lunch back at the campsite where we learnt that the ambiguous “No Canoe Launches From This Point” did not solely refer to seal launching. Fortunately the signs on the bins were rather more explicit so there were no problems in disposing litter although I don’t know if we’d have managed without the “This bin is full – do not use” and the “This bin is not full – please use next” signs.
It was soon back to the water and the afternoon was spent consolidating what we’d learnt during the morning runs. The kids spent most of their time playing on the waves at the bottom of the course, the competent adults did their own thing while Peter and Andrew looked after the rest of us as we tried to improve our lines and find the eddies after the 1st drop. The paddle availability situation worsened steadily throughout the afternoon with 2 paddles coming to grief on the rocks and annoyingly I managed to get my replacement paddle stuck under a rock although this was rather flukily retrieved following some unorthodox swimming.
The highlight of the day was definitely the group of open boaters who came past us late in the afternoon. It’s fair to say that they weren’t entirely successful with their attempts to make it down the drops inside their boats and with one of them in particular showing an interesting approach as to what to do if your boat goes down a drop without you.
The only real gripe of the day was that all of the cyclists had woken up by the time we were all making our way home and the journey back somewhat slower than normal.
Thanks to Pete for organising the day and to Andrew for looking after those of us who needed looking after. Thanks also to the bloke who phoned me up four days later to tell me that he’d found my paddle which goes to show that some people are honest and it’s worth putting your phone number on stuff.