Symonds Yat and Double Weir Playing

So the trainee white water crew came to their last trip of the season. Actually it was two day trips; jaunts down the River Wye before taking on the rapids at Symonds Yat and a day of local weir playing. Our party consisted of Bradley, Ben, The Captain, Chris JB, Vice, Lynds, Chris Hardie, Su Calvert, Nick Weir and Rach, chaperoned by our ever attentive coaches Simon and Hel Walker. Unlike previous trips, we ran this one as a couple of day trips as many of us wanted to take the flowers around to our Mumsies on the Sunday! So slightly comatose by the early morning start, we met at the shed at what seemed like daybreak, loaded up and took off for sunny Gloucestershire. To make more of a day of it, we decided to get in at Ross-on-Wye and take in the views before Symonds Yat. Nothing too tricky at this point apart from the odd fishing line trying to snare us. Having said that, Simon did manage to spot a 5 metre boulder that had seal-launching potential. Scaling it kayak-in-hand ended up being more difficult than intended and Chris Hardie steadied Simon's ship letting him launch. Alas, Simon couldn't do the same for Hardie so more faffing ensued at the top of the rock. Meanwhile, everyone else was wasting away at the bottom waiting to eat lunch (not that we put food above safety of course - well, maybe I do!). Social eventually came bombing down the rock admirably in the end; we stopped for lunch 10 mins downstream at Symonds Yat, just above the rapids.

Rested and refuelled, we took the 10 ft slide in from the car park - Simon launching everyone down in turn while almost launching Helen across the entire river; no love lost there then! We then paddled over to the rapids which are a grade 2 semi man-made feature about 200 m in length. The idea is that you run them, get out at the bottom on the island, carry your boat back to the top and repeat, fine tuning your skills. Needless to say, our first effort probably would've earned us a bronze in the Olympic synchronised swimming but, not to be deterred, we went back at it, breaking in, breaking out, ferry-gliding and some nice rolls from Hardie and JB. Unfortunately the Captain got a dead leg half way through so went down with the boat, but the rest of us survived - more or less. It's safe to say that by the end of the day we were all completely knackered. A short paddle back up to the car park, a "quick" change and we were back at Simon's place eating casserole before you could say hmmm.... what a tasty stew.

The following day, Bradley, JB, Vice, Hardie and myself dragged ourselves out in the arctic winds of Oxford under the guidance of Helen and Simon once more to go and play on the double weir downstream of the lasher. It took us at least half an hour to get over the lasher as the levels were low and I for one had eaten too much casserole. Eventually, we got to the weir only to find that Joe Harris had already beaten us to it! Joe gladly moved aside to let the 'pros' have a go. Some good white water skills were on show and some impressive rolling from Bradley. Unfortunately, I seemed to spend more time with my head underwater than above and the lesson of the day is DON'T SIT ON THE EDDY LINE! Halfway through we lost Hardie to an injured shoulder; Vice and Helen escorted Chris back to the shed while the remaining four of us pulled ourselves up onto the bank to have lunch. After lunch, Helen and Vice returned, we survived maybe another hour before warmth/pub started calling too loudly. That brought to an end another great weekend of paddling; kudos to Helen Walker for organising it. We were broken, beaten and scarred but we'll be back for more!

- Tom

Photos by Adam