Neasham to Preston Park 35k (sorry Mark)
Pre-check of landing points and features for the open canoe series in the coming year, paddling between Neasham and Preston park to check put ins and navigation. Beautiful cold bright day. Ice in the shadows, gleaming water droplets in the sun. Instant temperature drop when we paddled into the shade, with a faint but distinct warming in the sunshine. The Tees still manages to cut quite a channel in places so you get a unique view of the habitat and architecture along the river.
The water has some movement on the upper sections, including some gentle wave trains and eddies, weirs easily negotiated – practically level, all bottom end grade 2. Shortly after Over Dinsdale the river turns toffee calm with just a gentle series of Vs behind the boat. Very pleasant lunch drifting midstream, coffee and sandwiches (and sweeties) in bright winter sun.
The canoe is much quieter than a kayak. The local wildlife were jostling for position to be seen:- buzzards, kestrels, swans (and cygnet) a welter of herons (2 pairs - so not just the same heron in a different jacket and sunglasses), cormorants, mallards and, possibly more worrying, a mink which watched us go by at about 2-3m. with complete indifference. The most bizarre sighting was a squirrel taking a drink on a drooping branch right in the current which looked like it was lying on the water. Penny would have been disappointed as there was nary a kingfisher.
Around Yarm the water slows and clouds but was still flat calm. Ice floes provided a bit of steering practice (ram speed!) and we collected a dead raft (binned), a couple of footballs and a canoe paddle – may bring some bin bags for the official trips. We also discovered it is difficult to wave and paddle at the same time when we were passed by a kids' party on the Teesside Princess.
Finished off with hot drinks and chips with curry sauce in the café at Preston park.
Good company, excellent days paddling.
Anyone wanting to come on the open boat trips in January please let me know. Beards and tilly hats are not compulsory.
There are a number of put-in/take-out points along the route and we can make the journeys shorter or longer depending on what people feel like. Car parking and logistics are a little complex in places so pre-planning will minimise boat faff. The good news is we can avoid Yarm altogether using a put in on the Eaglescliffe side.