Paddle up the Mersey, Monday 15th June by Jill Barlow
I was one of the lucky ones who saw Keith’s email in time to snag two places on his trip up the Mersey. These days you need to get in there fast to join a paddle!
We met at 6.30 by the dock compound – Keith, Trevor, Roger, Derek, Helen and myself – and we launched our boats in the small river entrance across the road. It was a nice evening and the river looked enticing, though the wind was a little stronger than expected.
A few fishermen were on the quayside with their lines out, so we negotiated a passage alongside the wall to keep them happy and set off. I’m usually on a 34ft racing sailboat when I’m on the Mersey, so it was a little strange to be so close to the water!
We made good progress, thanks in part to the tide coming in, passing various landmarks including the Marina lock gate, the old dock warehouses and new office blocks. Further on, we passed the Britannia pub and the red bull statue in Otterspool Park.
People walking along the prom and on the beach called out or waved to us – guess they’re more used to seeing the large, impersonal tankers, not kayakers making their own way up the river!
The route we took was down the Garston channel – one of the two shipping channels which are dredged to provide enough depth for the larger boats coming in. The buoys are labelled G1-11, and those indicating the Eastham channel are E1-E7. They’re also used as racing marks by the racing fleets of the local yacht clubs.
Buoys & marks on the River Mersey (Courtesy of Royal Mersey Yacht Club)
The sky got slowly darker as we headed towards Garston docks, with the occasional threatening rumble of thunder. There were also two rainbows ahead, contrasting nicely with the dark grey clouds, but none of us could spot any pots of gold. We stayed closer to the shore for a safe haven if required but when the rain started, it was only gentle with no squalls.
We paddled beyond the docks, lined by old sandstone walls, and along the industrial estate to the start of the Speke and Garston Coastal Reserve, before turning back just ahead of the tide turning.
Cyclists and walkers on Otterspool prom called out to us again, with some taking photos – maybe it’ll result in more club members, or perhaps our photo in the Echo…
We were treated to a great sunset as we did the return trip, hardly noticing the soft rain. A very enjoyable trip, covering over 10 miles and allegedly using more than 980 calories – equivalent to 4¼ Mars bars!
Together with good company, it was a great way to spend a Monday evening.
More photos here…..
(NB the River Mersey Estuary needs ideal conditions and is subject to extremely fast tides, few landing opportunities and many commercial piers and pontoons).