CSCC Reports 2010: Symonds Yat - September 2010

Karen, Martin, John, Dan, Stewart and a sleepy Ian set off from Chiswick at around 9am with 5 kayaks as well as an open boat for Stewart, who hadn’t been able to bring his own along as his car was out of action.

Martin’s competitive driving efforts saw his car arrive at Symonds Yat a full half hour before the Danmobile showed up - a somewhat hollow victory, given that the latter vehicle contained all of the paddles.

The group met up with Diane, who was keen to put her coaching skills to the test on the newbies, and off we went to warm up and practise breaking in and out on the flat water before moving down to the rapids. 

The water level was low and the group proceeded down the rapids easily, with the exception of Karen, who encountered a rock and learned the wet way not to lean away from obstructions. One short yet rocky swim later, Martin helped her back into her boat to rejoin the others ready for lots of ferry gliding and breaking in/out.

The river was exceedingly busy with kayakers and rented aluminium Canadian canoes, so many of which capsized and ejected their shrieking crews that Stewart took up position as goalkeeper to help catch the many floating paddles and swimmers – although one particularly intrepid group announced that they were in no trouble and were swimming simply “for the fun of it”…

Our group decided to get off the water and return later on when it was quieter, and so adjourned to the Saracen’s Head for tea and cake before enjoying a fun flying chute launch (see video clips) and heading back downstream in the late afternoon. Ian developed a new lease of life around 5pm, and he began attacking the current with renewed vigour at just about the time the rest of us started to tire.

We made our way to the Church Farm B&B then went to join newlyweds Beth and John at the Somerset Arms, where we had very good and substantial meals followed by a drink or two - but were careful to be back at the B&B before the 11.30 curfew.

On Sunday morning, after an early breakfast and bit of fruit scrumping from the guesthouse garden, a short shuttle saw Diane park her car back at Symonds Yat prior to a launch at Lower Lydbrook. It was raining heavily and our slightly subdued paddlers didn’t spot the otters we’d hoped for, but did see a kingfisher during the 5 or so miles down the loop of the river around Symonds Yat rock. About half way round we had a snack break, by which time the rain had stopped and the day was brightening. Upon reaching Symonds Yat, Dan, Diane and Martin opted to keep going for another run down the rapids, while the others got out and returned to the pub for very welcome cups of tea. The river being busy again, the more adventurous party was also back ashore within half an hour, and Diane took the drivers back to their cars upstream while the rest of us waited in the car park where it was again raining heavily.
Once the cars were loaded up Diane said her farewells; the remainder of the group went to the top of the Rock for more tea plus some stunning views and a spot of birdwatching, before proceeding to a cider farm where there were muddy wheelspin shenanigans, hot sausage sandwiches, alpacas, and also some cider to be had. On the return trip Martin, Karen and John made it back along the M4 and had the boats put away by 19:30, while sidewinds on the canoe forced Dan, Ian and Stewart to take the more sedate and scenic Cotswold route, arriving a little later.

Thanks to Dan for organising the trip and booking the B&B.

Karen's photos

Video clips of chute launches here:

Buoyancy-aid-cam launch clip (filmed sideways, unfortunately):

And another short video clip of Martin and John nattering, with Dan and Diane behind and Ian paddling away in the background: