Here is the long-awaited trip report
I have to report that the traditions of CSCC are being shamelessly disregarded. Not only were we on the water before 12.00 but we managed two runs down the Loop on Saturday and some people even did it twice on Sunday. In fact on Sunday we had finished the first run at 11.45...
It was a really good weekend’s paddling. The river level was low but not too low (6” below the ledge) so rocks were not a great problem and the ‘features’ not too intimidating. The weather was magnificent – a balmy 12 degrees or so and it felt warm in the bright sunshine.
On Saturday Tom, Stephen and Richard made an early start from London and met up with the rest of the team at New Bridge. Gordon was waiting there with Hilary and Peter who made an unexpected appearance. Since Amelia did not paddle we had to do the Loop twice so that both Peter and Hilary could have a go.
The first run was with Peter. It was Stephen’s first serious white-water trip and he showed himself to be a natural paddler. We all took turns leading the river and Gordon particularly enjoyed taking us down Lovers’ Leap where he had had a close encounter with the river last year. The river was full of white water racers practising for various races and we had to keep a good lookout to avoid being run over. Stephen and Tom demonstrated a couple of X-rescues but Richard was not so adept and Stephen got wet at the bottom of Triple-Drop as a result. Hilary joined us for the second run and Peter entertained Amelia. We mostly had the river to ourselves so Stephen got the benefit of Hilary’s coaching tips and an enjoyable time was had by all.
Since the Dart Country Park has turned into a posh country house it does not welcome paddlers so the get out is now at Holne Bridge. Dartmoor National Park run a free shuttle service back up to New Bridge but be warned – they will not take long boats. The Corsica was turned down and had to be shuttled separately.
Sunday morning was clear and cold and sunny. The ice on the cars was scraped off and we departed for New Bridge. Gordon, Stephen, Peter and Richard set off for yet another run on the Loop whilst Hilary delivered Tom to Dartmeet to find companions for the Upper. This time the Loop was much less busy once we got away from New Bridge and we had another good run in the sparkling sunshine with no out-of-boat experiences. We had some excitement at the Washing Machine when Gordon hit a rock and finished upside-down. Peter and Gordon then performed a double-act: Peter went in for the rescue; Gordon grabbed the boat; Peter capsized; Peter rolled and Gordon came up with him. Gordon and Hilary went down the Loop for a second run - I’m told that one of them rolled on Lovers’ Leap and that it wasn’t Gordon. In the meanwhile the rest of us basked in the sunshine and waited for Tom to appear bright and elated from a successful run on the Upper.
Thanks to Gordon for arranging an excellent weekend with the best winter paddling weather I can remember!
Hils and Peter's photos can be found at http://s94.photobucket.com/albums/l90/squirrelphotos/DartJan08/