Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saying hullo to an old friend.

I haven't paddled the Loop for a couple of years, so I was a tad apprehensive when old buddy Colin invited dh and me to paddle the 'Loop' last Sunday. The Loop is an intermediate section of the River Dart, about 4 miles long, and called the 'Classic SW paddle' by the UK rivers Guidebook. It's on our doorstep, not far away from Ashburton and the A38. The 'put-in' is at New Bridge where there is a large carpark which looked like boat city. (When I started paddling, I thought people were talking about a PUB when they spoke of the put-in!). The 'Get-Out' is now just below Holne Weir.

See that little blue boat on top of the silver car in the photo below? It's a little 'open boat' rather than a closed cockpit kayak - those gnarly paddlers went off to paddle the Upper Dart.I was relieved to see that the water was barely reaching the top of the slab by the bridge - which is a good guide to water level on the river. Roughly translated this meant that the river was a medium level, despite all the rain the week before, and easy enough to negotiate even for rusty old me. The Loop (as do many rivers) has delightfully scary names for its features like "Washing machine", "Lover's Leap", "Triple drop" and the "Spin Dryer". The latter is little more than a big eddy which has a high fence which is difficult to climb out of at high water levels, so you end up going round and round and round and...

The carpark was full of old friends from Teignmouth Canoe Club (TCC)- here's Chris and Sally, with Jude to Chris' right and their son Alex's legs in the background.

We also caught up with Ben May's mum Sally, who isn't paddling at the moment after injuring her knee and shoulder/arm in a serious car accident in Chile. That's dh by the boats, and Colin in the middle, talking to Sally. You can't see it, but I brought my knitting - it's in a little red bag, sitting in front of the large dry bag in the middle kayak. I've got a Dagger RPM - not the most up to date little boat, but reliable and a good all rounder - IN fact me and DH have matching kayaks - like tweedledum and tweededee! The trip down the river was great - the weather was a bit grey and watery, but at least it wasn't raining. The paddle itself was like saying hullo to an old friend. There was no need to be apprehensive - once you get past a drop, you look round and say to yourself, "Oh, is that all it was? - wheeeee!" or something like that anyway. Must do more paddling. If you want to see pics of paddlers on the river itself, see here, as my camera isn't waterproof.

And finally - a rather less than flattering pic of me, showing off a lovely orangey red tideline across my forehead which came from the dye in the hat my sister gave me for chrimble. It kept me warm underneath my helmet anyway. That's not ALL my hips you can see - that's the spray deck. Honest.

Sal encouraged me so I've signed up to join the TCC in Tintagel next month- bit of kayak surfing, some walking, cycling, good company, mmmm. Shame DH doesn't want to come too. He reckons it'll be too bleak.


Riggwelter said...

Oh I so envy you having the time to do the kayaking it was great fun!

Love the hair!

DirkStar said...

Well, my word look what the otter dragged in!

Nice to see you back and with such fine stories too.

lilypily said...

Is kayaking hard to learn? I've never done it before and would love to. It just looks like fun. Did you get the dye out of your hairline? :o)