I have given up hope of finding a new bit of water to paddle on within a two hour drive of home. I am more than happy to kayak along familiar routes but there is nothing like the excitement of a new coast/estuary/river/lake, or even canal when you don’t quite know what lies around the corner.
Then a new lake appeared in Somerset. A really big one, far bigger than Roadford Lake, south-west England’s biggest reservoir. In fact each ‘arm’ of the flooded area is as big, or bigger, than Roadford Lake, and it has as many arms as an octopus.
But I didn’t realise the extent of open water till we got there. Dave and I were heading towards the flooded patch to the south of Curry Rivel and as we drove up the side of a hill caught a glimpse of West Sedgemoor through the trees. Good grief. A good five miles of open water stretching away towards distant hills.
We launched our kayaks where the minor road became inundated and paddled off down the road, diverting down a flooded avenue of trees and then heading out into the open ‘lake’.
A howling following wind was creating quite a swell. This would provide a problem for the paddle back but also created the opportunity to be the first person to surf a kayak in Kingsbury Episcopi parish. We had to haul over the levees into the river Parrett at Muchelney pumping station and then headed towards Muchelney Abbey itself. Thousands of wild duck reeled about overhead as a peregrine falcon raked through them looking for lunch.
A couple of amphibious vehicles were supplying the cut off ‘island’ of Muchelney with provisions and transport. I dipped my paddle vertically to test the depth of the water. Six foot plus. It’ll take a month or two for that to go down.
After a constriction at Muchelney the flooded area broadens out hugely again beside the river Yeo, and near Long Load I encountered a floating a new Vauxhall Astra bobbing about.
And a nice encounter with a trio of Roe Deer in a sunny corner who didn’t seem to mind sharing their favourite field with a kayak, and didn’t even bother to get up.
I ticked off another kayaking ‘first’. Paddling down the A372 at Langport, the first time I have kayaked a main road.
Next trip was back to that mighty lake at West Sedgemoor. A thirteen mile circuit without having to get out. Although I did once for a brief spot of breakfast, and trainspotting. Very deep water once again, and only a few barbed wire fences to scrunch over. Absolutely remarkable.
A total of 33 miles paddled around the flooded levels, and I havn’t even ventured into the really bad areas west of Burrowbridge. Think I’ll leave that alone as the whole village of Moorland is underwater.