Wednesday Paddle Croft to Neasham Sept 13th 2017
High levels forced us onto an easy section so a run down from Croft to Neasham today. Three kingfishers, lots of herons and several crocodiles cunningly disguised as logs. One tree strewn rapid needed portaging by some of the group though Alan, Emily and I got down okay. Very fast but would have been totally uneventful except half way down a police helicopter started circling us. It stayed with us to Hurworth when a police officer called us to the bank side. An orange boat (no orange boat in our group) had been reported floating empty down the river and when the police investigated they were told 6 paddlers had got on at Croft. I guess given past tragedies they had to call out a full emergency response - police helicopter, several police vehicles, fire brigade, 4 ambulances, swift water rescue boat and the mountain rescue. We were blissfully unaware of the scale of the response until we got off. The policeman we talked to was lovely. Once he'd established we were nothing to do with the stray boat report and had no difficulties at all, he wished us well and sent us on our way to continue the trip. By then they'd seen us paddling as a group and saw the kit and were obviously happy we were fine with the high water. Zoe, who didn't come down, gave my favourite quote of the day. Both her and Sue were on the bank when the emergency services arrived and had no idea we were fine, so when Zoe was asked about our paddling ability, she responded by saying we were dead experienced and even paddled Rapids!
Hopefully, a quieter paddle next week...possibly Coniston?
Article copyright © Penny Swaine 2017