posted on March 31, 2010 14:05
There is one thing for certain and that is things always seem to happen on our trips. Is it us or is it kayaking? I just don’t know, but for some reason I thought that our trip to the Chelmer would be one of those rare, uneventful, but perfectly wonderful trips and actually, it nearly was.
As we paid our toll and went through the tunnel from cloudy south-of-the-Thames, we emerged into a sunny landscape, like blinking, winter weary groundhogs on a spring morning. OK I am over-egging it. We emerged into an industrial landscape north of the river with what looked like blue patches in the sky.
Amazingly, the patches got bigger and by the time we got to Paper Lock on the Chelmer, the sun was warm and shining and so it stayed for the rest of the day.
As I was saying, it nearly was uneventful. We had our cake and coffee (some person, who shall be nameless had TWO strawberry scones and cream), got into our boats and headed round for the first (and most delightful) canoe slide. We even had people queuing up for the spectacle when…. All of a sudden… a dyspeptic, red faced man came running along shouting and screaming at us and telling us to stop even thinking about going down the canoe slide “why can’t you kayakers go somewhere else, you have the whole river!”
Mike diplomatically took over at the point when I was going to reciprocate in kind… and then Darren got out of his boat and was screamed at again for trespassing “Can’t you read notices” - well it was a bit difficult as the notice was pointing the other way.
Darren said nothing but got into his boat. We decided that we would have to get out and portage the boats down to avoid potential problems. A shame really.
Apparently the Lock Keeper said that there were loose bricks at the foot of the slide and that we would dislodge them. Then our friend dramatised by saying that the whole river would drain away. Oh dear, I do wonder why people have to shout at kayakers? People don’t usually shout at me when I am in civvies but somehow being in kayaking gear on a river allows all good manners to evaporate. We, however, were well mannered throughout.
Thereafter the day was full of rather long flat bits zested up by friendly yet mildly exciting weirs. We played on most of them and some braver souls even capsized by trying very hard in deed. There is something about that moment when you have been given your instructions about taking river right/left or centre and you are paddling towards the slide and teeter over the top. Weeeee and down and splash. Lovely. The Chelmer really is one of my favourites.
The tide was in at the Malden end and a group went off and did the last couple of vertical and steeply stepped weirs.. Too challenging for me as it meant flicking in mid air so that you land side on rather than nose first. All survived and I have a delightful photo of them coming home in the evening sun.
The last event of the day was me in my new modesty- cover-up -changing -robe -for -roadside looking rather like a couple of bears fighting in a brightly covered sack.
……..and so to the pub and home to bed or should have been but I had to face the inquisition about why I had got some major scratches on the car got through parking on the lane at the Lock…. :(