Saturday morning at 10:30am a small group of six LCC members met at the Runcorn Rowing Club to paddle the stretch of the Weaver Navigation up to the Dutton Locks. It was a hive of activity at the rowing club as boats were loaded onto trailers for an away meeting.
We weaved our way through the group carrying our kayaks to the launching pontoon with greetings being exchanged. It was a leisurely two hour trip to the locks so with a stop for lunch we were looking at returning at around 4pm. With everyone safely on the water we were off. Three sea kayaks, and three crossover kayaks made the two hour trip in decent weather. We had no rain and little wind. Arriving at the little landing point Phil tied all the boats together and we left them floating in a colourful little group on the water whilst we all headed to the picnic tables up ahead.The table was soon covered with sandwiches, biscuits, chocolate fudge cake and jam and “dirty custard donuts.” It was a welcome break.
The weather had turned quite chilly now and so the group headed back. We usually make a trip around to the sluice gates before heading back but today we gave them a miss. The return trip was done at the same leisurely pace although we did encounter some strong wind in places which made it a little longer than the two hours. Despite our little group being a bit out of practice having not padded much distance over the winter months we managed the 10 mile trip quite comfortably.
Irene Jackson, Jim Duffy, Phil Edwards, Bob & Sue Hamilton and John Fay
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We were up for tea and coffee at 6am followed by a massive breakfast at 7am – fruit salad with granola, scrambled, egg, fried veg, toast and a selection of peanut butter, jam and marmalade (which also came out every lunch time with salt, pepper, ketchup and chilli sauce). Drinking water had been prepared over night for us to fill our water bottles with a choice of squash. With the camp packed up and the rafts loaded by 8.30am we were told the line as we went straight into the first named rapid of the trip. The big holes were relatively easy to avoid and we were soon all safely down and playing in the bottom wave while waiting for the rafts to catch up. Then, while the vultures circled overhead we set off down the river. The scenery was great and the water was getting bigger as we paddled up to a new rapid formed by a recent avalanche which will now be known as ‘Keep Right or Get Munched’. We paddled for about 3.5hrs until lunch – plenty of biscuits, bread, beans, coleslaw, spaghetti in a dressing and oranges. We continued for another couple of hours before setting up camp and tucking into prawn crackers and hot drinks. Just before dinner (veg curry) was a rain storm so the guides quickly assembled shelters from oars and tarps. After dinner we sat out by the campfire used to burn the rubbish from the last 2 days before heading off to bed. While collecting wood the guides also put rocks on our tent pegs, they could tell a few squalls might pass us while the odd rumble of thunder could be heard some distance away. With more rain overnight the river lived up to its name and was turned gold by morning with the runoff soil from upstream. After the first full day on the river we'd covered nearly 20 miles and had an introduction to the friendly local villagers, some big water (along with the first few swims) and it was big smiles all round.
We were off at 5.30am in 3 taxis racing through Kathmandu to the Paddle Nepal bus. Slightly over shooting our driver doubled back straight into the on coming traffic with a honk of the horn…pretty standard driving for Kathmandu! The bus was quickly loaded and then we were off on the first bouncy ride of the holiday, climbing out of Kathmandu past the Buddha on the hill. After about 3hrs we made a breakfast stop. Sugary coffee/spicy tea, boiled egg and a spicy chickpea mix self assembled in a wrap. Finished off with a sugary donut – yum! On we went through little villages to the get in, which required some off roading by the bus down a rather steep makeshift slope. The kit was unloaded and the rafts assembled with the bus’ roof racks suddenly turning into the centre pieces to take the oars. While we changed the driver took the opportunity to wash the bus in the river, where he parked to keep the tyres cool. We paddled off and were soon through a couple of wave trains, which at this point in the holiday felt quite big. After an hour we stopped for lunch and had our lesson in the rigorous hand and dish washing procedure. Biscuits went round while the loaves were sliced, coleslaw was freshly prepared and beans were served with bananas and the choice of orange or lemon squash to follow. We had a few more hours paddling through tiny villages and bouncy wave trains where we saw monkeys on the bank and vultures in the air, before arriving at camp – nicely positioned at the top of what looked like quite an intimidating rapid known as Meat Grinder. We were shown how to put up our tents while dinner was prepared. A spicy popcorn starter followed by mountains of spag bol was very welcome. Soon after sunset at 7pm we had an early night falling asleep to the sound of the rapid that awaited us in the morning.
I wasn’t able to join Kris’s Mersey trip last month so decided to do my own on Easter Day. Having checked with Mersey VTS before starting to cross the channel, an incoming vessel bound for Gladston Dock raised an objection so I had to return to the East side. With a Spring Tide in full flow, staying put wasn’t going to be easy but there was a convenient eddy just by the big red cranes. Eventually I made it across to the Wirral side but it was a frustating 15 minutes with all that free energy being wasted.
My target was the cafe at Eastham Ferry but there was no easy exit there so I continued to Eastham Lock where the Ship Canal starts. The entrance lock is huge, I’ve never seen anything like it. Lunch was taken on some stepped banking nearby.
With the tide having turned, it was a quick ride home. I followed the Eastham markers first then crossed to the Garston side for a different perpective on our familiar stamping ground. Drifting along with the tide is a great way to see Liverpool seafront close up.
Mersey VTS was working well; it was reassuring to hear my presence being announced to any relevant traffic. On returning to Blundellsands, the shoreline had turned to gooey silt. Fine for the birds but it was a messy process for me to gain firm ground. Crosby Lifeguards were patrolling nearby so I called them for guidance as to the best route up the beach.
As Kris said, this estuary needs to be paddled more 🙂