Archive for the ‘Kayaking’ Category

A Review of 2017   18 comments

I’ve read quite a few blog post in the past few days reviewing other peoples 2017 exploits. I enjoyed them so much I thought I’d do the same. Good excuse to look back through my photos and remember what we got up to. At my age I need help remembering stuff!.

Acutely conscious of the modern trend for these awful “round robin” letters you get at Xmas (we get one of these smugograms every year) I tried to select photos that bring back a particular memory for me so its more a personal, family introspection on outdoorsy stuff, than a blow by blow account of the year. As its based on my photo collection if I didn’t photograph it, it ain’t here!

January

We started the year off in Tenerife and New Years Day was spent on this rather splendid beach (the earlier part of the day was in the mountains but I cocked up the photos from that part of the day!)

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Returning to the British winter, a walk along the Cats Back in the Black Mountains with TBF, memorable for a cloud inversion after a very wet morning. A reminder that despite our travels we are lucky to have some stunning scenery on our doorstep

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A solo day out in the Brecon Beacons, the first snowy walk near to home and pretty much the only one with significant snow during the early part of the year (made up for it at the end)

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A glorious day out in the Black Mountains with TJS and a cooked breakfast on a cold Table Mountain. I like this photo though as it has Mynydd Troed in centre shot, my very first mountain climbed when I was about 10

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And my usual skiing trip (only a weekend this year) to finish off the month. Snow was a bit rubbish but we had a laugh nonetheless

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February

Another solo day on Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons. I remember this day for a very mild Friday afternoon (16C) and snow in the mountains 18 hours later

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A short walk with TBF on Hatterall Hill

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March

The first weekend of the month is always spent in Scotland with friends of long standing. A new location at Bridge of Orchy and a two out of three days were magnificent winter days. The walk along this ridge high above Rannoch Moor on the first day was superb

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Me and TJS also managed a cheeky backpack into the Black Mountains. Straight from work on the Friday for a one nighter in my new tent. Need to do more of these this year

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2017 is the year I rediscovered cycling – mainly to help my knee and also to be less of a lazy layabout during the week. The Hardman – a VERY keen and VERY fit cyclist caught wind and insisted we meet up in the Peak for a trip along a couple of the old railway trails. A cracking sunny day and I survived cycling with the Hardman!

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And we finally managed a meet up in the Berwyns with Uncle Fester after a few aborted attempts

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April

More cycling and solo trip through the Brecon Beacons on the “Gap” route. Cycling to over 600m was a first for me and I started to feel that I almost, might, actually enjoy cycling.

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Easter and a major backpacking trip with TJS to the Cairngorms. The weather was wild and windy but we had a couple of superb wild camps and TJS bagged his first Scottish 4000 footer

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I even coaxed TJF out for a bike ride along the Brecon and Usk canal

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May Day weekend was mostly in April. Mixed weather but we had a fine gaggle of friends on a hike around Greendale, taking in Buckbarrow and Seatallan

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May

No finer way to celebrate a birthday than a lunchtime hike. This one was on one of my local hills, Bryn Arw with TBF

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Followed by a weekend away in Cornwall. It almost felt tropical on the white sands just north of Padstow on one of our walks

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Whitsun weekend was spent with our good friends in Silverdale. The Sunday was a real winner with a long but easy stroll and a fantastic pub lunch. Weather was mixed the rest of the time but great company, many laughs and a chance to relax

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June

A different walk from the usual mountains. One of the small hills that overlook Gloucester and across to the Cotswolds. Not something I’d do every day but a nice change

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One of the highlights of the year was the long-planned backpacking trip with the kids into the Howgills. Despite poor weather we gave it a go and it was a huge success. The kids really enjoyed the adventure and I’m hoping they have caught the wild camping bug

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July

After the backpack trip I was out of action for a few weeks recuperating and resting after a minor knee op. Didn’t affect my water based fun though, a nice albeit far too long trip down the river Wye

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By the end of July I was back in the hills again (the knee op has been a great success I’m pleased to say). A fine evening stroll with TBF and TJS on Ysgyryd Fawr (we even took a cheeky cold beer to drink on the top)

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Another “local walk for local people” – this time Garway Hill where we reached the top, saw this nasty storm approaching and raced it back to the car. We won.

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Late July brings the annual camping trip to Towyn Farm on the Llyn Peninsula. We packed in lots of walks and beach fun in a very mixed few days of weather. My abiding memory though was this game of Kubb which was huge fun with both adults and kids alike taking it far too seriously and larking about in equal measure. A happy afternoon

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August

The big family trip of the year, a rail trip around some of Europe’s finest cities. An real change from our usual outdoor camping trips and it was real success. We all took took to the city life rather well you might say. One of my best ever holidays. A few photos that made me smile

One of the many fountains in Paris (we called this one the fountain of throttled fish)

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A monster thunderstorm in Turin

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My favourite seafront walk in Venice

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The Colloseum in Rome – of course

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Schloss Belvedere in Vienna (courtesy of an unplanned extra couple of hours from a very late train)

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The thermal baths in Budapest – “like taking a bath in a wedding cake”

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A stroll along the Spree river in Berlin on a sunny Sunday afternoon

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And the railway bridge over the Rhine in Cologne

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September

Back to earth with a bump. A few days after the heat and sun of Europe we were walking in the Black Mountains in driving rain and cold winds!

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But there was still enough warm weather left for a round of the hills near the Talybont Reservoir in the Brecon Beacons

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October

A walk with friends in the Roaches on the dreariest day of the year (when everywhere else was sunny – I’m not bitter)

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More evidence of my new found cycling passion (probably too strong a word). A ride around the tracks of the New Forest while TJS took a look around Southampton University

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And why settle for one trip to see major cities when you can do it twice. As a special treat for TJS 18th Birthday we spent a week in Barcelona. Probably my favourite city but despite all its famous sights, this little known hill and its view overlooking the city was my favourite spot

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November

After sunshine comes the reality of winter. A couple of cold but beautiful days. One in the Black Mountains on the Sugar Loaf and Crug Mawr

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And one of my favourite walks in the Black Mountain

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A delayed birthday treat weekend for TBF saw us in Padstow for a couple of nice meals and walks along the Cornish coast and Dartmoor

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December

And last into the proper depths of winter. The first snows saw me and TJS head into the highest peaks of the Black Mountains

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The day after saw the biggest dump of snow I’ve seen in my own backyard for many a year. Walks around my village in deep snow under crisp blue skies were wonderful

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The start of the Xmas holidays is marked with an annual get together of my University friends and their families. Always great fun but this year we could climb the hills in snow (rather than wet rain) and play at snowballs

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Finally coming full circle with a return to the Canary Islands to spend Xmas in Lanzarote and Xmas Day sunning ourselves on the beach

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Well I enjoyed looking through my photos, choosing a few and reliving a great year. Hope you enjoyed it too. All the best for 2018 🙂

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Back with a Splash   14 comments

The enforced break is over and I’m back in action. Knee op went well and after a couple of weeks R&R I’m starting to head outdoors once more. A bike ride around the Forest of Dean and a short walk with TJS on a gloomy Friday evening proved I’m fit and able.

Time for some outdoor fun but there is more to life than boots and bikes. A long standing plan to kayak the river Wye having done many trips on French rivers. Having two cars makes this much easier and the Wye is very much the local. A route from Kerne Bridge via Symonds Yat and Monmouth to Redbrook was the plan

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Its a fine a leisurely way to spend a day. A little too leisurely as it turns out

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We passed by Welsh Bicknor YH and I rekindled memories of a stay there in my teens for a school history trip. We had to walk over the bridge in the photo below with all our stuff including food (which from memory consisted of many tins of beans). I was surprised to see the bridge in a very dangerous state and clearly closed. Its a very long walk in to the hostel at the moment

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A little further on near Yat Rock we pulled up for lunch (and a Funster snooze)

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Back on the river it began to dawn on me that it was quite a long way between Kerne Bridge and Redbrook. A very long way.

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I’ve become used to the relatively swift flow of rivers like the Tarn and the Dordogne in France. The Wye is like a lake in comparison so rather than letting the river do the work, we had to paddle pretty much the whole way

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Past the tourist haven of Symonds Yat and a short portage around the rapids. We should have just gone down on the water as they aren’t especially tough – a good deal easier than dragging a 3 person kayak 300 yards over slippery rocks

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Onwards through the Wye gorge and under the bouncy bridge at the Biblins campsite

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Its a very pretty stretch and very quiet. By this time however we were all feeling that we’d had enough of the river!

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The stretch to Monmouth seemed to take an eternity but at least the crowds had gathered to cheer us through – well they might have been there for the rowing regatta but I’ll take whatever I can get

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I was excited to pass under the bridge at Monmouth – seeing as I drive over a couple of times most days on my way to and from work.

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Its a mightily impressive structure

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At last we were on the home straight (after an involuntary dip trying to push the kayak over a shallow section)

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Finally the bridge at Redbrook came into view and we were done

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The pub on the opposite bank looked mighty tempting for a beer until I realised it was after 6pm and we’d been paddling for over 6 hours! Time to go home for tea 🙂

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A long day, probably too long – lesson learned – but great fun and a surprisingly tough workout that my arms are only just recovering from.

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Turns out it was almost 16 miles – hell of long way to paddle but easy on the knees at least

Two Men and a Kayak   2 comments

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As part of my efforts to keep active while not walking, a trip to the coast with GM to play in the surf with the kayaks was in order. Rest Bay near Porthcawl ticks all the boxes being close to home, easy parking, a short walk to the beach and great surf (and a great cafe with cookies to die for)

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A grey day so not much in the way of photos

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The surf forecast wasn’t great but as it turns out the waves were excellent. One of the best days in the surf I’ve had for a while

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A great day out and another where I finished the day tired, exercised and without knee pain although I did collect a few bruises for my trouble

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I didn’t have my Go Pro Camera so no video footage either. As a special treat a video from a couple of years back and a trip to Rest Bay in January – one of my better video edits. Enjoy

Posted November 7, 2016 by surfnslide in Kayaking, Surf Kayaking, Wales

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Touring through the Tarn – Downstream   5 comments

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Well if you visit the Gorges du Tarn you better spend a day floating down it. Rather than cycling back to the start, this time I took the easy way out and used the bus. Allowed a brief period to enjoy the views at La Malene

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We’ve done the down stream stretch from La Malene many times so this time we gave the upstream section a go from St Enemie, itself a very fine medieval village where we had lunch a few days before

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This stretch wasn’t as dramatic as the previous trips but it was a good deal quieter.

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An early stop for lunch was what was needed – it takes a while to drop off, drive to the far end and bus back

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It was warm and sunny but a little breezy, more than enough to deter the rather fickle Funsters from taking a dip. Water this cool and clear has to swum in my opinion so I had to take the waters alone

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I let the Funsters loose in the kayak without my guidance and they went round in circles for a few minutes before I took over control and ensured we continued our journey in the right direction

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A fine way to spend a sunny day, floating down a dramatic tree lined gorge, watching the world drift by

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One of the highlights is the village of St Chely du Tarn, perched on cliffs above the river with its own Tufa-lined waterfall

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Predictably I threatened to take the boat under the falls for a refreshing shower but thought better of it

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The Cirque de Pougnadoires is the drama highlight of this stretch but less so than Les Detroits and Cirque des Baumes on the lower stretch. Not too shabby though

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You have make time for plenty of stops to swim and soak up the sunshine. The Funsters are much better at that!

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The Chateau La Caze stands guard over the final long stretch back to La Malene

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A brief bit of fun trying to negotiate a very stony weir and a final swim at La Malene ended a superb day messing about in a boat

Vistas in the Verdon – Kayaking the Gorges   4 comments

Well, you lucky people now get two “kayaking on rivers in France” posts for the price of one. Aren’t you lucky

First off is one of the classic trips in the area into the western end of the Gorges du Verdon from where it enters the Lac de Sainte Croix

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We’ve done this many times before although on a rented pedalo. This normally involves a long queue and significant cost and this was the primary driver for the purchase of the new kayak (and pedalos are a little un-cool)

I had an idea that we could attach an inflatable to the back and tow TJF along and she loved the idea. As you can see she was in her element!

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Its a spectacular trip with the sheer walls of the gorge rising up over 1000 feet. In truth its less the Verdon river and more just an extension of the lake into the lower part of the gorge.

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There is still a current though and paddling a kayak upstream towing a dead-weight person in a large rubber ring is hard work!

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The views were as spectacular as ever and me and TJF enjoyed a swim halfway down where the cascade tumbles into the gorge

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Its very well known, with several places to rent water craft and extremely popular. Quite brash and noisy but well worth a couple of hours on a hot sunny day

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TBF took on the more challenging swim, half a mile back to the shore across the open water of the lake from the bridge

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Our second trip a couple of days later was down at the opposite end of the Lac de Sainte Croix. The lake itself I’ve overlooked in the past but as you can see from the photo below (taken from the roadside) and from later posts to come, its a wonderful spot.

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Our trip was along the Gorges de Baudinard from the Pont Sylvestre. The weather was stunning and the start point where the gorge opens out to a small lake and campsite was sublime

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Its still the Verdon river but its southern outflow from the Lac de Sainte Croix. Whilst not as deep or awe inspiring as the main gorge, its no less wonderful.

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After a short stretch of shallow gorge it opens out into medium sized lake (and a much easier place to launch than where we did)

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We had TJF in tow once more

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After passing through the lake its a long leisurely paddle back up to the dam at the end of the Lac de Sainte Croix. Being little known its much quieter and sedate than the main gorge. Just a handful of boats from the rental place at the campsite

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There are numerous overhangs and caves to explore

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As you reach the end the walls narrow dramatically and are dripping with lush foliage, terms and water. With water feeding in through the rocks and little sunlight the water is markedly colder than the lake

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Being the only one in the party who can control a kayak properly, I did threaten to take everyone under the dripping water for an ice cold shower. An ice cold look from TBF made me think better of it

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We returned back down the gorge to enjoy the views again

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You can’t float down a river this stunning and not take a dip in its cool, clear water. Or should I say cold, clear water. Even out in the open the water here was sharply cold, verging on freezing. We both took turns taking a swim. Once used to the temperature the swim was superb. The water was crystal clear and refreshing and the outside temperature still near 30C so easy to warm up. TBF after an initial shock loved the swim and again took a long stretch down the gorge

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Another big thank you to the “Wild Swimming” guide for finding us such a stunning and peaceful spot in the tourist mecca that is Provence. Well worth seeking out and one of my new favourite places

Down in the Dordogne – Kayaking in the Sun   6 comments

Of course the main draw of the Dordogne is the river itself and whilst the bridges, lanes and villages give you a feel for it, the best way to experience it is from on the water

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We’re experienced at this now having done the classic Dordogne trip twice (once on a glorious day and once in the rain). We’ve always hired kayaks before but this year I wanted a little more freedom so we bought our own inflatable kayak.

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This means you don’t have to pay out every time you want a trip and start and finish when and where you want. The downside is no free lift back to the start. It was left to yours truly to drive the car to far end and cycle 12 miles or so back to the start (in hot weather on a mainly busy road). Well worth it for extra freedom it gave us

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With all the to and fro we didn’t get started till lunchtime and not long after paddling off we stopped for lunch on one of the many beaches for a picnic and a swim. The Dordogne is justly popular and busy with kayakers but the atmosphere is still fairly peaceful and relaxed and there are numerous places like this to stop, relax and swim in the cool clear waters

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The photo above is our new toy, a Sevylor Alameda for anyone interested and very well it performed on several kayak outings. Despite being big enough to hold 3 people it only takes around 10-15 minutes to unbag and inflate. Its also pretty durable and survived numerous scrapes on beaches and rapids

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The river is slow moving so the pace is nice and easy. It passes some wonderful and classic Dordogne sites. This is the village of La Roque Gageac

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And in the distance is the Chateau de Castelnaud

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We pulled over for short stop, swim and cold drink, for it was a very hot day

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This is the impressive Beynac et Cazenac and its hilltop chateau

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We pulled up near where I’d left the car and took another final evening swim before heading back to the campsite. Much better under a clear blue sky than in the pouring rain!

Summer Holidays (2013!) – A Wrap Up   8 comments

Here we are, a New Year has dawned and as I sit listening to the rain battering the conservatory roof I’m still writing up posts from the summer 🙂

My final report from my summer holidays in France – a mixed bag of stuff that wasn’t worth a post of their own – a wrap up. The video compilation is below for those who prefer some music to my rambling words:

We took a little jaunt up to the Tour de Batere for a picnic lunch. Me and TJS did a walk from here last year

Tour de la Batere

Tour de Batere

The cloud socked in while we driving up there but it made a pleasant change from lunch by the house. It’s one of my favourite spots with the views enhanced by the presence of the ruined tower.

Tour de Batere

Tour de Batere

Me and TJS took a walk in the hills above the Gorges de Mondony. I’d spotted a peak called Roc de Saint Salvador that looked interesting and had a path marked to the top. The drive along the gorge was spectacular with the road hugging the cliff edges with precipitous drops.

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

TJS seems to have an unseen other-worldy power that influences my judgement to find the most overgrown paths and he did it again on this day.

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

The marked path simply wasn’t there and we spent an interesting hour on steep earthy slopes, overgrown with trees and prickly shrubs before we decided we’d been quite foolish enough. The summit we were heading for wasn’t getting much closer (from the brief glimpses we had through the undergrowth). Just as we were about to head back we emerged on a little open platform of rock with expansive views so we had a second breakfast and enjoyed the surrounds.

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

Gorge de Mondony, Roc de Saint Salvador

My efforts were further rewarded by the find of an old pair of sunglasses gathering dirt, dust and cobwebs that also provided evidence that I wasn’t alone in believing the paths marked on French IGN Maps. Mind you the kids think I look stupid in said sunglasses but they were free and I’m a prize tightskate so who cares.

After saying a farewell to our hosts at Can Galan we started the long journey home. We stopped off for a half a day of river fun at the Gorges de Verdouble. Great place for a swim and picnic although well-known and pretty busy

Verdouble River

Verdouble River

Verdouble River

Verdouble River

Verdouble River

I wrote up in more detail when we visited last year

And that was about it. We stopped off in the Dordogne for a couple of days. We visited the Chateau de Bonaguil but I left my camera in the car (last years visit here), and took another day out kayaking on the Dordogne. It was cloudy and the hire shop was strangely deserted (it’s a popular pastime). An hour into the journey I worked out why. Everyone else had checked the weather forecast. It started to rain. Heavily. Really heavily. Kayaking in the rain with the family is not much fun but worse was sitting around in the pishing rain waiting for the bus to take us back. Not exactly an ideal day and unsurprisingly no photos. You can check out our trip last year to what a fantastic trip this should be.

On our final day before heading home we relaxed by the river for a couple of hours (these are the only photos I took in the Dordogne!) before a nice lunch and an afternoon of more tree climbing adventures.

Dordogne, Castelnaud

Dordogne, Castelnaud

No photos (forgot camera again) but I can say this course was well hard – we were exhausted when we finished but in good spirits. A fine and fitting end to great trip.

Now, what I have been doing for the past 4 months…..

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