Boldron Paddlefest 2010
First an apology to those who phoned up thinking the "Boldron Paddlefest" was a proper organised event like the Tyne Tour ... it was just a bunch of paddling friends we invited up for a few days, and added the event to the SOC programme to see if a few more bodies could be tempted out midweek.
Half term, and a mix of people we've met paddling in the alps and those who have been on Plas-y-Brenin courses with the kids turned up at Boldron, to give a bit of sociable paddling for all ages - teenagers aren't always enthused about paddling with their parents' generation. Not everyone knew each other, and there were one or two who had been told not to paddle anything too hard, whilst others didn't necessarily want to. We'd hoped to finish on a high with the Upper Tees, but eventually we scaled the ambitions down just a little, and still had five days of good paddling.
First off, Wednesday, Barnard Castle to Winston Bridge on the Tees to warm up. Ten paddlers - a big group for midweek ! A small group spent forever playing on the wave just under the bridge on Abbey Rapids, but eventually we dragged them away to get down to the Winston ledge drops before it got dark...
Thursday, the Racing Section, but with enough water to make it worthwhile starting at Middleton (0.75m). Ten paddlers again, but not all the same ones. Terry came along to give us the event's only open boat descent.
Quite a pleasant level for Woden Croft
Friday, we had some relative beginners, so set off to do Cotherstone to Barnard Castle with a group of thirteen, with an optional continuation down Abbey Rapids (those who had spent a long time playing on Abbey on Wednesday wanted another go without the time pressure to get on down the river). The level had dropped off quite a bit, so Abbey's play potential was much reduced.
Bottom wave, Abbey, at a lower and less exciting level
Saturday, over to the lakes for the Keswick Greta at a nice level (but carefully timed to still be in October, just in case it was below the white line). Ten paddlers set off, but one found he had left so much gear behind that he was confined to taking photos and video from the bank (and did a lot of running as a result).
Magnetic Rock rapid at a nice bouncy level, where even the line on the right went
Sunday, and a trip which was on the way home for some people, the Lune, from Beckfoot to Killington New Bridge, at about 0.7m on the gauge. Ten paddlers today, only one of whom decided that Low Gill, the ditch at the side of the lane down, was also at a nice level...
Rory makes Low Gill look almost a sane alternative to walking
Not a big level, but well above rock bottom. Crowders Leaps was unrecognisable compared to the level we'd had last time (and the next two times in 2011) and there was easily enough to make the Strid a good run, though the chap fishing right in the entry line didn't make it any easier.
Getting a good line into the wave above the big rock ensures an easy run down to the big exit pool
Overall, though the paddling wasn't at the highest level, getting fifty two person-river-descents in one meet seems like quite a successful event, and SOC members were paddling every day.
Article and photographs copyright © Andy Waddington 2010