A dozen of us had been lucky enough to get a place on ‘Cath’s Ouse Cruise’ with numbers being limited because it was Cath’s first outing as a trip leader and because it was a six mile, canoe only trip that would require an amount of relevant paddling hours. Cath’s superb trip planning meant that even though she had a puncture – to be accurate it was her van, not her – all paddlers, boats and kit still arrived at the rendezvous point (Barcombe Mills’s car park) pretty much at the agreed time.
By 10.45 we were kitted up, briefed, moved from the car park to the get-in about 250 meters away, and on the water for the outer, against the flow and wind, leg of our journey. The low – but adequate – water level kept us out of the chill wind and the mostly bright sunshine offered some warmth, but wind-over-water made it an active paddle with plenty of correction strokes required – or maybe that was just me?
Our initial journey was along open river with occasional bridges as we progressed north. Some of them were proper regular bridges and some of them just about scrapeunderable things. One of the easily passed under bridges seemed to us casual observers like a dilapidated old railway bridge but on google maps it is named as Elsie’s Bridge and gets a single five star review where KG describes it as the ‘Greatest bridge of my life <3’. There has to be a story there!
As we progressed north the river took on its narrower form and in time there was lots of work to be done to manoeuvre around trees that were partially, or in one case totally, blocking the river. It wasn’t quite ‘Apocalypse Now’ territory but it certainly wasn’t Cuckoo Corner-like and the tree blockage saw some inventive and unconventional techniques used to good effect.
We carried on past Isfield Church and arrived at Isfield Weir – our intended stopping and lunch point. Having argued about whether to stand in shelter (out of both the wind & sun) or in the open, (in both the wind and sun) we concluded that neither were particularly warm and we ought not to hang about!
Our journey South was aided by a not inconsiderable flow and making our way through the trees was great turning/steering/manoeuvring canoe experience. We made great speed back and the major hazard this time was the bright, bright low sun that gave zero visibility at times. This must have been why we passed the pub on our return leg without stopping L
We were back at the car park in what seemed like no time and all told we were probably on the water for about four and a half hours. Great teamwork got all of the boats back to the carpark and loaded on cars in pretty short order.
At the end there was a unanimous view that it had been a super duper paddle and that Cath had done a great job in arranging and leading it. Roll on the next one J
If you fancy joining the ‘secret’ canoe club trips then get yourself out on an open/canoe – start with green tides – and discover the joys of kneeling in a boat with a single blade paddle!