Hurley (with a couple of swims)

Saturday saw yet another enjoyable session at Hurley. The level was a low three gates, where the middle one was particulary flushy and tricky to stay on.

Dave tearing up the wave

Chris enjoying his first Hurley session in a yearem>

Paul concentrating hard

Me making it into the middle gate

Whilst out of my boat taking photos, I look into the eddy for Dave only to see him being rescued further down the wave train!

Dave post swim

Was this a swim for Paul? 😉

By hitting Hurley on Saturday, I have managed to keep up my paddling effort this year. I have still only not paddled on three weekends so far this year! I feel that this may change this weekend, however, as I help Chris, a friend from uni, celebrate his commissioning from Sandhurst at the legendary Sandhurst Commissioning Ball.

Doing well…

I am trying to do as much paddling as possible this year. As things stand, I have managed to get out on a river on all but three weekends so far this year.

I managed to keep with with tradition this weekend just gone (29/30th March) and had a great session on a 3-gate Hurley on sunny Sunday afternoon with Ricky.  A fair amount of the session was dedicated to some “King of the wave” contests, which saw the two of us either trying to simultaneously surf the same gate, or trying to knock each other out of the gate. Highly entertaining to do and apparently also highly entertaining to watch!

Looking across at the weir as we got on

Trying to bounce my boat out of the water onto the weir sill

A cold Easter…

Shepperton in the sunshine

Saturday morning saw an early-ish start for Amy and I, having arranged to meet Ricky, Emma, Dave and Martyn in Ivybridge at 0900 to do the Erme. The level looked low, but runnable so we decided it was a goer and got on. It turned out to be more of a scrape than we had thought and the first section of the trip was a tiring bump and scrape. As the gradient increased, the level of enjoyment did as well. The Erme gorge was a stunning paddle through a very narrow section of the river.

Entrance to Erme gorge
Looking upstream from below the first rapid in the Erme gorge

I can imagine that it must be a crazy undertaking in high water. Part way down the gorge was a tree crossing one of the rapids. Ricky and myself managed to pass the tree without any incident but Amy did not quite manage to. Getting well and truly pinned, looking skyward, she was unable to un-pin herself.

Amy parked on the tree

After ensuring that we had photos and video footage of the pin, Martyn went in to her rescue. The rest of the gorge went without incident and everyone managed the final rapid into town.

The final rapid in the middle of Ivybridge

As we had managed to get down the river in good time Martyn, Dave, Amy and myself set off to the Upper Dart for a quick run. It was also at a low level, but was an enjoyable run, even-more-so for Dave and Amy for whom it was their first time down this section. As we were getting on, the snow started to fall! The run down to Newbridge took 2 hours in total.

Dave on the Upper Dart

Amy looking up at Surprise Surprise, Upper Dart

Saturday night saw Martyn, Amy and me camping in the garden of Ricky’s parents house. We did manage to make it out for a few beers towards the end of the night, and Ricky even managed to get lots of attention from a particular woman in the pub who was celebrating her 30th Birthday…. you were well in there Rick!!!

Our day started slowly on Sunday as we waited for the rain that fell during the night to make a difference to the water levels on Dartmoor. Ricky, Martyn and I ended up getting on the Upper Dart at about half-past four on Sunday afternoon with the levels looking about the same as on Saturday, much to our dismay. It turned out we were wrong and the level was slightly higher, which wasn’t noticeable until we were midway through some of the rapids. Ricky had not paddled this section of river since he was learning to paddle, about 15 years previously. Back then he was not allowed to run Euthanasia as it was deemed to dangerous for them. The highlight of our day was Martyn and then myself paddling over the lip of Euthanasia falls with only a brief, inconspicuous, look at what was below to ensure that it was ok to run. Ricky swiftly followed us and the look on his face as he rolled up would make a good picture. It was a mixture of massive grin and surprise as he said that he didn’t remember anything like that on the river from before. We explained that it was in fact Euthanasia falls, and he had just run it effectively blind!

Looking back at Euthanasia from below

The rest of the river went without incident, although needless to say we all missed the little flare ledge in Surprise Surprise and ended up going straight down the middle of the slot, as we had done the day before! This time we managed to paddle down to Newbridge in 1hr 15minutes, which is a new record for us.

Looking back up at Surprise Surprise

I have put together a little video from the weekend, which can be seen below: