Occasional posts and blogs about life at Adur Canoe Club
ACC Alps trip report – July 2017
The formal paddling/coached element of trip was scheduled to start on Monday July 3rd but the six paddlers (Adrian, Esther, Ian, Jen, Nick and Steve) had collaborated on travel plans to share costs, driving etc. which meant Nick & Steve would arrive at the campsite (Camping des Allouviers) on Saturday, Adrian & Jen on Sunday and Esther & Ian on Monday. The campsite was quiet, shady – important given the 30+ temperatures we had all week – clean and friendly. We all agreed we would be happy to stay there again. It was also very good value; typically we paid about €50 each for our various permutations of nights, cars, leccy etc.
Grahame Moss from Escape Outdoors was our coaching provider for the trip; logistical problems meant Grahame wasn’t able to come himself but the ‘substitute’ he provided was Jon Smith a hugely experienced alpine paddler and as we were to find out superb coach and all round good egg. Jon took us to the St Clements slalom site on the Durance in the morning so we could all do some calibration of where our paddling was at. St C. doesn’t have any big features but the water is fast flowing, in fact *very* fast flowing. We spent several hours in the sunshine playing in the flow and on the waves and getting used to the speed and temperature (coooooooold) of the water.
For the afternoon Jon took us on more of a bimble down the Lower Guil. The section we were on might be class 3 in its prime but with the generally low water levels in the region it was more like 2. We got on up near the hydro station and paddled back down to the get out near the dechetterie.
Esther and Ian arrived in time for dinner and we ate and drank communally as we had done the night before and did all week. This wasn’t a given as the trip remit was that we would spend our time on the water together but after that people could do as they pleased. As it happened we were all very happy to cook/eat (very well) and drink (copiously) together each evening.
We were back at St C for Esther and Ian to get their eye in for alpine water whilst the rest of us tried to refine and build on our efforts from the day before. After lunch we did the ‘sunshine’ run on the Durance from near St C down to Embrun via the legendary Rabioux wave. Along the way we had some heroic/crazy seal launches from Adrian and Esther! The Rabioux was negotiated safely by all – probably grade 3 or 3+ given the level it was at – and the Embrun wave was pippsy in comparison. Once at Embrun we made our way across to the lake and enjoyed a swim in the lagoon
We travelled a bit further afield to the Ubaye valley which was about a 90 minute drive through some lovely Alpine scenery. We got on at the bridge by le Martinet ready to run the ‘racecourse’ – 7km of solid grade 3 and some 3+ thrown in for good measure. At the end of it we were mentally/physically exhausted to varying degrees but universally exhilarated at how much fun it had been! There had been big wave trains, tricky rapids, stunning gorges and much much smiles and giggles. Jon’s coaching came into its own here with his emphasis on using positivity and mood to help us all to paddle at our best. The only way to ‘warm down’ from this was obviously a trip to the inflatable zone at Embrun Lake. And to finish the day we had an awesome BBQ – and a few drinks.
In his quest to give us new experiences each day Jon took us to the Briancon gorge and we will always be able to say that “we paddled the gorge in conditions that everyone else walked away from”. And no one need ever know that this was because the level was so low! It didn’t look too bad at the get on but there after it was complete bump and scrape albeit on a new river, in spectacular scenery and in beautiful sunshine so very bearable. And there was a really fun wooden chute bit that had a fairly sizeable drop at the end of it – well probably a meter or so!
For the afternoon we decided to head for where we knew there was water i.e. the Durrance and the Rabioux wave to Embrun section. People took more time to play on the wave this time and the developments in skills and confidence were obvious to see. As he had done elsewhere during the week Adrian led the group down this section as part of his Leader training – and needless to say he did it superbly. At the end of the day there was an even more superber BBQ – and poss some bevvies too.
Our last day! The plan had been to paddle the mighty Argentier slalom course but when we got there it was closed for a competition and wouldn’t be open again till 7pm on Sunday – it was 10 am Friday at this stage. Jon called on all his apps, knowledge and sneaky scouting of rivers that he had been doing and said we should head for the Gyronde instead. And yay when we got there, there was enough water to make it well worth running. We got on at the campsite and given that we were all now hardened Alpine paddlers it was well within our limits although it was quite technical and had some tricky rapids to be negotiated. It was such a nice run – and because we didn’t want our trip to end – that most of the group ran it twice! And then it was to the bar at Armentieres for our trip/paddling review and debrief. The review can be summarised as ‘It was all Fab, we were all Fab’. We finished the trip by treating ourselves (€13 treat level) to ‘Moules frite’ in a fab bar in Argentieres – first one on the left as you drive in from the South! And then is was back to campsite, start to pack up, get ready for journey back, prep for bandit run in St C course (no names mentioned) etc.
In conclusion it is safe to say that we all came back (safely!) with improved paddling skills and confidence. As a bonus we also had a really, really nice time in terms of comradery and fun – on an ACC trip; who knew? We all agreed we would be up for doing it again next year alto there were some murmurings about the Soca or maybe Austria etc. etc.
As ever, so many rivers, so little time!!
KM driven c 2,200
Tolls and fuel £150
Ferry Newhaven Dieppe (with cabin) £100
Food (and drink!) £75
Approx. cost per person =< £600
Fun factor 11/10
River Hamble Trip – 8th July 2017
A bright and sunny start to the day as we all arrived at Swanwick Hard. A small hiccup as we found a very small and very busy car park – top marks to those who arrived early enough to get a space and to get breakfast, definitely something to consider for any future trips.
After keeping an eagle eye out and pouncing on anyone leaving, we all managed to park and unload and three opens and a range of kayaks were on the water by 11:30.
The trip started with a short, careful paddle around the big boats – lots of quite impressive yachts and cruisers… though obviously nowhere near as much fun as a canoe! After paddling under the motorway the river opened out into a beautiful, wide and gentle piece of water. Lots of people out on the water having fun, including a stand-up-paddleboarding dog which was surprisingly stable.
A lovely paddle upstream to the Jolly Sportsman at Curbridge where we stopped for some much needed ice cold drinks and a picnic lunch before setting off back down the river. We made good use of some overhanging branches to practice our limbo moves whilst paddling backwards – all good skill improvement and not as hard as it sounds. It wasn’t quite so easy for those people who had a go at standing up in an open and stepping over the branch – which mainly meant swimming practice, Hazel made a valiant attempt but not sure how ably she was helped by Robbo … harder still was trying the stand-up step challenge in a kayak (only tried by Will and Sam – no one else foolish brave enough to try it).
Continuing the trip we took a right fork in the river towards Botley Quay. Finding a deserted piece of water we stopped for a while to play involving lots of water time for Eliyah who really is a mermaid, playing Frisbee with seaweed as an alternative and the chuckle brothers (aka Neil and Robbo) doing their best to make sure everyone had a refreshing swim – them included. We were having so much fun we didn’t quite make it up to Botley – think that means we have a good excuse for a return trip sometime! Well done to Chris and Dave who had a very useful and effective pump which proved to be a very useful bit of kit to help empty out the rather waterlogged opens.
As the tide had turned we started to head back downstream with Vanessa and Elaine effortlessly leading the way. Flo showed excellent balance by standing on the front of an open for a large part of the way back with barely a wobble, while Kate proved everyone wrong by happily managing the whole trip in a playboat.
Huge thanks to John Kennett for what was a thoroughly enjoyable, relaxed and fun day out – the first ACC trip for me and Sam, looking forward to the next one already.
Lots of pictures of the trip can be found here – https://goo.gl/tukJmt
Chichester Harbour trip 17/18 June 2017
Although officially only a ‘day trip’ a dozen or so club members had made their way over to Cobnor on the Saturday for some ‘peer’ paddling and a nights camping. The peer paddling involved a trip for some kayaks and SUPs from Cobnor as far as the Anchor Bleu in Bosham in the glorious weather that trip supremo John Kennett had arranged.
Sunday was the day for the trip proper and by 10am there was a flotilla of about 20 (Canoes, kayaks, sea-kayaks and a dog!) ready to set off for East Head at the Witterings. The weather was still glorious and it was a lovely paddle down with an increasing volume of (much) larger boats also making their way to open waters. Having made good time to East Head we decided to paddle around to West Wittering beach in search of ice-cream. The fab weather meant that the beach was *very* busy – the police closed the road later – but paddling to it meant that we were able to find a quite spot and avoid most of the crowds. We pootled about here for an hour or so and when the lifeguards on their assorted quad-bikes, jet skis, jeeps and RIBs started telling people to make their way back from the sand island we knew that the tide was turning and we could have a leisurely paddle back.
We made another stop at East Head just to visit the ice-cream boat – it would have been bad form not to – and some of our group apparently also stopped alongside a moored craft to share cold beverages with some yachties who were obviously up for a bit of hanging out with the common people! The trip back was very pleasant and all those involved in the water fights were willing participants. How two very competent canoe paddlers ended up in the water – unaided by anyone else – is still something of a mystery but pictures were taken so we have some early ‘SOTY’ candidates.
We were off the water by 4pm and by virtue of being in Cobnor managed to avoid what would have no doubt been horrendous traffic queues to get away from the Witterings. All told it was another really good ACC trip with a lovely mx of paddling and socialising. More pictures of the trip can be found here –
06/11/2016 – A Novice’s Perspective by Jas
Hi I’m Jas. I’ve just turned 15 and I started paddling with the ACC in the spring of 2016. Before I joined the club, I really didn’t have that much experience with kayaking. I’d just done a few fun trips on calm water and had mucked about on SUPs on holidays. However, I really enjoyed the little kayaking I had done, so I thought I’d join the ACC so I could do it more often.
To start with I went to one of the club’s pool sessions that they run in the winter when it’s too cold and dark on the river. It was quite odd turning up and seeing 15 kayaks in a little pool! I didn’t really get to do much paddling but it was great for building up my confidence with capsizes. Then, when the next green tide came around (beginners tide), I went out on the Adur.
I must admit, I wasn’t too taken by it after my first session, there was so much gear, so many different types of boats and I was by far the worst paddler on the water. Then, as I was a beginner I had to wait for green tides and so sometimes I had quite a long wait before I could get back in a boat, and the only thing that kept me going was my mum forcing me and not letting me quit!
Then one day I went to an amber tide (a slightly harder tide) and Jenny (one of the coaches) showed me that there was so much more I could do in a kayak. From that day on I have loved it! I started going to every tide. Admittedly I was absolutely rubbish and spent most of the session spinning on my first red tide. I was a right nuisance for Danny (another coach) but he just made it funny and encouraged me to keep trying.
Since starting with the club I have now learnt a bunch of new skills, tried out a range of different kayaks and canoes and have passed my BCU 2 star. And now that the winter is here and we are in the pool again, my new goal is to learn how to roll! I’m making some good friends and am looking forward to maybe going on some of the trips the club does next year!
If you aren’t sure whether to try kayaking or not, I’d say go for it! It may seem difficult at first but hang in there and you’ll love it.