Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Goodbye Chris

Some pictures of Chris enjoying a classic Mawdach and Gain river weekend in North Wales.

Goodbye Chris, we will miss you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dartmoor Boating

Had a great days boating on Sunday with good levels in the South West... Highlight was either the Plym in good water, or the Dart well over the ledge... No photos from the Dart, as Chris didn't hang around long enough to take photos..... Paddlers Chris W, Kev and Jim Green.

Jim was a Plym virgin, and I had only paddled it in dog low levels about 10 years ago. Kev and Chris were Plym regulars, so was good to have them along to show us the lines... Well we tried to keep up with Chris anyway.....

Monday, September 21, 2009


Just back from the amazing Romaine river in Quebec. This is an amazing wilderness run that holds dozens of high volume classy rapids. Only access is by floatplane, which drops you 130 miles from the nearest road, After the Magpie river a few years ago we got the taste for multi-day high volume runs, and the Romaine is similar. Large drops, interspersed by short, or not quite so short pools.
Our team consisted of 3 uk boaters, (myself, Mark G and Kevin), Jay (from all over) and Max and Eric from the US. All except Jay had been on our Magpie trip.

(Kev had let his toenails grow on this trip)

The weather started off all too well. Bright and sunny, we even got a bit sunburnt by the end of the second day... The Third day started to get cloudy. Just after lunch on Midday Max probed a large sliding drop, and popped his shoulder out, swimming a nasty runout through some rocky channels. Unfortunately his boat never made it out.... Together will all his food and camping gear.... An afternoon spent trying to retrieve the boat was not rewarded with anything except rain that night.

In the morning we decided Max should hike out down the river.. We knew there were Dam construction sites along the river, and hoped we could reach one soon... It had also got quite cold. We were much faster than Max when we were on the river, so decided he had to come with us, rather than us wait for him... So we rafted up and floated him down the river whenever possible. We covered alot of distance, but not as fast as if we'd been boating normally....

Nearly two days of this, and we see signs of activity... Helicopters ferrying loads to the dam sites...A short chat later, and we have arranged Max a flight out of the river...

Almost straight after this, the big rapids begin again... High volume drops of all types... The drops kept coming for the next two days, then some long flats until the new bridge site and Grandes Chutes... One quick portage later, and many blueberries, we were at the end of the whitewater... We hoped to sprint to the takeout that night, but the portage had slowed us, and the evenings were dark early...

The next morning, after the coldest night on the river, we persisted downriver into a stiff headwind.... We tookout at the first trail we could find, and headed south to the road.... 2 hrs later we were discovered by some gruff hunters, who warmed to us, and towed our boats to the floatplane base... We were out!!!!.

(The Roche River falls, nearby)

Monday, May 11, 2009

The new improved HPP!

A couple of friends and I headed to Nottingham for the new and improved HPP, eager to see what modifications they had made to the course.
We weren't disapointed! All the old favorite spots remain, and they have created several new ones.

The inlet wave remains as good as it always was.... Shame some of the kids take 5 minutes for each bloody ride

A new hole has been created below the inlet wave, above where the cheese block used to be. Theres great eddies to get back up to this hole. Theres a small feisty pour over just below this too. The cheese block is now gone, but that was no real loss...

The hole under the bridge seems a bit deeper now, and seemed to give much better rides now.

The old looping pool wave is very fast and not very stable, and you can't really stay on. There is a vicious recirculating eddy river right. River left eddy seems pretty similar to how it was.
Plughole seems the same, Muncher too. Seems like its deeper in the muncher now, and they've made a great eddy on river right of the muncher so you now can get back on if you blow off river right (as I always do).
Note the new eddy in the foreground....

The bottom of the course has had some major surgery too... Below the Muncher, a small wall is built, only allowing a small amount of water to rejoin the return route back up to the main muncher eddy. You can pull yourself over this wall easily.

Down below here, one of the best new features.... Instead of the island, there is a nice sticky hole. Probably now the stickiest spot on the course. The hole is a little grabby, but theres a good tongue on each side to escape
Nice eddies allow good repeat runs.... then down to the final hole.

This used to be pretty unpleasant, but is now much improved. A couple of tongues now seem to have made the hole a bit more wavy and great fun.

Unfortunately, no conveyor belt to take you back to the top, but you can't have everything!!. The new HPP is definitely a place I'll be spending more time. A couple of the spots could do with a little tuning, but hopefully the modular layout will allow this, and improve what is already so much better than it was....

And if that wasn't enough, Hooters is pretty close. (The only Hooters in the UK). All you can eat wings for 7 quid on Monday nights!

More biking

LLandegla is our local biking centre. The normal route is a 20 mile circuit, with a mix of single track, and forest roads. Theres also a couple of man made obstacles, and boardwalks.

It can get pretty busy, and theres a good chance of someone breathing down your neck on some of the longer sections..

Dunstall Park is the Wolverhampton horse racing track. A work evening out took us there recently, where we had a great night out... Cheryl even picked a couple of winners!!

We'll definitely be going back for another night at the races!

Some friends biked the entire South Downs way last summer... It was raining, and I'm a fair weather biker (much rather be boating), so missed out it.... Part of the route runs through Queen Elizabeth country park, so we thought we'd check out the biking there, in preparation for a potential South Downs Way trip this summer.

QE park has some nice routes, but they are pretty short, maybe only 3 miles.... Looking forward to doing the South Downs way this summer though!!! 

Still no rain

With no water in sight, we decided to do some Easter Weekend hiking in Snowdonia. It was a first ascent of Snowdon via Crib Goch for Cheryl and Paul, and I convinced them that it was a nice easy walk.......

I think they didn't know what they were letting themselves in for.

Its a fantastic scenic scramble, definitely requiring good balance and some handwork in places... The Easter crowds had mainly chosen the easier routes so it wasn't too busy, and we had great weather for one of the most scenic climbs around.....

The crowds at the top!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lake district low water desperation boating

We had a visit to the Lakes scheduled long in advance, surely something would be running in mid Feb, prime UK boating season....
Well no... Pretty much everything in the Lakes was dry, so it was the fallback option ... The mighty Kent!!!
The lowest I have ever paddled it, it was a bit scratchy in places, but all the gorges were worthwhile, and was probably the only place in the lakes that had any water.
Cheryl and I were joined by Goodsy and Jonny Laud... Good to see Goodsy has 'retired' the Queen Mary......

Heading into the first Gorge below Prizet bridge

The first slot

The upper gorge

Force Falls.....

So the river was low, but at least it was paddling, and hopefully the next time we're up there we'll catch it at more classic levels...

Snowboarding in Tignes

Suffering a lack of the white stuff, we headed out to Tignes in the French alps. Luckily plenty of snow had fallen just prior to our arrival!!! Tignes has a great reputation for off piste, and it didn't dissapoint.

The view from the Hotel was just stunning...

Beautiful hidden valley gorge run.

Andy finds the only tree on the mountain....

Miles and miles of Open snowfields and glaciers, and onlya few draglifts.

Park action from Cheryl

Some serious off piste, and exploration.... Huge mountains to explore... Thanks Andy and Steve for joining Cheryl and Simon!!