Back to Holidays
Trent Aug 2013
Wye Aug 2013
Trent July 2013
Derwent Apr 2013
Severn Aug 2012
Derwent July 2012
Severn July 2011
Trent June 2011
Trent May 2011
Derwent April 2011
Severn June 2010
Severn May 2010
Severn May 2009
Soar May 2009
Wye Aug 2008
Severn Aug 2008
Trent July 2008
Derwent July 2008
Trent June 2008
Trent June 2008
Severn Sept 2007
Ardeche and Gorges du Tarn 2006
River Orb May 2005
Gorges du Tarn 2001
River Wye 2000
River Orb June 1998
Wye May 1987
Trent April 1987
Trent April 1987
Soar March 1987
Wye Sept 1986
Wye May 1986
Canoe Holidays and Trips
Trent from Twyford - Aug 2013.
Sunday 18th - Over to Trent Lock for 9:45, meet Thierry and Heather. We then all drive in my car to Twyford. The pump for the inflatable has a leak. On the water for about 11:15. We take a 20 litre water container to ballast the wooden canoe. Thierry and Heather are fine in the canoe. It is quite windy, mostly in our favour, put the umbrella to good use. Stop for one at the Crewe and Harpur, Thierry is amazed that we are only a quarter of the way. Arrive at Trent Lock for 5:15pm. Have one in the Trent Lock and then me and Thierry go and fetch my car. Eat outside, home for 9pm.
Wye from Hay - Aug 2013.
Friday 2nd - Get up early and set off for Hay on Wye. Go down the M50 and cross the Wye at Ross. Head to Hereford and cut off on the B4348 and B4349 and into Hay. Drive to the private "Paddles and Pedals" launch site first and he tells us where the public launching site is. The car park is very busy. Load up the canoe and under way. The boat feels heavy to start with, my arms are tired. Stop at the Boat Inn for one. Sit outside in the sunshine. Canoe past the Turners Boat camp site without even noticing it. We start seriously looking for a place at about 6pm. The Sat Nav reveals that Byecross farm is only about another two miles so we decide to push on. The canoe goes very well in the calm of the evening. Annette does the BBQ, has to use the Trangia to actually cook the meat. I go and buy a bag of wood for £3, kiln dried. We hear a loud commotion as some people canoe past, pissed at 10:30pm.
Saturday 3rd - Up before 8am, breakfast of sausage and bacon and away by 9am. We are helped down to the water by some of the P&P lot. We stop at the National Trust Weir garden at about 11am, have a nice wander round the gardens and a cup of tea. Carry on into Hereford. I am expecting to see the Ancient Camp pub, but it changed into a house in 2009. Push on into Hereford and we stop just after the old bridge. The P&P lot help lift the boat up the bank. We walk into town and go to the Spread Eagle for one. We look into getting a bus, but it is just too long to wait. Pay £42 for a taxi to take me back to Hay, he does not seem to know the way very well. Back in Hay by 15:30, I drive back and we load up. Set off in the direction of Tewkesbury. Have a toilet stop at a pub on the way, the Red Lion at Peterstow. Annette books us into the Riverside Hotel near Eversham. Read a few reviews after she has booked it. Good Points, plenty of hot water: Bad Points, everything else. We arrive and the staff do seem a bit young. Eat in the restaurant, food is good. They seem to run out of peas. Just after we leave the bar the Police turn up to investigate a Scene of Crime.
Sunday 4th - Sleep well and up for breakfast at 9am. I try to order Salmon, but they have none, I try to order scrambled egg and bacon, she offers me toast, I say yes, then she says, no Toast. Go for the full English, very good. Drive over to Tewkesbury and find the battlefield. Drive down to where the Avon meets the Seven. The weather to not too good.
Trent from Kings Bromley - July 2013.
Saturday 13th - Down at King Bromley for 11am, park in the Yoxall layby. Set off at about noon. Very slow to get going on the first bit, very overgrown. Walk and push the canoes. Have a couple of beers as we canoe along. Nice coming into Alrewas, We portage round the weir. Me and Matt go down in the inflatable, a non event. Canoe under the A38 and on into Walton. When we have passed Walton it is evident that we will never make Newton Solney as planned, start looking for a place. Find a great place just before the Intake for Drakelow power station. Come to a stop at about 7:30pm. Great place, cook on a soney beach, sleep on the field above. Not much wood, so go for a trip in my canoe to get some. Cook an assortment of meats for evening meal.
Sunday 14th - Awake from about 7am, have a fire but cook on the Trangia. We have got loads of meat left. We have a play in the river during breakfast. We get going at about 11am. As we are coming into Burton there is a Regatta going on. I have a word we one of the organisers and we go through whilst there is a lull in the proceedings. We take the left route through Burton again. A local canoe club is playing on the weir and direct us which bit to go down. Stop at Willington bridge to drop off Alex. He walks into town and gets picked up. We get the Trangia out and have burghers. We tow Jack and Louie to Twyford, Matt paddles by himself. The next stretch to Swarkestone goes fairly easily, we just tow Louie. We all stop at the Crewe and Harpur for one at about 6pm. Me and Matt push on down to Kings Mills in my canoe, takes about 30 minutes. We then drive back to Kings Bromley and then Crewe and Harpur. Home at about 9pm.
Derwent from Darley Abbey - April 2013.
Meet up with Matt at 9:45 at Trent Lock, leave Annette's car. Drive with Matt to pick up Malc in Alvaston. Drive to Darley Abbey and prepare to start. Matt's friend, Jen turns up. The normal start is barricaded. Start a little way down. See lots of rowers from Derby Rowing club to start with. Carry round at Derby weir. Just after Raynesway we get to the hidden weir. It is extremely slippery and all covered in shit. Push the boats over to the other side. Mine nearly gets stuck in the middle. Annette walks down to the mechanical sluices. I paddle my canoe alone for the first time, quite difficult in the wind. We stop for sandwiches at 14:30 by the S shaped weir near Elvaston castle. Rather deserted on the way up to Church Wilne, Malc comes across the upper weir first, almost looks doable, but we portage on the left. Malc then goes ahead to find the lower weir, almost gets carried down. Would be great fun in a kayak, and helmet. The wind gets up and there are sections where progress almost comes to a halt. Matt's new canoe has a slow leak and needs constant topping up. See the new Long Horse bridge for the first time, looks fantastic. The last two miles to Trent Lock go quite easily, the wind is with us. Have a quick pint at the Trent Lock and then do the driving thing.
Severn from Shrewsbury - August 2012.
Saturday 11th - Meet Matt W, Malc, Alex and Izzy at the scout hut at 9:15am. They put the canoe on the roof of Matt car. Annette and I go for some stuff from Morrisons and then head down. Meet up at Severn Park, and leave my car there. All into Matt's car and we drive to Frankwell car park in Shrewsbury. Unfortunately there is a flower show on and the car park is full. Dump all the stuff on the slipway and Matt dumps the car further away. We are on the water for 2pm. We are passed by Sabrina as soon as we get going. Alex and Izz1y get the hang of it fairly well, they want to shoot the weir, but we portage round. Enjoy the stretch down to the Mermaid at Atcham. Have problems again with mud under the bridge, Annette is stuck for a while. They have put up a sign in the field saying no access to the river. Have one pint there and then decide to push on. Takes a little over an hour to get down to Wroxeter, I recognise the island in the middle of the river and the posh house to the left. Annette lands first and finds a great place, A couple of groups of fisherman are there as well. Make a fire straight away and cook lots of burghers. We have a couple of bottles of wine and finish the beer off. 11.7 miles today.
Sunday 12th - The airbed goes down in the night, Annette tells me to move over by saying, It's your back that has gone, not your brains. Awake for 7:30. Make another fire and cook some bacon and beef sausage. On the water for 9:30. It starts to rain and we shelter under Cressage bridge for a while, set off and then it gets heavier, shelter under a tree. Contemplate going to the Eagles Inn. We can see the Ironbridge Cooling towers for a long time before we get there. Stop at the Swan for a couple of pints and lunch. Decide to canoe down Jackfield rapids, we don't get as wet as last time. Stop at the Boat Inn for the first time, 12.4 miles today. Me and Matt go off to Bridgnorth in a taxi. I then drive back to Shrewsbury. On the way back to Ironbridge I go via Broseley, looks cut off from the real world. We see them driving along the M54 on the way back. Tired when we get home.
Derwent from Duffield - July 2012.
Thursday 26th Meet Matt and Malc at Darley Abbey at 6:30pm, have a pint from the Abbey and leave my car. Put in at Duffield church for the first time, easy place from a fisherman's stand. Enjoy going down the weir at Peckwash mill. Matt and Malc try it again. Arrive at Darley Abbey at 9pm. Contemplate going down the weir but don't. Have a pint of Pedigree from the Darley Abbey club.
Severn from Ironbridge - July 2011.
Saturday 30th - Drive down to Ironbridge, park up, and then walk into town to get water. Start canoeing at about 5pm. Enjoy the canoe under the Ironbridge. Rather fun going down Jackfield, we both get quite a splashing. Stop at the Woodfield Arms for tea. Very nice canoeing after tea, there is not a drop of wind and the canoe seems to glide very well. Stop at about 8:30pm, just opposite Apley Hall. Have our bottle of wine and turn in for 11pm. The ground is a bit stoney, not sleep very well.
Sunday 31st - Awake for about 6:30am, out of the tent for 7:45. Fine sunny morning. Canoe into Bridgnorth, arrive at about 10:30, there are about 30 hire canoes just about to set off. Go for breakfast at Olive's Dinner, just by the bridge. I am not 100%. Meet Matt off the train at 11:30, back to the launch site and prepare to get underway. We stop for lunch at the Unicorn, rather slow for food, have to have two pints. The Ship is another pub to visit, see some nice camping places just after there. We arrive at Arley, go to the Harbour to decide a plan. Annette is to wait there while me and Matt push on to Bewdley. Arrive there just before 8pm. Put the canoe on Matt's vehicle and head to Arley, pick up Annette and then push on to Ironbridge, I had forgotten how long it takes to drive between these stops. In Ironbridge for 9pm, drop the Canoe at my Dad's at 11pm. When we get home, we find Thomas in the garden, he has been there since 3pm. His car broke down on the way back from the Global Gathering.
Trent from Swarkestone - June 2011.
Saturday 4th - Get the boat into the water at about 12:30pm. It is a lot more windy than we had expected. We have ham sandwiches looking across at Weston church at about 1:30pm. Paddle on to the Priest House, but it is closed for a wedding. When the wind dies down the paddling is very pleasant. Try and get out at Cavendish Bridge for the Old Crown, but cannot find a way past the houses. The last stretch to Trent Lock is hard work as we are directly into the wind, arrive at 5:30pm. Dad, gives me a lift back to Swarkestone.
Trent from Twyford - May 2011.
Saturday 8th - Second trial run for the new canoe, Load up the canoe and put in at Twyford at 15:40, very easy access point. The lower seats helps the stability, take one sandbag. Rather windy and sunny. Takes one hour to get to Swarkestone. I get a taxi back to go and fetch the car. Eat inside at the Crewe and Harpur.
Derwent from Little Eaton - April 2011.
First trial run for the new canoe. I carry the canoe down Woodlands Close. Barry Fitch comes out to see us and we have a chat about the best place to launch, it enters the water at about 4pm. The first thing that we notice is that it is rather unstable, but goes well. Dad drives down to Riverside cottage, he waits on the bridge with Edna, arrive at about 4:30pm. Land in her garden, have a cup of tea and chat. Borrow a couple of sandbags to make it more stable, works well, but does slow it down. Get out at Darley Abbey. A couple of people in the Abbey make nice comments. Strap it onto my car and back home.
Severn from Hampton Loade - June 2010.
Saturday 26th - Drive down to Arley, see a sign that says parking at Hampton Loade so I decide to go down there. Lots of other canoeists have just finished there. We have a chat with a couple of blokes. On the water for 11:30am. Realise that we have forgotten the camera. The Severn Valley railway is running and we see the train a few times. I realise that I have no shoes on board. Stop just before Upper Arley and have some Italian meats and red wine. Stop again at Upper Arley and have a large ice cream from the Post Office. It appears to be a 50's day there, hear the brass band. Swim in the river a couple of times to cool off. See the pillars of a disused railway crossing. Stop in Bewdley at the Mug House Inn and have a drink by the river. Quickly on and through Stourport. Stop at Lincomb Lock, rather difficult to get out. It is the first time that I have seen a manned lock. I ask if we need to buy a license, the lock keeper tells us that we don't. Easy to put back in. Start to look seriously for somewhere to stop. Find a place near Astley wood, it is a Prince Albert Angling Society pitch. Annette does a fantastic BBQ with loads of meat, nice bottle of wine. The ground is a little angled and rather stony.
Sunday 27th - Awake from 6am, very light. Out of the tent from 7:30am. On the move again for 8:20, get to Holt lock and the same lock keeper is there. Easy out and put in. Stop just after the Holt Fleet and Annette boils up three eggs and we have breakfast. Annette puts the radio in her hair band, and so invents the AnnetteBobbleRadio. Not quite sure what to do at Bevere island so we get out at a very high fishing stand. The lock keeper tells me that we could go down the locks if we had a live jacket. Just after the lock we pull into the Camp House, Grimley. Very nice pub, sit in the shade and have a ham cob and some strawberries. Push on to Worcester, when I see the racecourse I realise that I have been there before. Canoe past the cathedral. Recognise the tall spire from a previous visit. Get out at the Diglis Hotel, they do not have the match on. Have a pint, put down the canoe and call a taxi. It costs £60 to get back to Hampton Loade. Get the car packed and set off. Annette requests some food by the river so drive down to the Woodbridge Inn at Coalport, just the job. Back for about 8pm, rather tired.
Severn from Montford - May 2010.
Saturday 99th - Leave Derby at 12:30. Start canoeing at 3pm. Very long stretch of water with no bridges. Very hot day. I have a number of swims in the river. We see a couple of people going very slowly in canoes. Arrive at the Frankwell bridge at 7pm. Phone the Old Bucks head and they have a room. Struggle to walk up the hill with the canoe to get there. Have very good steak and chips. Have a little walk into town. Walk along the river a little. Have one in the Boathouse pub. Walk back up to the B&B and have one in the Sun Inn on the Island. Some live music is on, very good. Sleep well.
Sunday, Good breakfast at 9am. On the water for 10:30. Bright blue skies. Contemplate going down Shrewsbury Weir, but decide not to. Someone has died there recently. Canoe on for a while and then start trying to find the pub at Uffington. For some reason I think that it is called the Red Lion. We stop by the wrong road bridge and have a little walk, ask a couple of cyclists. We give up and canoe on. We then find the correct road bridge but still cannot see the pub. See my first Black Swan. Canoe on to the Mermaid at Atcham. Have a couple more swims before we get there. Have a couple of pints there and then get a taxi back to Montford bridge. Drive back via Audlem, stop at the Shroppie Fly for some food. Have the Ham egg and chips, tons of chips. Back home for 10:30pm.
Severn from Pool Quay - May 2009.
Saturday 30th - We park the car in a field over a bridge by the river Severn. Start canoeing at about 10:15am. Good views over to Rodney's Pillar and the quarry on the west side of the hill. Enjoy the rapids at Llandrino bridge and Stoney rapids. Arrive at the Royal Hill at 3:30pm. Have a couple of pints outside. At about 6pm, decide to stay for the night, eat in the pub. I wake at 2am, bunged up and convinced I have Swine flu.
Sunday 31st - No breakfast is available, set off in the morning at 9:15am. I am really not with it and don't enjoy the river very much. It seems a long two hours to the Montford Bridge. Have a very good Sunday lunch there. Then I get a taxi back to Pool Quay. The taxi driver tells me about the secret Criggion transmitting station.
Soar from Cossington - May 2009.
Saturday 2nd - Leave my car at Trent Lock, and drive on in Annette's to Cossington. Start moving at 1pm. The river has very little flow. We have to negotiate many locks. Try to follow the river most of the way, in preference to the canal. Rather shallow in places. Canoe along the canal through Barrow on Soar, eat our sandwiches there. Annette had brought some soup in a flask but it is broken. Stop for a drink at the Plough in Normanton at Soar at 6pm, I get cold whilst we are there. Go well past the Otter pub and then on the Ratcliffe. The last stage seems to drag on, we are very close to the power station for a long time. Leave the water at 9:30pm. Drive and fetch Annette's car.
Wye from Hereford - Aug 2008.
Saturday 30th - I go round to Datum to pick up the red viper canoe. It is covered in dust and absolutely full of rubbish. Leave Chad at about 10.30am. Drive straight down to Ross and then on the Hereford. Find an overnight car park, sign posted right by the river. Thomas sees his deputy head master, he canoes down with his son. On the water by 3pm. Arrive at Holme Lacy at 6pm. Have a cup of tea. Walk up to the Moon Inn later. There is a good path from the campsite. Fall down a small hole in the pavement on the way back.
Sunday 31st - Out of the tent for about 9am. We leave the tent at the campsite and pick it up latter. Annette goes in the kayak all day. We stop at the New Harp Inn. The steps up from the river are very slippery and I fall over in the mud. Thomas decides that he has had enough so me and him get a taxi back to Hereford. Annette canoes on by herself. We get the car and drive back to pick up the tent from Holme Lacey and then to Hole in the Wall to try and find Annette. She phones from the rowing club in Ross and gets out at the Hope and Anchor.
Severn from Shrewsbury - Aug 2008.
Saturday 23rd - Park in the Frankwell car park. Have a chat with a couple of blokes about canoeing the river. Walk into town to buy some provisions. I have to buy two day car park tickets for Saturday. Start canoeing at about 3pm, lots of bridges in Shrewsbury. We meet a charming lad called Jack Lane by the weir. It soon transpires that we are not going to make the campsites near Ironbridge. Contemplate staying at the Mermaid Inn in Atcham, but we drift past at 5:15pm. Starts raining at about 6pm and we seriously start looking for somewhere to stop. Try a couple of islands in the middle of the river. In the end find a fantastic little spot near Wroxeter. There is plenty of wood for a fire and the tent fits into a ready made place in a bush. I struggle to get up the bank, do a bit of a scout around. Get everything ready and then have Boots chicken wrap and red wine. We have no torch, so bed for 10pm.
Sunday 24th - Rains from 4 till 4:30 am. I am awake from 6am, get up at 7:15, not a cloud in the sky. Have chocolate brownies and fruit juice for breakfast. On the water for 9am. Wave to a few friendly fisherman. Canoe past the power station and then land on the concrete near the gorge museum. Move the canoe under the trees. Stop at the Swan Inn in Ironbridge for lunch, sit outside in the sunshine. Stop in Bridgnorth at the same place as we got in with Robert Taylor last summer. Chat with the burger van woman. Taxi picks me up at about 6pm to go to Shrewsbury.
Trent from Great Haywood - July 2008.
Saturday 12th - Leave my car in a car park of "The Mill" off Mill lane, rather a difficult entry into the Trent, and then straight under the canal. Start canoeing at 4pm, good sunshine. Under a very old footbridge and onward. Have a cup of mince and bread as we drift past Rugeley power station. Get a little confused by the split in the Trent near Kings Bromley, the river is almost blocked by trees. Go to down the Left branch. Canoe through Alrewas and port round the weir, rather cold by this stage. The River Tame joins the Trent and I realise that Chetwyn bridge is upstream. I send Annette off with the Sat nav to walk to the car and I canoe on almost to Walton. Get out into a field of young bulls, very inquisitive.
Derwent from Belper - July 2008.
Saturday 1st - Start canoeing from Belper Beach at about 7pm. The part round the back of Belper seems to take forever, very nice and green. One fisherman tells us that the river is privately owned. Eventually get to the weir at the back to Gloworm as was. Port round to the left easily and re-launch just beneath. We had previously inspected the weir at Milford and it can be ported at the left. A few people watch us from the Pub. Quite a large wall to climb down. Quite a few small rapids on the next stretch to the Bridge Inn, I enjoy the fact that I have never been down this part of the river before. The weir at Peckwash is a little tricky. It seems to go quite quickly from then on. Have a look at Riverside and the bottom of the A38. The river bends back on itself near Haslam's so we port across. Heavy rain arrives as we carry it across. Carry on down to Darley Abbey weir, arrive at about 10pm.
Trent from Twyford - June 2008.
Saturday 28th - Drive to Twyford. Easy place to park and get in the river. Get going for about 1pm. Stop just after the Swarkestone bridge and go into the Crewe and Harper for a bite to eat, sit outside. Enjoy the canoe onward. I do not believe that I have done the bit from Kings Mill onward. Port round the weirs at Sawley and Trent lock. Very difficult to see Attenborough church or know where to get out. Get bitten to pieces when we do get out.
Trent from Chetwynd bridge - June 2008.
Saturday 14th - After a bit of a drive around, park near Chetwynd bridge. Nearly put the canoe into a lake, eventually find the river. First time in the inflatable. Start canoeing at about 3pm. Very nice sunny weather, most of the day without a shirt. Stop for soup out of a flask under the bridge in Burton. The weir in the middle of Burton is very easy. We were going to stop at Willington but paddle past the bridge. Decide to stop at Twyford, arrive at about 8:30pm. I get a taxi back to collect my car. Call in at the White Swan in Walton on the way back for a pint.
Severn from Bridgnorth - Sept 2007.
Saturday 22nd - Get up at 7am and go and pick up Robert and James at 8am. Drive down to Bridgnorth. Get there for about 10am. There are about 20 others. We are guided down the river. Stop at the River and Rail for lunch, a rather new pub with watered down Pedigree. Very short in the afternoon, only about 1 hour, stop at Arley. Have a cream tea over looking the river. Coach back to Bridgnorth. I drive to Ironbridge to have a look round. Just walk along the street and back. Back for 8pm.
Ardeche and Gorges du Tarn Trip July 8th to 13th 2006 Me and Annette.
Saturday 8th - Fly to Nimes. Very hot, change into my shorts for the rest of the week. A problem with the hire car, end up with the only car which they have left, a Toyota Aygo with no air-conditioning. Have a quick drive around Nimes and then up the A9 past Orange to Bollene. Drive on to Vallon Pont D'Arc. Camp at the Provencal camp site, right by the river. Walk into town in the evening and eat in the square.
Sunday 9th - Rent a canoe from Acqua Bateaux. Set off from Vallon Port D'Arc at about 1am. Fantastic hot weather. Everyone seems to be in front of us as the river is very quiet. Arrive at the second Bivouac site, Gournier at about 7:30pm. A long drag to get the stuff up from the river to the camping area. Cook lots of meat and have a couple of bottles of wine. During the night we hear a wild boar sniffing round the tent.
Monday 10th July - Have breakfast sitting at the front of the tent, lots of wasps. Talk with a couple of teachers who are taking a load of school kids down the river. Second day on the Ardeche. Drive over to the Tarn, go via Arles. Arrive very late at a campsite near Florac. Drive into town for a couple.
Tuesday 11th - Rest Day in St Enimie, talk with a couple driving round Europe.
Wednesday 12th - Canoe down from Saint Enimie to La Malene. Drive down to Millau. Spend a lot of time driving to the new bridge visitor centre, but it is shut. Drive down the D999, very long winding road. Stay in the IBIS hotel in Nimes. Go to McD's for tea. When we get back the hotel bar has shut !
Thursday 13th - Back to Derby for noon.
River Orb May 1st 2005 Me and Annette.
Sunday 1st - Drive to Roquebrun to canoe on the river Orb, go down the paege to Beziers and up from there. Get there for about 1.30pm. The man tells us to go the Blue Lizard to get some sandwiches. Enjoy the trip down the river, have a bite to eat by the bridge at Ceps. On the way back plan a long drive through the national park and then realise that we are short of petrol. Try a few petrol stations but they all need a Carte Bleu and none are attended. Not only is it a Sunday but also May Day. At about 9pm we decide to stop by petrol pump and wait for someone to arrive with the right cedit card. We wait about 20 minutes. Drive about ½ a mile and the next petrol station has a very bored looking attendant. Drive back via Mazamet.>
Gorges du Tarn Trip August 26th to September 2nd 2001 Me, Helen, Anna, Clive Darke.
Sunday 26th - Fly to Nimes on Ryan Air. Go to the Budget desk and ask if they have a vehicle with lots of space. The woman says she has a very funny car for us, we hire a Fiat Multipla. We drive to St. Enimie, arrive at about 3pm. Locate the canoe hire place. Camp just down the river at Courdec, realise that we need a hammer and a six inch nail in order to get any pegs in. Enjoy swimming in the pool and the river. Drive back into town for a meal.
Monday 27th - Hire two Canadian canoes from Canoe France. We are taken upstream by mini-bus to Grand Ravin. Start canoeing at about 10.30am in fantastic hot weather. Canoe for almost a mile before we stop and have a swim. We stop in the small village of Prades at noon. We struggle up the steep valley sides in the blazing sunshine. We find a bar but unfortunately it is 'ferme'. Carry on to St Enimie. Stop for a beer and some rations. Camp at Courdec again. Walk back into town for a meal. Enjoy a 'Salade du Chevre Chaud'.
Tuesday 28th - Have a French breakfast at the camp-site. Start canoeing again at about 10am. Stop just after 'La Malene' for some lunch. The water is incredibly clear and we do some snorkeling. We are transported down stream from 'Pas de Souci' past a section of 'Danger du Mort' water. Finish the day with a toboggan run down a weir. Camp near the river again in Les Vignes. I like the view across the river to the village. Walk over the bridge and eat in a restaurant hanging over the river. Introduce Clive to Salade Gourmand and Steak Roquefort.
Wednesday 29th - Carry on to Le Rozier down an almost deserted river. There are lots more rapids that on the previous two days. Arrive for about 2pm and swim in the river while waiting to be picked up. Transported back to St. Enimie, have a beer and then back to Les Vignes for another night.
Thursday 30th - Lay the map out on the ground and decide to head south to Perpigion. Try to find a camping place at Argeles and then Collioure. End up in Banyuls. The camp site is rock hard. Go out for a meal next to the beach. They all speak English, I am almost disappointed.
Friday 31st - Have a day on the beach outside a hospital. Swim in the sea, see large shoals of fish. Drive up an incredibly narrow track to the Tour Madeloc. Stay another night in Banyuls. Drive to Collier for a meal. Have a very good pizza in a square near the sea. A band is playing on the shore, stay and listen till late.
Saturday 1st - Drive back to Nimes, arrive at about noon. Try to stay in a formula 1 but find an IBIS instead. Go round 'Les Arenas' very impressive. On the way back beat a BMW M3 away from the lights and he is not amused.
Sunday 2nd - Fly back to be greeted by rain at Stansted.
Ardeche Canoe Trip August 6th to 13th 2000 Me, Helen, Anna, William Bugg.
Sunday 6th - Fly to St. Etienne on Ryan Air. Hire a green Renault Megane. Drive down to Vallon Pont d'arc, via Valance. There are so many golden M's on the way that we have to stop at one of them. Go to the canoe hire shop to check a few details. Drive down the very narrow back streets trying to find the Hotel Belvedere, which Tim had booked for us.
Monday 7th - Buy some food at the super market, meat for the BBQ, jam, bread, vin and water. Hire two Canadian canoes from Adventure Canoes. Depart at 1pm. The predicted two and a half hours ( 7 km ) takes till 7pm due to lots of rests and swimming. Some very exciting rapids. Stop at bivouac Gaud. Me and William make a very good fire, bbq the meat and drink the vin, a good evening, talk about the old times. I sleep out.
Tuesday 8th - Brioche and strawberry jam for breakfast, leave Gaud at noon, a fair distance to go by 4pm. Coach back to Vallon. Back to the Belvedere, have a meal there, we all share one room.
Wednesday 9th - Drive along the top of the Gorges. Stop off for breakfast, hot chocolate and cookies. Visit the Grotto Madeleine, very good. Down to Avignon, look at the bridge, walls. Nip across to Nimes for a look at the Colosseum. Call in for a quick look at the Pont Du Gard, very impressive. Head south using the AutoRoute to Marseilles, do a few circuits and then on to Cassis. All camping spots are 'complete' so push on to La Ciotat, there are 9 campsites there but we can find no space. Try many hotels and just when we are about to give up and head into the hills, William finds a hotel room for two people at 'Le King', which we all share. It has a wonderful view of the bay, sit on the balcony and drink vino tinto.
Thursday 10th - Find a campsite first thing in the morning. Go into La Ciotat for a large pizza for breakfast sitting on the sea front. Drive back to the alcove that we considered camping in late last night, now rather busy. Spend the day there. Lots of people are jumping in from cliffs, William has a go. Drive out to Bandol for a meal. Eat in "La Cigale Bleue", excellent food, fireworks in the background.
Friday 11th - Me and William queue for ever for some sandwiches. Go on a boat trip from Cassis. Go to a very nice cove.
Saturday 12th - Head north today. Hit a few queues on the AutoRoute. Drive over the 'Pass de la Revolution' and then past the airport. Try a few hotels, follow signs into a ghost town. Take directions to the hotel Iris. I knock on the door to be told that it has shut for years, 'Scooby Doo where are you ! '. Find a hotel near to the (or maybe a ) Loire river. We wander round to try and find a bar but end up back in the hotel.
Sunday 13th - Fly back to Stansted. Willo Tinto catches a train back to London. I am disappointed by the amount of things that don't work at Stansted airport. Drive back and get a McDonald's happy meal, complete with Little Miss Naughty and her demonic laugh, it haunts my car for the next month.
River Wye - April 28th to May 1st 2000. Me, Helen, Anna, PK
Friday 28th - Leave at about 5pm. Drive down to Helen's, call in for McDonalds. Takes about two hours to get to Hay-on-Wye. I have some problems finding the bridge over the river. We go to the Three Tuns. The pub with the oldest continuous serving bar-maid. Lucy has been serving there from when she was 15, now she is 83. We pay £3.80 for 4 pints of very dodgy beer. She asks us if we have the time so she knows when to close.
Saturday 29th - Good breakfast in Hay. Hire two Canadian canoes from Jim at Paddles and Pedals. Set off at noon. After a lot of chat about me being the 'Master Paddler' Helen and I go straight into Hay bridge pillar and nearly tip over in direct view of Jim. The weather is a little cloudy in the morning and clears in the afternoon. Stop at the 'Boat Inn' just after Witney bridge and have a nice curry for lunch. The pub is just next to the river. Arrive at Bredwardine just after 6pm. The 'Old Court' is an amazing place. We have a four poster bed and a huge bedroom. Set off for a little walk round Bredwardine, we end up on an hour and a half ramble. Walk up to the 'Red Lion' for evening meal. PK buys a bottle of wine and we drink it in our private lounge.
Sunday 30th - Have a good breakfast. Take pictures of the huge chimney, it is just an open hole to the sky. Set off at 10.30am. I paddle in shorts. At about lunch time we see a pub high above the river. Pull the canoes over to the side of the river. Struggle up to the Ancient Camp Inn. They serve no food. After a pint we canoe on to Hereford for chips. They are so greasy that I vow never to have fish and chips again. Canoe on. Me and Helen get more adventurous, we go down the rapids with PK and Anna. We arrive at Sink Green farm at about 6.30pm. They give us a lift up to the farm in the landrover. Anna has a little sunstroke, the rest of us are a bit sunburnt. We get a Taxi into Hereford at about 8pm. Have a couple of drinks and then go to Deep Pan Pizza.
Monday 1st - Paddle in shorts again. The girls paddle hard again. We go to the 'New Harp' in Hoarwithy for lunch. It turns cold in the afternoon. We finish at the Hope and Anchor in 'Ross-on-Wye' at 5pm. Jim gives us a lift back to Hay. Drop Helen off and then home for midnight.
River Orb June 1998
Sunday 7th - Have a wonderful drive under tree lined roads to Castres, Mazamet, St Pons to Roquebrun. By the time that I get there the sun is very hot. Drive into the magical National Park. Hire a kayak for 2 hours. They drive us up the river for a while to Ceps and then just let us go, no helmet, no instructions. Some of the rapids are quite significant. The river is described as sporting in the brochure. Get out of the kayak a couple of times and swim in the river, very relaxed. After I finish I drive back up to Ceps and swim in the river Orb again and sun bathe. It is an idyllic place. Set off at 6pm for the three hour drive back.
May 9th 1987, 24 hour, 100 mile canoe Wye. Me, Darren Pickard, Ron Shaw and Mike Sheehan.
Saturday 9th - Set off at 12 noon. River pretty low. Do a lot of walking to Glasbury. Just on schedule. Paddle hard and just keep on time. Me and Darren do a lot of getting out and running across the loops and along the side. At Bredwardine for 6pm, see Robert and Heather, Jack and family. A little behind at Hereford, have fish and chips under the bridge and put on the night gear. Pass Mordiford at 12.15am.
Sunday 10th - Capsize at 2.30am due to Mike mopping out water. A bit behind at Ross, have breakfast and leave at 6.15am. Monmouth at 10am. Do the next 7 miles in one hour. Darren's Mum, Dad and Gran come along to wave us on. Finish at Bigsweir bridge at 11.40. Six blisters on my left hand, difficult to walk. Very pleased to have just broken the 24 hour barrier for 100 miles down the Wye. We believe that nobody else has achieved this feat. Go to the tea shop and then on to 'The Boat Inn' for some pedigree.
Trent from Newton Solney - April 1987.
Sunday 12th - Drive down to Newton Solney for 9:45am, sunny day, Robert and Heather, Martin and Stuart had been canoeing the previous day and capsized twice. They camped at the junction of the Dove and the Trent. Start canoeing at about noon. Canoe gently past Anchor Church near Ingleby and stay for dinner, have a paddle on some very calm water. Finish at Swarkestone.
Trent from Newton Solney - April 1987.
Sunday 5th - Drive down to Aston bridge, near Sudbury, get there for 8am. Put my Viper and the green Canadian on top of Heather's Metro and drive to Alton bridge, meet Martin. Start at 9:20am. First go in my canoe, goes very well. Heather and Robert, Martin and Stuart go over twice in the morning, want to give up. Shoot the weir at Rochester on the Churnet, lots of fallen trees. Quite good flow on the Dove, sunny in the afternoon, easy paddle enjoy it.
Soar from Wanlip - March 1987.
Saturday 21st - Get to Ratcliffe on Soar for 8am. Martin brings the green Canadian on the Quest minibus. Leave my car at Ratcliffe, Heather's car at Barrow, start at Wanlip at 9:50. Mice sunny day. All 4 of us in the canoe, take half hour turns, remember quite a lot from last time. Stop for dinner at Barrow, take a leisurely pace, finish at 6:15. Rob and Martin take it down the weir, ship some water.
September 19th 1986, Attempt on 24 hours down the Wye.
May 25th to 1986, Duke of Edinburgh Gold expedition down the River Wye.
Me, Darren Pickard, Simon Hinds, Kevin Clarke.
Sunday 25th - Saw off the bronze D of E and then packed and left for Mordiford, our base camp. We brought bread and milk in Hereford and then proceeded to get lost on the way to Mordiford. While closing in on the camp site we pulled into a lay-be and found our 4th team member. He had driven down that morning and was just changing a blown out tyre. We then established our base camp. In the early evening we drove to Preston-on-Wye. This was our first camp site and also the bronze D of E were camping there that night. We surveyed the landing place and chatted to our supervisor, Ron Shaw. We returned to Mordiford for tea and then visited the Moon Inn.
Monday 26th - The majority of the party rose at 8.30am for a cooked breakfast. Kevin joined us just after washing up. We drove, with the trailer, to the Hoarwithy camp site and arranged with the farm to camp. We then continued to the Youth Hostel at Welsh Bicknor. We had difficulty getting the van and trailer down to the Y.H. Once down there we arranged to camp for Thursday night and observed the landing stage. We then drove down to the last camp site at Whitebrook. There we left the van and canoe trailer and traveled from now in Kevin's car. We called in at Monmouth to buy food for the trip. We returned to Mordiford. Later that evening the bronze D of E team turned up to camp there that night.
Tuesday 27th - Arise at about 7.20am to a dewy, misty morning. Miss the comforts of the van to cook and shelter in. We broke camp and packed everything into Kevin's car. Due to the small size of the car and the large number of plastic bags we had a very cramped journey to Glasbury. Here we collected and loaded up our open deck Canadians. There was a strong following wind and a good flow on the river. This enabled us to make good time without much effort. It became evident by now that Darren and Simon's boat had a leak. We stopped just after Witney bridge, emptied their boat and had dinner. The stretch just after dinner was hard going. This was because the wind was now head on and creating foot high waves. We were careful not to get sideways on to the waves. We rested at Bredwardine and put a patch on two small holes in one of the boats. When we came to re-embark Kevin did not realise how far the boat would go under with a shallow seal launch. Considerable amounts of water were shipped and the boat had to be unloaded and emptied of water. After this an alternative launch was executed. Monnington falls were passed easily due to the high water level. We nearly missed the campsite because nobody else stopped there but Darren recognised the chosen landing site. We cooked tea and then retired to the 'Yew Tree' and had a few games of pool. The first days canoeing of 24 miles had not proved to be as exhausting as we had thought and this lightened our views of the next day.
Wednesday 28th - Due to a few subtle hints Kevin was first up and made the breakfast. We started paddling at about 9.50am, a little late. The wind had died but it was still cloudy and cold to start with. Part way through the morning we paddled past a swan. As we past it pulled it's neck right back, into the attaching position and stormed towards us. We paddled another 100 yards and then heard a large flapping noise as it flew directly toward us. This was one occasion which I missed a good picture with my camera. A little further down the river we witnessed a 20lb pike being hauled out of the river. The stretch to Hereford was a long slow drag. We arrived at Hereford early and had a look round the town and a good rest. In the afternoon the sun was quite strong and was a nice afternoon to finish the 28 miles. We spent most of the afternoon with our wetsuits unzipped and soaking up the sun. Due to their fair skin Darren and Simon had to rest to get sun-cream onto their faces quickly. We arrived at Hoarwithy at about 6.00pm and camped on the right side of the river. Here for the first time we met the army cadets who were to stay close to us for the rest of the trip. By this time the major problem was sore backs and bottoms. This was due to the hard seating in the canoes. The people at the back of the canoes found it was quite comfortable to perch right on the back of the canoes. The ones in the front had re-arranged the luggage so as to form a back rest. We arranged the canoes to form a windbreak for the cooker then had our tea. We later proceeded to the 'New Harp'. Here we were surprised to see our unit leader, Jack Lenham and his wife. They were returning from holiday in South Wales and knew exactly where to find us. We were glad that the longest day was over and that the weather was remaining fine.
Thursday 29th - We got up at about 7.40am and I felt confident enough about the weather to try a day in shorts. After a large cooked breakfast we set off on the dot of 9.30am. We were early at every checkpoint even though we spent a certain proportion of the time drifting. We had dinner under the bridge in Ross-on-Wye. As 75% of the crew worked for Rolls-Royce we were interested in the Jaguar and Hawk fighter aircraft which were continually in earshot. We arrived in ample time at Welsh Bicknor. The army cadets were at the same campsite. They were having nettle soup for tea, if they wanted meat they had to catch it. We went over to their camp fire and talked to the leaders. One of them says that he does this route about 10 to 12 times per year. Roger Sibley turned up in the evening. He inspects our camp and arranges to see us at the bottom of Symmons Yat at 12.30pm on Friday to inspect us in the water.
Friday 30th - Just as we are getting up we are visited by Mike Pilling. He is the D of E assessor from Derby and has driven down here after Jack Lenham has informed him that the expedition is not being accessed. We tell him that we have now seen Roger and Mike says he may also watch us going down Symmons Yat. The cadets catch a little rabbit in one of their traps but let it go because to is too skinny. The water level seems to have dropped by about a foot and a half since we were here a couple of days ago. See some outward bound chaps all rafted up. Arrive at Symmons Yat just on time, go down the left hand channel. Quite exciting but no real problem. Turn into a calm pool at the bottom and talk to Roger. He inspects that our luggage is securely tired in. He tells us that our throw lines are inadequate. Learn that Mike Pilling was watching us from half way down. Carry on and have dinner at the Bibblins. Have salmon sandwiches as a treat. About a mile later we see a 25lb salmon being pulled out of the river. We ask him for a picture but he is reluctant to show his fish. I just manage to get a picture with my telephoto lens. There is a slow stretch into Monmouth but there were interesting rapids the old railway bridge. On the final part there were large rocks just on the surface and at times there were some large waves. We finished canoeing at 4.30pm. We relaxed and played on the rope swing. Roger comes at 6pm to inspect our final camp and talk to our supervisor.
Derwent from Matlock - May 1986.
Saturday 17th - An oil tanker has overturned in Matlock and spilt its oil straight into a drain and thus the Derwent. Jack rings up and volunteers us to canoe down and survey the damage. A group of about ten from Belper DofE canoes down the Derwent.
Copyright Professor Snail Enterprises Ltd. 1998-2021