Canoe Club visit the River Wye
24 Mar 2015
The Perse Canoe Club headed to the River Wye last weekend to practice their paddling skills. Elizabeth Stephenson in Year 10 wrote a report on her experiences. We hope you enjoy reading.
“On Friday, 19 members of Canoe Club descended on the River Wye for a weekend of paddling. We left school around 8:00 in the morning after waiting for the late members (no names mentioned…) to join us. The journey was uneventful, however when we arrived in Ross-on-Wye there was the slight problem of finding somewhere to park two minibuses and a van whilst we stopped to buy some lunch. Once everyone had been fed we headed towards our base for the weekend, the Ross-on-Wye Rowing Club. We rapidly set up the massive 18’x24’ canvas marque, an excellent incentive to get it up quickly was provided by the rain, and then our personal tents were pitched. After a brief from the coaches we got into our canoeing gear and spent the afternoon on the river, making sure that everything was in place for the journey the next day. A delicious dinner of bolognaise soon appeared courtesy of that evening’s cooks, and it even had parmesan which is a rare luxury not normally found on outdoor pursuits trips! This was followed by golden syrup cake and custard – a delicious end to the day!
Morning dawned a little overcast, muddy and freezing. Students met in the main tent at 8am where they were shortly greeted with an excellent cooked breakfast of bacon, sausages, tomatoes, scrambled eggs, baked beans and – not forgetting – the black pudding! Once this feast had been enjoyed we assembled our canoeing gear and discussed the day ahead – our journey day. Departing in two minibuses we arrived about five miles upstream of our base and began the downstream paddle with the less experienced paddlers in two canoes rafted together and the rest of us in doubles. For the first part of the journey we practised breaking in and out of eddies which involved using a bow rudder and edging the boat downstream the way you are breaking out. Shannon and I also tried out a running draw and George had an interesting encounter with a bush; fortunately both he and the bush remained intact. Bushes that are directly downstream form eddies are known as strainers; if you get caught in one and capsize then they essentially act like a strainer and will let the water through you!
Having played about in the eddies for quite a while we paddled more rapidly for the second part of our journey as we needed to gain some distance. We were joined in our swift paddle by some local wildlife – mainly swans – however we did also spot two other animals which I believe were a mink and an otter.
By 18:30 we had made it back to our camping field, albeit fairly exhausted but surprisingly dry! We devoured several packets of biscuits and hot chocolate before loading the canoes back onto the trailer once it had been shuttled back. To our intense relief the hot water held out in the rowing club and everyone appreciated a refreshing warm shower. If anyone was not warmed up by the showers then dinner certainly did the trick – it was a somewhat spicy chicken curry complete with naan bread. After a brief chat about the day and what we had learnt, the students crawled into their sleeping bags and swiftly fell asleep.
Our final morning began with the pack up of our personal kit and tents. After large quantities of fuelling porridge for breakfast, everything inside the marquee was meticulously arranged to fit in the van and then an impressive team effort managed to dismantle it in one of the shortest times I have seen! After a quick litter sweep in which we surveyed the copious amounts of mud left behind, we headed off to Symonds Yat which is a partially manmade short stretch of rapids. The plan was to navigate it in doubles, however due to the high level of the river, the less experienced paddlers needed to be in rafts with more experienced paddlers so we changed plans and took it together in rafts – which proved to be very fun and involved a fair amount of splashing! We paddled in our doubles downstream, to Monmouth where we met the minibuses and van. Packed lunches were enjoyed once the canoes had been strapped onto the trailer – we got quite good at this by the end of trip. Driving back was slightly more subdued than the way there, with a few Mother’s Day presents bought at the services!
Thanks go the Mr Parker, Suzanne, Neil, Bob, Jim and Paul for such a useful, jam-packed and fun trip.”