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  • Alick Burt

Sotp Big meet Day 4 Dodging rocks in moving water on the Ure.

On Monday although some folks had gone home there were still a number of paddlers who wanted to paddle and I was one of them.It had also been raining so there was more water in the river particularly on the section above our campsite which meant we could do a trip starting up river at Mickley.

We loaded canoes onto Greg's trailer which was really handy as it meant less shuttling and we were running quite late.The put in was at the top of a path that led steeply down through a wooded area about 200 yards to the water. We had several trips up and down the path with canoes and kit and then we got onto the water.You can see one canoe halfway down and another is just visible at the bottom.

It was a very short paddle to the first portage at this Weir.

Compared to the rivers I normally paddle the water was flowing faster but we stopped regularly to check the route ahead and keep together.

At one of these stops I looked back and took a picture of what I had just paddled through.On this sort of water you will notice the riffles caused by the rocks and uneven surface underneath.I followed the route of the more experienced paddlers in front of me and could occasionally feel the bottom of my boat, and sometimes my keel touching and rubbing on the rocks.

A little further on we came across a grade three rapid which meant most of us would need to get across to the opposite side of the river before getting out and making our way down the side.

The ledges of rock on the far side looked spectacular.

A plan was hatched and with the help of some lines Greg pushed me out into the water whilst I was pulled over to the other side using a ferry glide.

Then I walked my boat down to where the others were. Greg was getting ready to paddle a boat down the grade three rapid and his dog was looking a bit apprehensive but comfortable sitting in one of the other boats.

The sun shone as Greg and then Debbie ran the rapid.

We paddled on and found a lunch spot under a high bank.On the side of the bank I spotted a folding chair.A bit muddy with two plastic feet missing it must have fallen into the water and floated down to end up there or fallen off the high bank behind us.I unfolded it and had a seat to sit on chatting to Robbie whilst we had lunch amongst the boulders.

On the next section the water was flatter but still quite fast moving with small whirlpools everywhere.The weather was being kind to us as the sun was still out.

It was at around this time that the girls pinned their boat on a rock.Luckily rescuers were close at hand and they wer both ok but the boat needed an emergency repair.We needed to find somewhere to stop and do this and luckily we found a beach.Whilst Greg did an improvised repair using a spare barrel between the yoke and the canoe bottom The rest of us waited on the beach.Once again I had the folding chair out and was sitting having a cup of tea when I noticed the water level was rising quite quickly.It looked to be about an inch every two minutes!

We got into our boats and paddled on and very soon we were back at the bridge which we passed through without incident.However when I got out of my boat I noticed I was actually on an island with a small channel between me and the bank.I slid my boat across the gap to use it as a bridge and then clambered up the bank.

My first taste of moving water where I was able to learn from the fabulous paddlers around me.

Incredible as it may seem to some my boat came through it all relatively unscathed despite bumping and rubbing on rocks on the way down.You can read about the damage and how easy it is to repair in my previous blog.

Thanks go to Greg for organising and all who attended for a fabulous weekend.



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