Monday, 28 February 2011

The River Lune in one day

8.5hrs paddling
Several weirs
Several moments of concern (no swims)
4 fishermen (2 very happy ones!)
5.9km/hr average speed.

Over the last 3 days, we have paddled many kilometres of stunningly beautiful river that few people will see until rivers access is changed here in England. It is quite possible that more British paddlers have toured along the Ardeche, Sun Koshi and Colorado Rivers, than the hidden stretches of Rivers Eden and Lune. Yet these beautiful British rivers are national treasures, hidden from public view by outdated traditions and rules that bear no relevance in todays modern age of outdoor excersise and fitness.

With no significant rain for the last three days, the water levels in the River Lune were low. Rather than our intended start at Newbiggin-on-Lune, We launched at the begining of the classic whitewater run at Beckfoot.
Shallow pebbly rapids led to the first of the narrow limestone chutes that typify this well-loved stretch. Each chute became more technical until the notorious 'Strid' was reached. Two of us missed the eddies above, which led to bottom lips quivvering for a moment or two. Friendlier rapids led to two weirs, the lower of which is Stangerthwaite weir and has a fearful reputation. Both Passed without incident and we soon emerged below the Rawthey confulence into more placid waters. 

The River Lune then led us peacefully through the world of the landed gentry. A beautiful rolling landscape with a mixture of farms, woodland and hunting land. When we reached Kirkby Lonsdale we stopped for a break at Devil's Bridge before heading on to the second half of the day. 

Further on, the river becomes broad and shallow, meandering accross a flood plain in a broad valley. In this ideal fishing territory we met four anglers, two of which were very happy to have just landed a catch and were willing to share their moment with us.

A while after Loyn Bridge we met up with our friend Peter Roscoe who joined us for the final section. Peter paddles Halton Rapids regularly and showed us the best lines. When we eventually arrived at Lancaster we landed close to Skerton Weir and made our way to Brookbank Canoes Lancaster branch nearby. They made us very welcome providing us with a place to get changed and hot drinks all round. Peter then gave us a lift back to Kates van before we all tucked into some more Cumberland Sausage back at Kate's house.

I'm sad to say that I have decided that I must finish the trip here. I have aggrevated a prevoius injury to my left arm and it would be unsafe and irresponsible for me to carry on. Kate and Sean have every chance of completing the Cumberland Ring. As they head out to sea this morning making for Piel Island, I wish I was with them. However, all I can do now is wish them anything and everything that could help them in reaching the end on Friday.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Eden completed

First, a few statistics...

2 days (8.5hrs + 6hrs paddling)
109.2km (68.1 + 41.1)
1 portage
8 fishermen (7 pleasant ones!)
8.7km/hr average speed on day 1
8.3km/hr average speed on day 2

Paddling almost the entire length of a river gives a perception of how a river evolves as its waters travel from the hills to the sea. We started in the Scandal Beck at first light on day one, at the highest place with enough water to float, and finished just above the normal tidal limit on the second day. The night was spent in a sheltered bivi spot on the riverside.

A little more water would have been nice in the upper section but we got down to the confluence with the Eden without too much scraping. Skills in dodging trees were tested from the start, as the clear, shallow water flowed swiftly over the brown, yellow and grey rocks of the river bed.

There was much more water as soon as we joined the Eden, quickly boosted by a series of other tributaries. The river depth increased enough to be able to put in proper paddle strokes, improving our rate of progress. The banks were a mixture of woodland and grazing on either side of what we discovered to be a beautiful touring river.

Second breakfast (or first lunch) saw us get through some more of the local sausage (*), this time as sandwiches. This meal was a welcome break on a small island in the river after 23km of continuous paddling. All afternoon we made swift progress along flat, but fast moving water, until we arived at Eden Lacy. Here a weir forced a quick inspection, and momentary excitement before we landed for lunch part two and a tour of Lacy's caves. Our first day ended with a blast down the usual white water section of the Eden to finish at a Armathwaite for beers and a bivi.

An excellent pub in Armathwaite (the Fox and Pheasant) gave us good food, good beer and internet access. However, sheer exhaustion forced us to leave fairly early and return to our bivi site.

Pre-dawn preparations allowed an early start, followed immediately by a strategic portage of Armathwaite weir. None of us had any desire for heroics and a possible dunking so early in the day. Flat but fast-moving water assisted our passage through much more open farmland, while giant looping meanders increased the distance we had to paddle to reach our destination at the tidal limit. The narrow, shallow stream that we started on had become a mature high-volume river on its way to the Solway.

[* - The last of the sausage was a vital ingredient in this evening's pasta sauce. We look forward to trying the second variety after tomorrow's paddle.]

Saturday, 26 February 2011

A good start

We're all too tired after a 67km paddle to write much now. The Fusions are working out well but they are a bit short for that sort of distance! Tomorrow should be a shorter day, so please come back for more details!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Pre-match supper

Now that's what I call a sausage! Thanks to Cranston's, we have had our supper and there is plenty left for sausage sandwiches for lunch tomorrow and beyond.

After our meal we spent an hour or so packing our kit for tomorrow's paddle. So far, so good - everything seems to fit in the Pyranha Fusions. Let's just pray for some overnight rain.