Archive for the ‘River Kayaking’ Category

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

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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!

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