Tale of Two Paddles – Trevor Strain and Jill Barlow
We’ve enjoyed two paddling trips recently in contrasting locations, both with good weather. On May 27th we spent a day paddling almost 14 miles from Farndon to Sandy Lane (via Chester Weir) in an open boat on the River Dee. The other was an 8 mile trip on 1st June, organised by Ian Bell along with Sharon, Kris and Martin – up the River Mersey from New Brighton, returning with a loop round the lighthouse. The Heineken effect was experienced in both trips, affecting muscles not reached by any other form of exercise!
It’s interesting to compare the trips – one of the rivers separates Liverpool and the Wirral and the other marks the boundary between England and Wales. We were aware that the English – Welsh border runs along the Dee and there are different lockdown arrangements for each. Just after setting off, we saw a guy waiting in a kayak on the English side of the river with a radio. We wondered whether he might be from ‘Border Control’, but he just waved and smiled as we passed.
There were no such concerns on the Mersey – just the need to avoid the ferries and tankers that regularly travel up and down, whilst appreciating the resultant wash. (NB the River Mersey Estuary needs ideal conditions and is subject to extremely fast tides, few landing opportunities and many commercial piers and pontoons).
Both trips included interesting buildings – on the Mersey, there’s the world-famous skyline of Liverpool’s waterfront plus the Wallasey promenade, and the Perch Rock lighthouse marking the transition of the Mersey into the sea.
On the Dee, there are some intriguing dwellings including log cabins and caravans with various outbuildings. Many had solar panels, wind turbines and a manual or electronic pulley system for river access for boats – ‘The Good Life’ on water. Also some more traditionally-built brick houses – presumably where the Margos and Jerrys live.
We saw more wildlife on the River Dee, with lots of birds and many bright blue dragonflies flying close to the water. We saw a lot of fish jumping out of the water to catch midges and there were many holes along the banks – maybe where otters and voles live. Anyone remember “Tales of the Riverbank?” On the Mersey, there were some lesser-striped jet-skiers with their own distinctive buzz, as well as various dogs running along the promenade and jumping in the sea.
There’s no doubt that being prevented from paddling for a couple of months is a great way to remind us of how much we enjoy it and the variety of locations within easy reach.
Thanks to Kris for the Mersey pics