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