Did someone mention the ‘s’ word?

He was doing so well. He had managed to go eight weeks into the new year without one. He had done a bit of paddling over the eight weeks and had managed to avoid doing it. Then there was today’s trip to Hurely…

What am I talking about? Swimming. And who was doing the swimming? Martyn.

Martyn about to swim
It was this move that lead to Martyn’s swim!

As well as Martyn demonstrating how to swim, there were some great moves being thrown today.

Icy hangover cure

Saturday night was spent enjoying a charity ball at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Before the wine started flowing

The night started off gently but that all changed when we hit the wine. Things went even more downhill when Chris decided it was a good idea to start on the Port.

Many empty glasses of port
Many empty glasses of Port

The best bit was that the girls thought they it was wine and were then shocked at firstly having to down it and secondly realising as they did so that it was not wine!

Needless-to-say Sunday started slowly. After a much needed fry-up it was off to Hurley where I met up with Muppet and Anne-Marie – eventually. I arrived at Hurley not long after they had left Birmingham so I had a much needed nap whilst waiting for them to arrive. The sun was shining in a cloudless sky. As it was still February that meant that the weather was freezing. Whilst getting changed ready to get on, I found the water still in my boat from last week’s trip to Devon had frozen, and the sponge in the boat was frozen solid…. it was going be a cold session!!

Hurley in the sunshine

I still believe that the best hangover cure is a quick dip in freezing cold water – it kind of shocks the body into snapping out of its ill state. Unfortunately I forgot that all this actually does is delay the hangover temporarily; by the end of the session I was feeling extremely ill!

Hurley was on a fantastic low 3 gate level, with the middle gate producing some sweet rides.

Me riding the middle gate
Riding the middle gate

As the hangover came back, my paddling ability seemed to plummet!

Me screwing up
Upside down in freezing cold water…. you would have thought that I would have learnt not to do that by now!

Right at the end of the session, Anne-Marie decided had decided that she was getting too warm and was in need of a dip. I wouldn’t wish swimming in water that cold on anyone! A quick rescue was in order before heading back to the car park to defrost.

Fun in the sun – a low-water weekend in Devon

Last weekend saw the uni club trip to Devon. There were a few things amiss with the weekend though. To start with, accommodation was booked in Somerset (Northcombe barn, Dulverton)!

On Saturday, the club took its first trip down the Barle from Tarr Steps to Dulverton. Whilst the levels were low, it proved to be a worthwhile trip for those whose first river trip it was. All was going well until we arrived at the weir in Dulverton. Chris managed to end up pinned on his side part way down the weir and had to be helped off. At the bottom, he immediately capsized but waited for the t-rescue.

Chris pinned part way down the weir

Taking him downstream to a bigger eddy, he capsized again, this time knocking his chin on a rock and cutting it leading to a swim. We got him and the boat out of the water swiftly, but in the confusion that followed managed to lose his paddles. As we were sorting Chris out in the bank, Claire’s boat was drifting downstream upside down with a Will Wilson jumping into the river after it. After getting the boat out onto the bank, we wondered up to discover that carnage had been let lose! Emma P had managed to drift into a strainer and been pinned with her boat underwater under the tree. Andy Riding got out of his boat to help her and as he did so, his boat started to drift off. Claire grabbed onto Andy’s boat and managed to drift into a different tree. Will was helping her out of her boat when her boat had drifted off! Everyone else managed to get down the weir without incident and paddled the final few hundred metres down to the get-out in town.

Sunday saw everyone head off down to the Upper Dart. Alex, James, Joe, Nick and myself had a cracking low-water run down the Middle Dart

The run down the Upper Dart was highly enjoyable for those who paddled it, even though the low water meant that it was very technical.

We found a few horizons lines before getting to Euthanasia Falls

The view downstream from the top of Euthanasia Falls

Looking back up at at Euthanasia Falls

I ran the falls first and went for a roll in the hole at the bottom, but Nick managed to take the most interesting line down the falls.

Nick’s interesting line

Alex running Euthanasia Falls

Joe running Euthanasia Falls

James running Euthanasia Falls

From Euthanasia picked up the pace a bit in order to get to the end with enough time to get the rest of the group down the Middle Dart section. We were held up slightly at Surprise Surprise, but the decision not to inspect it from the bank saved us some time. Everyone made it down safely, with only Joe requiring a roll at the bottom. There is one part of the Upper that I don’t like – and that is the paddle out from Surprise Surprise to Newbridge. It is about a kilometre of grade 3 rapids, but just seems to take forever!

Some of the rest of the group at Newbridge

The run down the Middle Dart was uneventful. The low water conditions meant that none of the group were particularly challenged by it. Time was spent enjoying the seal launch and the majority of the group decided to do the bridge jump at the end as well. I have now done it quite a few times and still don’t like the feeling of the split second of free-fall!

Overall, a great weekend was had by all.