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Thread: Downcreek Lapwing & Kingfisher

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Western Lake District

    Default Downcreek Lapwing & Kingfisher

    Ive been looking for a new paddle as my current one is showing its age (20 years+) and Id rather retire it gracefully and hang it on the wall rather than it fail and have to be binned. As usual, a post on SoTP brought some interesting comments.

    As mentioned on that thread, Jude from Downcreek kindly lent me two paddles to try out on a Scottish paddling weekend a 58 Lapwing (Caribbean Walnut) and a 64 Kingfisher (American Cherry & Walnut). I was delighted at the thought of trying the Ottertail (Lapwing) as that was my preferred design of choice but also intrigued to try the Algonquin (Kingfisher) style which would be a new experience. The paddles were delivered by my father in law who was looking after the kids to allow us to get off paddling.

    L-R Grey Owl Voyageur, Downcreek Lapwing & Kingfisher, my current handmade paddle

    Initial impressions when they arrived was that they were absolutely stunning! Incredibly well made and so light to hold. The paddles had been oiled prior to delivery and this made the wood colour & grain stand out the craftsmanship was obvious as well as the choice of woods both in terms of cut / grain and contrasting colours.

    The Lapwing

    Really easy to paddle with and despite being slightly too short for me, was a delight to use both tandem as well as solo with a bit more effort for required solo due to the length. The blade sliced through the water easily and J-strokes were efficient. Paddling solo and using both Indian and Canadian strokes, the paddle return through the water offered little resistance and it didnt feel like you were forcing the paddle to do anything. Mrs Maxi used this on our paddle weekend for 10+ hours and her only criticism was the shape of the handle - we're not sure yet if this was a size thing or just different to what she is used to. They offer a slim grip which would probably be a better fit for females or those with slightly smaller hands.

    Lapwing wet

    The Kingfisher

    My first time using this style of paddle and after 10 minutes or so, it just felt natural to use. Like the Lapwing, the blade cuts easily through the water on the return stroke and there is no reason to lift it clear of the water as it offers so little resistance. There is enough flex in the blade that you can feel it but not so much that it causes any issues or concerns. The only issue I had was that the throat developed a small flutter & associated water noise on the return stroke - however, I had been advised of this beforehand as the design has already been changed to eliminate this. I used this paddle for about 10 hours over the weekend and even after a slog across a windy Loch, I didn't feel tired from using the paddle.

    The paddle design allows you to use these standing which was interesting (due to the wind). Not sure I'd do this too often but may be useful when trying to scout ahead or see what's beyond the next drop.

    Kingfisher used standing

    Lapwing & Kingfisher blades

    So overall, these are very nice to paddle with and are aesthetically pleasing to look at, which is always a good combination. Having spoken to Jude a few times, I would have no issues buying paddles from this relatively unknown maker - they are keen canoeists and already have a pedigree making handmade furniture, so paddles are a natural progression.

    Unfortunately, Mrs Maxi has told me I'm not allowed to buy one. However, I'm allowed to buy two, apparently !
    Death is natures way of telling you to slow down.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006


    I liked the look of the Kingfisher when I first saw it and thanks to your review MP I like it even more now.
    Problem is I have some perfectly good Greyowls which are not quite ready for replacement and I can't quite justify spending the money right now.
    There's no such thing as inclement weather - you're just incorrectly dressed

  3. #3


    Hi MaxiP,
    Thank you for your kind words regarding our paddles. The circumstances allowing us to send you paddles to sample were very fortunate. I would love for everyone to see/try before they consider to buy, but it just isn't possible or practical. We currently have Demo paddles available through the Tollymore Centre near Newcastle, Co. Down, and also at the Share Village centre near Lisnaskea, Co. Fermanagh. I am hoping to get some more Demo paddles further afield & closer to home (North Down/ Belfast area) in the near future. Plans are also afoot to take the range on tour, so keep an eye out for us at upcoming Paddlefests. North South Marine in Lisnaskea hosts a display stand of our full range and also has some paddles for sale.
    I would just like to reiterate that the Kingfisher paddle that MaxiP has reviewed was one of our older developmental models. We went through a couple of "generations" of design, eliminating minor niggles & perfecting key features. Every element from grip to tip has been hard fought & sweated over. All models & designs underwent rigorous testing to enable us to arrive at the range we now offer. A paddle appears to many to be a relatively simple tool, but in reality a really good ones isn't. It is a fine balancing act of several key, and seemingly opposing factors. Flexibility & stiffness, dexterity & strength, lightness & durability and comfort & power are all desireable...never mind perfect fit & the good looks! So many people make do with an off-the-shelf best-fit item, when really a paddle is such a personal thing that every serious canoeist should consider the benefits & feel the difference of a custom made one.
    It is always going to be difficult for a new company to make room for themselves among long established brands and that gaining favour & trust will take time. I know that once our paddles are out there making their way in the world, they will sell themselves. The proof is in the paddlin', not just the lookin'!
    I look forward to selecting the timbers, assembling and carving the paddles when your decisions are made MaxiP, it is just the packaging & posting I can wait for as its always hard to let them go!
    Downcreek Paddles
    As the waters live & breathe upon which we are borne,
    So too do the woods from which our paddles find form.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Northern Ireland


    Hi guys,

    Spotted the thread, and been meaning to write something down for a while.
    So here goes.

    I first bumped into Downcreek paddles when they knocked on the door after spotting my boats from their workshop, the nicest fellas you could ever deal with.

    We chatted back and forward for a while about my ideal paddle, and I managed to borrow some of their demo paddles whilst working towards my level 2 coach award.
    One of the big attractions of the company to me is their love of woods, and in particular for some of the native woods that they work with. I love the idea that woods for which we were once so well known can be used instead of something from thousands of miles across an ocean.

    Anyway, finally I had Jude make me a dipper traditional beavertail, and he had saved me some of his guest wood English cherry for the task. The finished product is absolutely beautiful.
    As with everything, health and work have gotten in the way of regular paddling, but on the outings I've managed, the paddle outperforms everything I could imagine.
    I like paddling with a shorter paddle than most, and Jude was able to create me a paddle that fits me perfectly.
    My faithful grey owl sagamore is now left tucked away as a spare.

    The dipper has a great mix of lightness and flexibility, a delight to paddle with all day, I try to maintain a high cadence with my paddling and the blade area suits this style well, moving back to the sagamore feels like real hard work.

    Unfortunately not many photos exist due to the wet nature of the particular sunshine we get so much of in Ireland, but I'll get a few photos up of the next outing.
    Here's the best so far:
    I started this trip tandem, the day was pretty stunning although we had a beam wind for the majority of the trip, my partner had to hop out halfway to get back to work so I had a great opportunity to paddle solo for a few miles.

    Hope to see you on the water

    Last edited by owenmcauley; 13th-June-2014 at 10:48 PM.

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