Hoe Mill Lock to Rushes Weir 200113
I thought I’d be the first to write a blog for 2013, even though I know several paddling trips have taken place this year. I arrived early(for a change) at Hoe Mill and wondered whether I’d missed a text or email to say the day had been cancelled. Hole Mill Lock was frozen over however the lower part of the canal was running clear. A few fishermen were huddled up under the bridge trying to keep warm. Nothing appeared to be happening either on or off the water apart from it was snowing – quite heavily.
Andy turned up about ten minutes later with news that the others were all having a lay in! (Eh?) I think he actually said they were running late. Paul turned up next sporting open backed sandals, an unusual choice of footwear given the artic conditions, but he was full of beans and raring to go. The three of us walked along the canal to see how far up the ice had conquered the river. After finding a launch point we returned to the road just as Caz, Jill and Kevin arrived. A quick change into paddling gear complete with scarves and woolley hats, our motley crew of six stomped along the path through the snow to the put in point, just above Hoe Mill weir. Kevins new kayak hadn’t arrived so he was in an open boat and I was trying out Kevins old Pyranah one zone. We seal launched into the icy water and then paddled up to Rushes weir passing white fields and bare trees.A bleak landscape but if you looked closely it was full of life with robins and finches playing amongst the sugar coated branches. The blade of your paddle felt sluggish as you pulled it through the water. We paddled past an over excited dog which threatened to jump in and join us. Good for him that he didn’t, the water was cold! It snowed quite heavily at times and made for a different but not unpleasant experience. Arriving at Rushes we were met with near perfect water conditions, nice flow of water coming over the lip of the weir and a friendly stopper to practice in, almost running the whole width of the weir. Andy led the way into the stopper and some of us practiced paddling the length of the of the stopper getting in and out of it, with varying levels of success. Kevin calmly giving instructions to the panic stricken amongst us in the stopper trying to look cool. They say scare yourself at least once a day so that you know you’re alive. Well I think we managed that.
Also, new to me, a rescue technique on how to tow someone out of a stopper. Our lucky victim was Andy who was supposed to be towed out by Jill joined to me joined to Paul and Caz. Andy gave up in the end and paddled out himself. We did it again rescuing Jill with more success after an impromtu capsize by her and quick T bone rescue by Andy. Paul also tested the water temperature and was rescued by Andy, and then later, obviously not happy with Andys heroic deed was rescued by Caz after another attempt at breaking out . We were begining to get good at getting people out of stoppers and quick rescues! After a bit more messing around Andy, Caz, Jill and Paul decided to shoot the wier. Kevin and I stayed in the lower pool to take photos. We paddled back to Hoe Mill and did some ice breaking, trying to paddle onto the ice only to have it crack under your boat.
Back on dry land and after a quick cuppa, it was time to load up and go home…and the snow kept falling. Thanks to Kevin for organising the trip and for the loan of his boat, and thanks to our intrepid paddlers Andy, Paul, Caz and Jill. For those of you who stayed in bed – you missed out.
Regards John H