Having spotted the Dove Tour in the meetings, trips and socials section I really fancied it based upon all the great comments about it. Original plan was to drive down some time on Saturday, camp and then paddle on Sunday.
Jimmyads found a great local campsite that looked perfect; fires, hammocks etc. all welcome! Regrettably it was closed due to fields being too wet and boggy. A contingency campsite was found of which more later.
Arrived at the start for the shuttle, here's a pic of people getting ready to go...
It occurred to me that if I was going to drive down on Saturday lunch I might as well set off earlier and do the Saturday paddle - which I did.
I hooked up with the group from Hinckley Canoe Club who very kindly adopted me for the day. It was great to have their company but also, it may be Grade 1 flat water but it was good to know there was support available if it all went belly up!
We had a most enjoyable paddle down to the first weir, it was windy but manageable. I was really nervous about the first weir and was struggling to set up for the chute which is more or less essential for open boats, especially fibreglass ones. The wind was blowing me off line but some timely advice from a great paddler got me on track and I hit the chute and successfully ran the weir. Well pleased!
There were a lot of novice paddlers in the various groups and there were a few capsize incidents generally caused by strainers - none of them became major fortunately.
At about 9 miles in you get to weir number 2, a broken weir with a wide central chute dropping down 4 or 5 feet to a standing wave about half the height of the weir. Fast and fun - took on some water and loved it. Here is a picture of Dave Clarke from Hinckley CC bouncing out of the standing wave ...
Not much more than a mile later is the final weir. This, according to all the advice, was the easiest and could be shot anywhere. Indeed, that proved to be the case for everyone else regardless of what boat they were paddling - not for me though! I launched off the weir on river left and capsized in the blink of an eye. It turns out that there is step off the weir on river left that caused my Apache to be suspended between bow and stern... oh dear. The boat remained up right and I found myself standing in 2 foot of water. Not too bad I thought. I put my hand up to signal I was ok, too a step forward to retrieve my boat and dropped off the weir into very deep water... swim time! Got away with all but ego intact and finished the days paddling tired but happy.
It was a 30 minute drive to the campsite at The Cross Inn. It's hard to find anything good to say about it really. Overpriced and uninspiring is probably the kindest thing I could say. Jimmyads arrived shortly after me - great to put another face to a name - and after bemoaning the state of the site we got on with completing our pitch and getting some food on. My palatial accommodation...
I'll leave it to jimmads to fill in the details if he wants to but the pitch was waterlogged, uneven, next to a busy road, it was raining and the wind was getting up. On the plus side we had food, beer & whiskey aplenty.
We went for a pint at a more appealing pub a few miles away before returning to find a darts competition in full swing. Couple of drinks there and then back to the cars for a mini whiskey tasting... Perfick!
Day 2 of the Tour dawned dry, windy with alarmingly strong gusts. "We're high up, it'll be calmer down in the valley", we optimistically said to each other! We were wrong. We left the the campsite early and headed out to the start to be ready early and cook a quick bacon butty. Not the full english I promised jimmads but needs must...
With shuttle complete we met up with pottypaddler, per and others whos SotP names have already escaped me. Sigh. The river was up by quite a few inches from the previous day and the flow was much stronger.
We made our way to weir 1. It was a real slog. The wind was gusting really strongly and which made it a real workout! None of us fancied a go at the weir, the set up was tricky with the cross-wind. Many did though, and were mainly successful as shown in the following two videos.
How to do it..
How not to do it!
Here's PP and Anne at the lunchstop...
Weir 2 was bigger, faster and funner. The wind died down a bit for the 2nd half of the paddle and everyone felt a bit happier about it with a couple of notable exceptions where we were blown all over the place. Weir 3 was uneventful as we went for the right hand side that lacked the awkward step on the left. Here's a video of James making it look easy...
After that - it was plain paddling to the exit. I finally got back to Leeds at about 6pm, very tired but well satisfied with a great couple of days that was not (for me, at least) spoiled by the weather - most of all, I got to meet some great people and look forward to paddling with you all again soon! Please share any reflection you have on the trip!!!
Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk