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Thread: Downcreek Lapwing

  1. #1
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    Default Downcreek Lapwing

    Earlier in the summer, I decided to treat myself to a new Ottertail paddle. It came down to a choice between a Downcreek or an Edenwood. And then circumstances conspired, happily, to mean that it was no longer pick one, but have both. So I am now the happy owner of two lovely paddles, but the Edenwood is currently living in France having been despatched there for my Butler to take up to Sweden for me. So this is a review of the Downcreek, which I have now used for quite a few trips. I shall review the lovely Edenwood when I am reunited with it, but it is also a really great paddle.

    I first came across Downcreek paddles through SOTP, and through a few messages with Jude about a Big Meet a couple of years back. Not making that meet, it was some time before I actually got my hands on one, but when I did, getting a chance to borrow a few for a few minutes, I was struck by the quality.

    A large proportion of my paddling is on stillwater or open water. Here I have come to love the feel of an ottertail blade. I've been using a Grey Owl Guide for a few years now, and have found it pleasant enough to use. In fact, I'd never really thought about upgrading before, but having been trying a few other blades recently, when I had the means I knew I wanted to get a better blade.

    Jude got wind of this through comments I'd made on Facebook I think, and was soon on the phone to discuss what would suit me. Its clear he is completely passionate about his work, and committed to making sure his customers are very happy, and thus I would definitely recommend having a chat with him as he will help steer you onto the perfect blade for you.



    Downcreek Lapwing


    Anyway, I decided on the Lapwing, in cherry and walnut. I also plumped for having my name added as a "signature". Being made to order, there is a lead time, but it wasn't long at all before a long, thin cardboard package arrived at work, to cries of "what's he bought now" from my bemused colleagues who are used to a strange mix of paddling and outdoor gear arriving at my desk. Unwrapping it was like opening presents at Christmas as a child. I was very pleased with how it looked.

    I was going to wait for the weekend, but couldn't, and a couple of mornings later found me out on Shoreham harbour very early for a quick play, despite the tide not being right. I loved it - details below. I was excited enough to ring Jude, probably still eating his breakfast, to let him know I liked it!


    Looks

    There are some products that need to both work well, and look beautiful. Paddles are one of these. And here, the Lapwing shines out, it really is a beautiful paddle to look at.












    The "signature" personalises the paddle, and makes it unique. I wasn't quite sure about having my name on a paddle at first, but am glad I did. You could also add on your favourite saying (if short!) or SOTP name or something.













    In the hand


    On picking it up, the first thing that strikes you is the lack of weight. The shaft is quite slim, but this works for my smallish hands well. The balance point feels spot on.
    The grip on mine is quite small, which suits me perfectly, but you could have a slightly bigger one if you have larger hands. Obviously Jude will make the shaft length exactly as long as you want it (not just the lengths on the website), something I'd recommend you to get straight in your head before ordering, but again Jude is happy to advise.
    All this means that in some ways, the paddle feels quite delicate, certainly compared with my Grey Owl.







    In the water


    So, what's it like in use? Well, fantastic! Despite the delicate feel of the slim shaft and smallish grip, there is plenty of stiffness. In fact, it transfers power remarkably well to the water, unexpectedly so. I genuinely feel I am travelling at a faster pace despite putting in no more effort. It feels like you could keep going all day at a good pace...and so it has proved. There is just enough flex to ease some of the pressure on your joints, I don't seem to tire at all. When on an open loch with a bit of wind to fight, I often switch to the spooned carbon blade I have, but with the Lapwing, I don't think I'll have to do this as often, it has plenty of power.

    At the same time, you really feel in touch with what's going on, there is loads of feel, the shaft communicates what's going on in the water really well. Going back to the Grey Owl Guide from it, the old paddles feels dead & clumsy in comparison, and that's actually a pretty reasonable blade. Playing around, spinning the boat etc, the Lapwing is the first wooden blade I've had that really seems to sit still in one place as you rotate torso and canoe around the spot in which its anchored.

    When it comes to slicing, as you would expect from a quality ottertail, the blade moves smoothly and quietly through the water, a joy to use.


    I am now totally sold on owning a quality paddle like this. Its not cheap, but if you paddle often, such as I am fortunate to do, it is well worth the money for the sheer pleasure using it will bring you.

    It will be interesting comparing the Edenwood Ottertail with it once it gets back to Blighty (or I get to France), a paddle I enjoyed using immensely in Sweden, but the Downcreek Lapwing is absolutely my "go to" blade now, I can't wait to use it again soon.

  2. #2
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    Jul 2012
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    Default

    Great review Mal............of a great looking paddle............from a great company
    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    A cracking review of a beautiful paddle. I'm also a proud owner of a Downcreek paddle so I know where you are coming from, they very quickly become your go to blade.

    I wish you many happy trips together.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

  4. #4
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    Apr 2009
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    I've been carrying a collection of Downcreek paddles around all year for use as "demo" paddles - mostly giving those who've never handled such items an opportunity to find out for themselves what a bit of quality feels like!


    This was at the Open Canoe Festival...




    I've used all of them quite extensively.... and you've chosen the one I'd recommend to most canoeists. The blade's shorter than on the Heron and Kingfisher... with the widest point higher than on the Dippers... and both traits aid balance and versatility. That said, I also like my Heron, and Jörg's Swan... and I particularly adore the two (differently sized) Junor blades we've got - the two Little Egrets


    By laminating different woods, Downcreek have the opportunity to get the most from different timbers. Get the mix right and you can get the best of all worlds: strength where you want it for stiffness, key weight savings to get the balance right. Jude can even add a resin tip to take impacts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    I shall review the lovely Edenwood when I am reunited with it, but it is also a really great paddle
    Another excellent choice. Tim's offerings stand comparison with the best one-timber paddles I've ever handled. They knock spots of Shaw and Tenney: better balance, better finish and better "feel" - real gems

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Default

    Fantastic review - I have a Kingfisher and absolutely love it. It really suits (and improves) my paddling style. I was flipping between the Downcreek & Edenwood paddles and the old have loved to have been able to get both.

    Many happy paddles!

    Sent from my SGP611 using Tapatalk
    Death is natures way of telling you to slow down.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2010
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    Another happy Downcreek customer. I have the Swan in laminated walnut. It's a joy to use and to look at
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

  7. #7
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    Been resisting one of these for some time now..... Thanks for not helping.... It makes me very happy when I see something as lovely and functional as that!
    Cheers,

    Alan


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Oxfordshire
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    Great review Mal.

    The first time Liz and I tried the Downcreek paddles (Bala 2014) we knew it was time for a change. As you say they are fabulous to paddle with, balanced and surprisingly stiff given the size of the shaft.

    We tried out several and ordered ours that weekend. An Avoset for Liz and a Kingfisher for me. The Kingfisher looked and felt perfect for my paddling style and the "Algonquin" grip was something I wanted as I like using the Northwoods stroke when paddling.

    I've never tried an Edenwood but I'm sure both makes will be equally satisfying to paddle with.
    Bootstrap
    There's no such thing as inclement weather - you're just incorrectly dressed

  9. #9

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    Many thanks for the fantastic review Mal...I am really glad your Lapwing has hit the spot...and I feel much better now about talking you into ordering one!
    I'd also like to say thanks for the subsequent kind words & testimonies from other owners...never mind making our day, it's made our week!
    We sweat every detail of our paddles and are always keen to know how they are faring out in the world...feedback like this is just fantastic, most encouraging and very much appreciated.
    Thanks & Regards
    Jude
    As the waters live & breathe upon which we are borne,
    So too do the woods from which our paddles find form.


    www.downcreekpaddles.com

  10. #10
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    Nice review Mal.

    Jude -you seem to be earning a reputation...a well earnt one at that I suspect (not often so many members on here can agree on something )

    I'll be back on the water soon...and trying to prize that tatty old stick out of Mal's hands for a little test paddle (plllllleeeeeeaaaaassssseeee Mal )
    If I could only paddle like a doggie oughta paddle

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by BaldMan Jump View Post
    Jude -you seem to be earning a reputation...a well earnt one at that I suspect (not often so many members on here can agree on something )
    Thanks, we really try to make sure that customers get the right paddle...it is of utmost importance to us that the buyer is not disappointed and is happy with their purchase...there's enough underwhelming "stuff" out there these days!
    As the waters live & breathe upon which we are borne,
    So too do the woods from which our paddles find form.


    www.downcreekpaddles.com

  12. #12
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    Apr 2011
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    SW France
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    Based on Mals rantings in Sweden and then a test paddle using Paul's Swan the other day, I can only confirm what has been said ... I'm now pursuing the acquisition of my very own.

    I have an Edenwood too which is stunning paddle and served me well in Sweden. It is a more delicate paddle than the one I tried though it is a very different style so that isn't surprising. Initially I was a bit worried about the weight of Pauls Swan but the balance and feel of the downcreek was perfect and I was very impressed indeed with it (hence the hasty email to Jude). I think the range of paddles that are offered is excellent and based on what I felt with the Swan, if they are all as good as the one I tried, they are worth every penny. It is hard to describe the difference a paddle of this sort gives above even the best factory ones I've had.

    Mal, I'll have to figure out how to get the Edenwood back to you when I finally get home. May consider a UK trip but it'll be a while.

    We are lucky to have these guys (Tim and Jude) making these things for us. Xmas is coming you know, I'm sure there is an excuse there somewhere.

    ps. The little person now wants one too. I'm beginning to wonder if the Sweden en famille trip was a good idea :-)
    Last edited by MarkL; 15th-October-2015 at 08:52 AM.
    MarkL
    www.canoemassifcentral.com
    Canoe outfitting packages in the Massif Central


  13. #13
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    I can only reiterate what Mal has said about Jude's paddles. A couple of years ago I met Jude at Bala but had just had Tim at Edhnwood make me a beautiful otter tail in curly cherry so whilst tempted by Jude's wares did not buy. Time passed.

    I made contact with Jude in August this year and we started discussing paddles. I had just got my new Swift canoe which was trimmed in cherry and with any new canoe, I wanted a paddle to compliment it. At Loch Ken Big meet I was passed by Big Al a paddle bag containing a whole selection of Judes demo paddles. Over a few days at Loch Ken I tried the whole range but kept snaffling one of the demo paddles with which I had developed an affinity. It was a Heron. I don't know why but it just felt right. On my return I placed an order for a "hybrid" Heron in cherry and walnut. Jude will advise and make you what you want. I chose a hybrid which had the old style Northwoods grip as it adds a degree of flexibility to a days paddling. I also went long with a 66" paddle some 4" longer than i usually use.

    Last week the package arrived at the office It became apparent that I would need a longer paddle sack.



    For comparison I took out my glorious Edenwood cherry otter tail paddle.











    As you can see, two completely different but beautiful paddles. I paddled with the DC Heron for the first hour; boy it shifts the water and is a powerful paddle but balanced and fine. I made good progress. I swapped to the shorter otter tail which has finesse but less power. Both cut the water beautifully especially as I like doing the Indian stroke. The Heron has the right amount of stiffness in the blade and shaft and I soon learnt to let the paddle do the work rather than applying brute force. I settled into a good stroke rhythm.

    The Heron is beautifully made and finished with the grain matched very nicely. I had my name written on it to help identification and ownership as these paddles will be tried by others. The extra length makes a real difference and allows you to get the paddle deep.

    All in all a great purchase with some beautiful craftsmanship. I paid £175 for the Heron and £200 for the Edenwood otter tail which was a special piece of curly cherry. Quality costs but when you look at these paddles and contemplate the work which has gone into them they are not expensive.

    Not only do I need a longer paddle sack but with 10 paddles I now need to extend the hanging rack. Top tip- hang your paddles up else they will warp and bend. Dry them, oil them, stroke them and care for them and they will care for you!
    Get Paddling!

    Blott

  14. #14

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    Thanks Nick! Very glad to hear that you & your "Heron-King" are getting on well. Kind words, great photos and some sage advice to finish.
    As the waters live & breathe upon which we are borne,
    So too do the woods from which our paddles find form.


    www.downcreekpaddles.com

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Bangor, Co Down.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownCreekPaddles View Post
    Thanks Nick! Very glad to hear that you & your "Heron-King" are getting on well. Kind words, great photos and some sage advice to finish.
    "Heron-King"..........I like that.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

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