Whitewater for Beginners

Penny, the two Kates and I travelled down to the 'bunkhouse' in deepest darkest Devon late Friday evening, arriving in time to meet a few of the other participants and to indulge in some red wine. The next morning came around far too fast but was made bearable by the superb fry-up.....eggs, bacon and sausages swilled down with gallons of hot tea. A briefing and complex 'shuttling' process of cars and trailers followed, and within an hour or so we were all out on the river Dart. Our group's instructor, Mark, talked us through the day's objectives and took us down little by little, practising (or learning as in my case!) ferry glides, 'setting in' and suchlike....! The weather was perfect; the water level of the river being either slightly too high or too low (depending on who one spoke to!), and the scenery delightful, made more so by the steam trains whistling by and the buzzards soaring lazily high in the sky in the sunshine.The day was soon over and the evening spent at the local pub with good food for all. Sunday was a repeat of the previous day, this time moving faster as a group with all of us attempting to 'hone' our skills. I found that going backwards past the rocks made it easier to break into the eddies; not textbook stuff but.....! All in all a great weekend was had by all, experts and beginners alike. The one and only criticism I had was Mark's insistence that this was my first paddle on 'moving water'. Now I realise that Oxford's old father Thames isn't a raging torrent but the water does move, albeit slowly, downstream to the coast.....Mark couldn't seem to grasp this concept. - Steve Dyer