Springtime canoeing in Cumbria...
With an unseasonably mild forecast the call went out - who's up for an overnight canoe trip in the north Lakes - and before long we had a plan hatched...
Judith, Ed and I would spend 2 days paddling canoes from Grange in Borrowdale to Isel Bridge on the lower Derwent with Liz joining us on the Saturday on her sea kayak. The necessary permits were aquired from Derwent Marina who kindly agreed to look after Liz's car in exchange for a dontation to Keswick MRT, a far-from-straightforward shuttle was set up despite the massive pressure on car parking places in Borrowdale (half-term week, be warned!) and the trip was on...
The forecast came true; warm, calm, sunshine, blue skies. Is this really February in the Lakes? The Derwent delivered as ever, views opening up on fabulous scenery as snaked our way down river and onto Derwentwater.
Across to the west shore for a quick lunch stop at Manesty where our accomplised cake bakers established just how well fed we are on club trips; Ed and I took full advantage of this rather than be seen as ungrateful!
We arrived, all to soon, at Derwent Marina. Over a quick coffee and with furtive glances at the grey cloud tearing along the valley, we said cheerio to Liz. The wind and rain arrived in earnest and so it was in a quickly built raft, paddled by the remaing team of 3 we struck out, back up the lake to St Herberts Island and our home for the night.
Tents were quickly pitched, stoves lit, brews brewed and a stunning sunset appeared as the clouds evaporated...
Do you know how nocturnal geese are? Or how vocal they are? No, neither did we! After what seemed a long and seasonably cold night, an inversion wrapped the lake like a light duvet, gifting us incredible breakfast time views as the mist lifted and sunlight broke though.
A morning of great promise and excitement amongst the team...
Before long brews were enjoyed, porrige eaten, camp broken, kit packed into drybags and boats loaded. We were on our way; day two with the middle Derwent, Bassenthwaite and the lower Derwent in glorious sunshine ahead...
The middle Derwent welcomed us with gentle paddling for best part of an hour before opening out onto Bassenthwaite Lake.
As the lake widened the gentle breeze picked up and was heading straight towards our destination at the northern end of the Lake! Time to raft the two big canoes, find a suitable pole and get a sail up...
... all aboard the skylark! Rest those shoulders and maybe use the towed canoe as a platform to film the whole shebang? Let's just say that the idea was better than the execution: no filming took place, the lake water was as cold as might be expected for February and Ed and Judith's "man overboard" drill executed efficiently and effectively. Thank goodness for Buffalo clothing and Barry, say hello to Ducky, the club's new swimming buddy!
Arriving at the top of the river we quickly dismantled and stowed the sailing rig, snacked, organised boats, emptied (my) welly boots and began to think about journey's end. A decent way to go yet though and still some scenery to enjoy.
Isel Bridge was our destination and it was with big grins that we eventually arrived. An easy landing and carry to a nearby layby, the faff of loading up, recovering vehicles, stowing kit and, for me at least, getting into dry clothes and eating cake saw the sun begin to set, literally, on our adventure.
Thanks to Liz, Ed and Judith for a fantastic couple of days and here's to many more!
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