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  • Alick Burt

Paddling a heavily laden Canoe on the Caldon Canal with the sound of the Old West!

Hello Folks

To make up for the fact that I have been a bit quiet on the blog front lately this is a long one!

Last weekend I met up with some of my Cwav friends for a camping/paddling weekend on the Caldon Canal.We met at Froghall wharf and I arrived first which was a good job as I had lots of kit to organise and pack into my canoe.First order of the day was to put everything from my car into the canoe and then relax and have a cuppa whilst I worked how I would fit it all in.

The kit list includes wannigan,tent,sleeping bag,camping mats,folding chair,drybag of clothes (plus stuff for eventualities) day pack with lunch and drink and of course paddles and kneeling mat.I have done this trip before with lots of stuff like this and the problem is the lock which requires lifting all your stuff out to go around unless you have a key (Not easy with the high bank and wannigan!). In this case my good friend Nige was bringing a key with him so we were all going to go through the lock without having to unload. He also brought Luke and Aiden with him so we would have some assistance with the locks too. Biff also joined us making our party a total of five. I loaded the front of the canoe like this.

and the back like this leaving me with the space between.

As we set off Luke was looking cool in his much emptier canoe!

and Aiden had his first try solo in Nige's canoe whilst Nige took pictures and video from the bank.

I took this shot of Aiden as the birds took flight in front of us.

As we paddled on and whilst Nige joined Aiden in his canoe I took the opportunity to do some snacking on blackberries.

The sun intermittently came out from behind the clouds.

We reached the Black Lion at Consall and stopped off for a... not so hard earned pint and I had a bag of crisps whilst Biff had some lunch hence the wooden spoon.

Once again Nige let Aiden paddle solo and it was clear he was improving.

The water was fantastically flat so perfect for practising a few axles,christies and wedges.

I had brought my Peruvian Amazon paddle with me and gave it a try.

Further up Nige got back in his canoe whilst Aiden walked along the bank. Here's Nige

and Biff

We reached our destination of oak meadowford lock or oml as it has become known and set up camp. Once we had done that it wasn't long before it was time to return to the red lion for our evening meal.We ate heartily and soon realised it was getting quite dark so we had better paddle back. When we arrived back the temperature had dropped significantly and everything was already damp even though it had not been raining. Luckily all was dry in my tent and I soon got to sleep for a reasonable nights sleep although not the best I have had on account of the mole hills underneath me!

I awoke quite early at around 6.30 to a misty morning.

Whilst I had wheeled my boat up to camp the others had left theirs below the lock and they opted to bring them through the lock rather than carrying them round.Aiden was on lock duty

whilst I took this picture of the others in the lock.

Our plan was to go to the next pub along the canal which meant going through a lock. No problem we have our key we thought then when we got there we ended up waiting whilst two boats went through. Time for a coffee break.You can see Cwav canoeing is all about relaxing, non of this rushing about to get to particular places for a certain time!

We reached the pub in time for lunch and I had a swift pint before eating my sandwiches by the bridge. I was on one side of the bridge favouring the warmth of the sun whilst Nige Luke and Aiden were on the other side of the bridge in the shade and Biff ate at the pub in the garden.

After lunch Nige, Luke and Aiden decided to return to camp and as it later turned out they went home on account of Nige not sleeping well the night before.

Meanwhile I paddled to the museum with Biff who also turned back but didn't go home and then I paddled further up to a point where an aquaduct crosses the canal above you. Here's a picture of the museum with some very photogenic clouds.

and here's the Aquaduct.

I didn't go further on Saturday afternoon as the plan was to return and paddle back to the pub where Biff had lunch for our evening meal.

I got back to camp to discover Nige and co had left and after a quick cuppa and a chat to a passing Kayaker, Biff and I set off for the pub.

The problem was when we got there we discovered that due to unforeseen circumstances the kitchen was closed.

We decided to try further up the canal which meant more paddling and we found ourselves at a Mexican Restaurant which did good though slightly pricey food and had a limited selection of d the drinks (no real ale).Still it fulfilled our immediate need and we paddled back in the dark.

On Sunday Biff left early to avoid the rain that was forecast.

I had a leisurely breakfast slowly loaded my canoe as although Nige left us the lock key I would struggle to use it alone and get in and out of my full canoe so I decided to take my time and portage everything. At least I had my trolley so wouldn't need to empty the canoe completely. Some might say I don't need to empty it at all but then there is a bumpy steep path next to the lock that I have to negotiate and I don't want to upset a filled canoe on the bumps as I did one time when I was here before. It also meant another excuse for a cuppa and a chocy bickie at the lock.

One more thing that I failed to mention but which was ever present throughout our weekend was that we constantly heard the sound of a steam train whistle. Not the usual kind that I hear when paddling on the Nene by the Nene valley railway but this was an american locomotive which sounded like one you see in old western movies.It was of course on the Churnet Valley railway that runs along side and I caught a picture of it during my paddle back to Froghall.

finally here is a little video to show how wonderfully peaceful it is paddling this waterway when the trains are quiet!

Cheers all and thanks for reading.


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