October 23rd-24th 2004
by Unknown Author
A late snag with the College minibus caused a panic on the day of our leaving Leicester, with the garage being unable to finish working on the breaks until Monday. The importance and value of different groups helping each other was underlined when the Blaby and Whetstone Young People’s Club (Boy’s Club) made one of their minibuses available to us at short notice. A big thank you to Dave Springett.
So, on our way in torrential rain, was a smaller group than previous years (quality of quantity), making the Friday after-work journey beyond Manchester to the Burrs Bunkhouse.
Given the weather lately it was no surprise that the Irwell was running very high and fast on the Saturday morning. Not everyone joined the first group of paddlers, but for those that went on, it was a demanding paddle with lots of support from the coaches. Sophie deserves a special mention, as one of our newer paddlers, and joining us away from LOPC for the first time, took a pasting on difficult water but kept getting back in and giving it another go. Other swimmers on the first decent were Jake, stuck against a wall and wave trying something spectacular and my good self, who as always waited for a relatively calm stretch to bail out! The bottom wave was awesome and provided a good play spot for those who wanted it and excellent practice for breaking in and out for the less playful group members.
By the afternoon run, the water was down a little, reshaping some of the features and again giving lots of opportunities for a larger group to practice their white-water skills. The bottom wave was even better than earlier with a triple peak to break through.
The evening meal was a welcome chance to sit and talk about the day with some good food and a glass of wine. Sean who took on the organisation of the weekend for the first time, came up trumps with the catering with chilli and jackets and a traditional bread and butter pudding. A group then adjourned to the on-site pub and although they did not take part in the ‘Millionaires Night’, they had their own taste of gambling for big steaks (30p) with a game of Chase the Ace. The singer provided much entertainment, doing for music what Jake did later for bedroom hygiene.
Overnight rain on Saturday made way for a bright-ish (we are talking Manchester) Sunday morning, the river had dropped further still and talk of an upstream paddle was forgotten, favouring another run down the course. Ourselves and a couple of day visitors watched salmon jumping up the steps of the weir which was fun to watch (and they say we do some daft things).
The run down today was less demanding but very enjoyable in the Autumn sun. There was plenty of opportunity for coaching and playing and the only incidents were as paddlers pushed their own skill to the limits. Sean and Adam were pleased at the progress the group had made and Sophie completed the course dry, with good control and confidence.
The last stretch from the bridge to the get-out highlighted the challenges of white water with several paddlers getting pinned to an exposed rock. It did make for an exciting finale to the weekend and I think I saw Sean paddling without a boat at one point!
Everyone mucked it with the cleaning up and packing which made for a less stressful end to the weekend than previous - thank you.
A big thank you to Sean for organising the bunkhouse and catering. Thanks again to Sean, Adam, Glyn and Gary for instructor cover - I think Sean’s logbook will look a lot better after the weekend. Lastly, thanks to everyone who was there for making it a smashing weekend.
--------------------- The next chance to paddle away from home is the Avon Decent on Sunday 7th November (2004) although this is a race it can be done as a recreational paddle. If there is enough interest It would be a good follow up trip, otherwise it’s the Cold Turkey in December.
PaddlePlus will be helping with water safety cover for the 100-miler next May on the River Severn. If there are club members who would be interested in joining, please can they speak up so that we can arrange some longer paddles next Spring to prepare for it. The appetite for white water was certainly strong by the end of our Burrs weekend and the Severn offers a good mix of moving and flat water with a little endurance mixed in!