French Alps 2018 paddling trip Day 14 The Lower Gyronde by Mark Benson

French Alps 2018 paddling trip

Day 14 The Lower Gyronde by Mark Benson

Sometimes it rains on the last evening before departure homeward. It is inconvenient for packing up and (this year) BBQ cooking. Yet, at the back of some people’s mind, mine included, is one good thought; the Gyronde will be rising.

Saturday morning then, six of us have put packing aside, plus John Cooke who is kindly driving us up to the put-in at the start of the Lower Gyronde grade 3 section. The Gyronde has indeed risen, covering most of the rocks and promising a fast run through small stoppers and over and around the larger boulders, down to join the Durance for the final run back to the campsite.

Keith, Sara, Hannah and Michael put on below the bridge. Ron and I, squeezing every moment out of the river, seal launch in from just above. Giving each other a little room, we head off into the mist that blankets the river, helter-skelter through the frothing white-water.

Very soon, we are at the weir.  Normally a portage, it seems different. The leftmost route to the normal portage point is choked with boulders and gravel. Ron and Keith lead us to an eddy just above the weir on river right. Keith scouts and guides us to a narrow line over the right hand of weir.

Now the river eases a little, still fast flowing but a little more open as it joins the Durance at L’Argentiere.

The Durance is also high enough to cover most of the shallows in this part of the river but gets considerably higher once re-joined by run-off from the power station. The river thunders into the slalom course and we follow Keith down, using the slalom gates as a guide to the line. In the midst of punching through a haystack and skirting a pour-over, I can just imagine Keith comparing it with the Sun Khosi (unfavourably, of course).  Following Sara and Hannah into an eddy halfway down, I pause to gather my thoughts.  Almost immediately, there is excitement above; “swimmer!”.  Ron is out of his boat. Soon Keith, Sara and Michael are in hot pursuit of Ron and his gear. Following down, Hannah and I arrive in the bottom eddy just in time to find Sara helping Ron from the water. Ron safe and reunited with his kayak and paddle, our paddling is finally over for this year’s French Alps trip.

Somehow, ending on a high like that, my kayak seems lighter as I carry it back into the campsite.

More photographs……….


French Alps 2018 paddling trip Day 12 The Middle Guil by Gareth Jones

French Alps 2018 paddling trip

Day 12 The Middle Guil by Gareth Jones

We arrived at ‘Montbardon Bridge’, unloaded the boats, got out kit together and got on the water. Once on the water we organised ourselves into about four groups. Keith called me over to his group along with Dom, Hannah and Sara. Once we had our group together we set off down.

The introduction to the Middle Guil from our get on provided a gentle warmup with a few large boulders to avoid but, otherwise it was a straight forward introduction with an opportunity to observe the impressive scenery that towered over us on both sides. At fairly regular intervals the river started to present more technical sections that started to redirect my gaze from the scenery to the challenges presented to us by the river (staying in the boat, upright).

As we approached a bend in the river with a small drop through some boulders we tried to keep river left. One paddler took an interesting, more central line. Watching the extra effort required to get through this route caused me to get stuck broad side to the flow. The stern on one rock and the bow on another. Inexperienced showed as I sat there for what felt like minute before I sussed a way out that didn’t involve getting wet.

A little later a similar section flipped a kayaker. Out went the call, ‘swimmer’. The swimmer got themselves and the paddle out of the water promptly whilst other paddlers made themselves safe and/or useful for the rescue. Keith chased the boat down the river and others tracked down the bank to help remove the boat from the water. Once paddler and gear were reunited we continued downstream.

At a large eddy the group pulled in and waited for all the other groups to arrive. The ‘Surprise Drop’ lay ahead. Most entered the eddy conventionally, some showed off (eddying upside down and then rolling) and some simply floated past with boat in one hand and paddle in the other.

Once all safely in boats and secure the drop was discussed.

1. Paddle straight through the drop
2. Keep river right
3. Eddy out river right

So, we were sent down one at a time after Keith had bobbed down to observe and provide safety. When I came to go down I put too big a stroke in at the top lining up and neatly slid down sideways, somehow bypassing the stopper and bobbing safely into the eddy (lucky).

Once everyone was down a number of us got out before the next more involved section. We climbed out of the river and sat on the roadside wondering how the adventure continued for the rest of the team.

A great, sunny days paddle with awesome views along the way.

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French Alps 2018 paddling trip Day 13 The Durance 39km by the Murphy’s

French Alps 2018 paddling trip

Day 13 The Durance 39km by the Murphy’s

Campsite to St Clements Slalom Course

19 paddlers set out from the campsite at 10:30 some with sore heads after a long night in Briancon. The first stretch of our journey to Embrum was relatively calm except from one incident involving Mark Benson being pinned up against a rock without his paddle; it took a very big effort from Keith to pull him free. We journeyed on to St Clements with only one swimmer who got caught in a wave after attempting to play in it. Once we reached the slalom course some stayed to play on the waves while others had a well deserved lunch break.


St Clements to Rabouix Wave

After we had our lunch we headed off for Rabouix Wave (Raby Wave). Along the way we came to a small cliff where Steve, Chris, Ollie  & I (Charlie) jumped off, whilst John and Kieran seal launched off the cliff. At Raby Wave we stopped at an eddy just before it. Keith went down first to set up cover for us. At one point Steve went down before Keith signalled for him to come so he had to eddy out and wait for Keith to tell him to come down. Mike hit a rock before the wave but managed to roll up just in time to run Raby successfully. Nick, unintentionally hit the same rock that flipped mike over but somehow managed to survive after sitting on top of it for a few seconds. I followed Ollie down with my dad behind me videoing.  I went slightly to the right of Ollie which stopped me from hitting him as he tried to roll up after a  capsize on the Rab. We only had one swimmer and a few rollers on the Rabouix Wave.


Rab to Embrun

We left the Rab wave behind us and set off for Embrun. We had also left Charlie as well as he was off to play crazy Golf with his mum down at the get out at Embrun lake. Our final stretch of river contained a few very bouncy wave trains and a couple of rapids but nothing that posed any problems for intrepid group. The highlights of this last section were a triple roll from Dom just for the camera and John showing off so much with his paddle twirling that he decided to dispense with them altogether at one point. He nearly paid the price as he entered a wave sideways with nothing to aid him except his wit and good looks!

After we had a battled a headwind for a couple of hours we eventually reached the get out in Embrun. A quick refuelling at the Intermarche followed and then we made our way back to the campsite to hopefully fire up the traditional B-B-Q in the rain.


More photographs……….


French Alps 2018 paddling trip Day 12 Lower Guil by Sarah Jones

French Alps 2018 paddling trip

Day 12 Lower Guil by Sarah Jones

We had an earliest start at 8am and the get in wasn`t far away. It was going to be a busy day with 3 sections of the river to do. I was told it was an easy paddle with good views but still felt a little nervous getting on the water. We got in at Eygliers Bridge, spitting into 4 groups of 4 or 5 people. I was in the last group with Keith , Sara and Ron. Thy all helped guide me down the river, catching some eddies on the way.

In between the trickier sections we had a chance to admire the views, a high waterfall, Mont Dauphin Fort, tall pillars of conglomerate rock and high cliffs. There were no dramas on the river and after about 7km we arrived at Eygliers Bridge to get out and onto the next section. I did really enjoy this section of the river and to my relief I didn’t swim. It is one river to put on my list for next time.

More photographs……….


French Alps 2018 paddling trip Day 11 Glacier Blanc by Jane Sheehan

French Alps 2018 paddling trip

Day 11 Glacier Blanc by Jane Sheehan

Before the crack of noon (7am) we all set off to Pré de Madame Carle with the intention of walking up a mountain to see a glacier.

There were 12 of us, Keith, Sara, Hanna

h and Mike, Gareth and Sarah, Ciaran, Trevor, Stuart, Nick, John and Jane. The early start was to allow us to ascend and descend avoiding the hottest part of the day. As it happened, we were lucky with the weather – it was overcast and very welcome at that.

Glacier trev
Trevor with the valley below

Le Pré de madame Carle is situated at the heart of the Massif des Écrins at the foot of Mount Pelvoux. There are two glaciers, Noir (black) and Blanc (white). We aimed for the Glacier Blanc. It’s become a favourite spot for climbers and walkers alike since the Refuge Cézanne was built and the stone road was sorted in 1934 to allow visitors to save several hours of walking from the bottom of the valley.


It is a two and a half hour walk with several options to stop. First stop is at a bridge, two hours in (see photo) the second stop was at a refuge and the third was at the glacier itself.

Those who had been before recommended hats, sunscreen, a lightweight shell and suitable footwear.

One of the highlights was to see a Marmot.

Keith and Sara stopped for lunch at the bridge. Trevor and I met Sarah at the lake before the refuge and everyone else made it to the refuge where unlike us sandwich munchers, they were able to purchase a fine omelette and a glass of something refreshing. Mike and Hannah made it to the Glacier but Ciaran and Gareth took a wrong turn and ended up higher than the glacier! That might be why they were last back!

By the time Ciaran and Gareth returned, they found us all at the restaurant at the foot of the mountain. A great day out and all returned tired but happy.

Ciaran and Gareth arriving behind Trevor at restaurant

More photographs……….

Glacier Blanc is on the east side of Barre Des Ecrins the southernmost of the 4000 m peaks in the Alps. It is the largest glacier on the peak. The glacier began a sustained retreat after 1870, that ceased in 1895-1900 , 1915-1920, 1935-1940 and 1980-1990 (Cossart et al, 2006). The glacier had a mass loss of 11 m from 1981-2005 (Rabatel et al, 2008), which is 5-10% of the total glacier volume. The series of images below are used to examine the retreat over the last 10 years of Glacier Blanc. The first image is a 2008











Performance Awards – News from British Canoeing

Performance Awards

British Canoeing has today announced the launch of the NEW Personal Performance Awards to encourage paddlers to develop their skills and safety on the water, in the craft and environment of their choice.

The Personal Performance Awards are designed for paddlers wanting to gain recognition of their learning and development, in the craft and environment they choose.

The process of completing the awards is based on learning and, as such, the ethos of ‘supporting the paddler’ is the main focus of all the awards, encouraging individuals in their personal development.

The new Personal Performance Awards include:

  • Paddle Awards: Three introductory awards – Start, Discover, Explore – that are designed for those new to paddlesport
  • Discipline Specific Awards: 12 pathways comprising three awards which enables paddlers to choose the environment, craft and paddle sport discipline that is right for them

British Canoeing is delighted to be announcing the NEW Personal Performance Awards that will replace the existing ‘Star Awards’ from January 2019. The development of the NEW awards has been an exciting project with many paddlers involved in creating Personal Performance Awards for paddlers, as well as people new to paddlesport. This is such an exciting time for British Canoeing to have awards that are paddler focused, develops confidence, decision making and skills in a craft and environment that the individual chooses.

– Lee Pooley, Head of Coaching and Qualifications at British Canoeing

  • Paddler focused
  • Leaders and Bell Boat Helms will be able to provide awards
  • Ppa Logo No WordsNo dual discipline awards
  • Five new disciplines including Stand Up Paddleboard, Polo, Racing, Rafting and Slalom
  • Direct entry to ALL awards
  • No age restrictions
  • Personal Performance Awards without formal leadership

Over the coming months, British Canoeing will roll out the awards by completing the following milestones:

  • Autumn 2018: British Canoeing will launch the content of the awards
  • Autumn 2018: British Canoeing Awarding Body will launch the Provider eLearning to support the delivery of the awards
  • January 2019: Personal Performance Awards will be available throughout the UK

Further updates will be promoted via the British Canoeing website and the ‘Catch up with Coaching’ newsletter. Read our follow up news articles for further details:

French Alps 2018 paddling trip Day 10 Upper Guisane by Nick Coughlin

French Alps 2018 paddling trip

Day 10 Upper Guisane by Nick Coughlin

Twenty-two intrepid LCC paddlers set off at the leisurely time of 10am to tackle the Upper Guisane. The Guisane is one of my favourite rivers and this was the second time we had paddled it in the past seven days. It is a pretty fast flowing river going through pine woodland and then eventually through the village of Le Casset.

We left a couple of less experienced paddlers lower down the river and split into four groups of five to do the first part. Our group had a fairly uneventful first part, but we passed Dom after about 200m and he seemed to have got out of his boat to check the hydraulics. The level was slightly lower than last week so there was a lot of avoiding or bouncing off rocks which did cause a few mishaps.

Forty minutes later we arrived at S-Bends and all got out of the river to prepare to tackle the rapid. Some of the group decided to walk around and so set off on the path. The rest of us then split into groups of three and Graham, Keith and Kirk positioned themselves at different points to provide some safety cover. I was in the first group with Helen and Keiran. As usual Helen set off like Tim Brabant hurtling down at top speed, Keiran and I tried to stick together. Unfortunately, Keiran`s faulty boat forced him to abandon ship halfway down, but he managed to get to the side [which incidentally is never more than 2m away] I managed to get his boat and sent it over to Hannah and Mike on the opposite side. Keiran was soon re-united with his boat and we set off down the river. Most of the rest of the group got back on here and we all continued paddling. A little further we picked up Sarah and Charlie and headed towards the village. There was a little bit of trouble at a tricky weir but when we were all back in our boats we carried on. I like the part through the village and always look out for a large globe on an outdoor shelf which I first spotted Four years ago.

After a few bouncy wave trains and a few small features, the river begins to level out just before the get out. We normally get out and sit on the grass in the sun, eating our lunches and waiting for Keith to do the bike shuttle. Unfortunately, there was a change in the weather so it wasn`t as nice as last week but it still didn`t spoil a day on one of my favourite rivers.

More photographs……….

French Alps 2018 paddling trip Day 9 The Ubaye Race Course by Steve Hitchen

French Alps 2018 paddling trip

Day 9 The Ubaye Race Course by Steve Hitchen

An early start for LCC saw us setting off just after the bread delivery at 8am. With a second quick pit stop for pastries we were underway. The drive takes us along the Durance which runs past our camp site. We reach the lake at Embrun then head up the mountain on a switch back road giving us stunning views.

We all put in on the upper Ubaye at Jausiers which is the grade 3- section. The river is perfect for newer paddlers and offers great practice for the rest. The paddle took around an hour and all paddlers had a wonderful time. The sun was blazing and the water warm. The Ubaye is a great river and after lunch it got even better.

After lunch we headed for one of the finest white water stretches of river this paddler has ever been on, the Ubaye race course which is grade 3-4. Or Ebay as a few called it. With features from the start it was nonstop fun.

20 of us set off split into groups of 5.

A Grade 3 rapid to start. Followed by la Salle à Manger, a grade 4 rapid. With slow moving sections which let you catch your breath in between. 3 more featured rapids followed at grades 4 & 3+ before flushing out under the stunning Roman Bridge. A few swimmers and a few rolled back up. This author managed his first river roll!

If you come to paddle in this part of the alps this river is a must. Possible to paddle twice in one day LCC opted for beer and chips at the lake adjacent to the get out. With tales of the spills and thrills of the Ubaye Race course.

More photographs……….

French Alps 2018 paddling trip Day 9 The Upper Ubaye by Ciaran Fahey

French Alps 2018 paddling trip

Day 9 The Upper Ubaye by Ciaran Fahey

Earliest start of the trip so far for the clubs 2018 Alps trip, at an on the bus time of 8am. The destination for today’s trip was the Upper Ubaye a grade 3, despite the early start the long drive to the river resulted in getting on at 10am, a slightly later time the planned due to the placement of a boulder in the usual get on point. So, instead of a quick jump into the boats they had to be lowered down a steep embankment and herded across a small stream to the river. This wasn’t a total inconvenience as we got a good view of Fort De Nournoux built in 1843 into the cliff face above the river.

We split into the groups of 5’s for this river led by Keith, Helen, Kirk and mine was led by the Silver Fox, John. We had a fun bouncy journey down this river as even though it looked low there was still ample water in the main channel. The run has more than a few class 3 rapids including long wave trains that the whole group bounced down. During this enjoyable run we took the opportunity to practice frequent eddy hopping and even a good bit of surfing. I even got a few tips from the club’s playboating coach Graham on how to ride a wave for longer durations. Unfortunately, I got a bit carried away surfing and got caught sideways with water gushing over my hip and forcing me over, luckily there was enough room for a quick role up again.

The final stretch of the river had an interesting section with several boulders across the river to avoid. At the get out we climbed out of our boats some less graceful than other as my dad Dominic crashed into the water on his back as his boat floated an extra 6 foot down the river from him before being rescued. After the boats were all loaded up we headed ff to the second rver of the day the infamous Ubaye racecourse.

More photographs……….


Polo Practice Session run by Richie

Polo Practice Session run by Richie

On Saturday I went to canoe polo practice organised by Richie. There were not many people there, probably due to the rain, but we still went ahead with it with only 4 people (Callum, Luke, John and myself). We first did some passing around and then did some dribbling for a bit and throwing. At the end we did a whole game with many other people from the club who were in white-water boats and we even had open canoes taking part! At the end our team won in a “next goal wins” and we scored in 10 seconds after they said that.  A huge thanks to Richie for running the practice even though after 3 hours I was shattered it was great fun.

Aleksander Ford


Liverpool Canoe Club is open to all and aims "to provide the maximum canoeing and kayaking opportunities for all its members"