Posts Tagged ‘Kayak river Tamar’


January 20, 2013

Dragging oneself out of the clutches of the sofa cushions and away from the warmth of the fire seems to get more difficult with each successive winter. Or is it an age thing?

You could opt to become a Megaslob and finish off the mince pies and listen to how megaheros, like Lance Armstrong and Jimmy Savile, have become megazeros. Or you can go out into the sleet and snow and get paddling.

My drysuit has transformed winter paddling into an almost enjoyable experience. You can pile on as many warm fleece layers as you want beneath it. And I’ve been wearing a “onesy” beneath my drysuit, and for loafing about the house, for years before they became fashionable. Mine’s still not a particular fashionable ‘cut’ and smells a bit fusty but I’m not quite so much an item of ridicule as usual.

I still struggle to keep my toes warm on a sub-zero day but my hands are no problem in a pair of skiing gloves.

The open sea has really been a no-go area for the last couple of months with either a big wind or big swell or more usually both. So it’s back to the shelter of the estuaries and my first trip down the lower Tamar of the winter.

A twenty mile trip from Weir Quay near Bere Alston, with its very convenient all-state-of-the-tide slipway (and free parking!), down river beneath the busy Tamar bridges and along past the line of warships and submarines at Devonport. 



Oh no, the police launch has spotted me and is speeding to intercept and have a word with me….again! I am keeping at least 50 meters from the navy ships , but I suppose a lone kayaker on a freezing winter morning has got to have a screw loose, by definition. And maybe I do bear a passing resemblance to Abu Hamsa, the radical cleric.P1000197_01

Out past Devil’s point into Plymouth sound, Drake’s Island provides an ideal sandy beach to down my five weetabix for breakfast, and the rather more complex performance of relieving myself (should have only had the one cup of tea earlier). I am regretful I didn’t get the drysuit with the relief zip.

As I am in the middle of a major contortion to reposition my underclothes, another police launch arrives with two uniformed officers to ask what I am about. They say that I was spotted as I arrived on the island by the lookout tower on the mainland. Sweat beads on my brow as outwardly I chat and joke with the policemen, but inwardly cringe when I wonder how good a view the observers have of my drysuit writhing.

I then paddled across the sound to skirt the inner edge of the mile- long breakwater , and then back up to Weir Quay. By this time the wind had dropped right away, providing some nice two tone wintery images.

Tamar Bridge

Tamar Bridge

Paddling the rivers of the southwest provide a great way of clocking up the miles with minimal effort. Access is always a source of irritation to me, especially as in Scotland you can paddle any river whenever you like.

I have never paddled the lovely Lynher river which runs off Bodmin Moor to join the Tamar estuary at Saltash, so we put this right with a New Year Paddle. Top trip with a few rapids and weirs and a few trees to portage.P1050909

And then my favourite day trip down the River Torridge , with its huge variety of  sweeping bends, heavily forested sections, brief rapids and three weirs. Beam weir is the most challenging and I was all for portaging it as it was at the end of a very cold day. But Dave my companion talked us both into a shoot. Not sure he made the right decision…..P1050937

P1050965I know this is strictly a kayak-fishing site but you’ve really got to be either very hard-core or completely barking to go fishing in the depths of winter. I do find it’s pretty important to keep moving to stop the chill eating into your soul.Just a ten minute stop for lunch can precipitate a core temperature drop that takes half-an-hour to correct.

I’m sure there are a few cod around and other bottom lurkers but trolling a lure at this time of year only leads to big disappointment. And a lost lure.

Instead of fishing at this time of the year I get absorbed into ornithology. I’ve never been too sure why birdwatching  is so much more nerdy than fishing, but it is.Not that I really care. It’s still a lot more valid than Facebook or twitter.

Common Loon pair

Common Loon pair


December 24, 2011

Richard Claus

On the one hand you could spend the shortest day of the year moping about shovelling in the pies and chocolates and then feeling guilty (but then having ‘just one more’), on the other you can join in with probably the motliest band of motley kayakers ever to gather together in South West England, for a legendary paddle down the Tamar.

Fifteen kayakers  distributed between one canoe and twelve kayaks…one double and seven single sit-on-tops and four sit-ins. Christmas hats and a goofy look were the order of the day.

Austen issues some paddling tips

Hector and Eric are the picture of concentration. Richard isn't

Age range was from upper fifties , and the healthy sense of caution that goes with it, down to the tender age of twelve and the anarchical disrespect and astounding paddling skills that go with no sense of fear at all, and spending an awful lot of time on the water.

Jack and Josh. Fools....possibly. Future World Surf Kayak Champions...probably.

 As the convoy headed downstream the leading boat saw an otter but with a general noise level that would have done justice to a Motorhead concert the only thing I saw was a Kingfisher flying away…fast.


O.K. Malibu 2....probably the most popular Sit-on-top in the world

 We came to the BIG weir and the more cautious portaged while the more confident shot. Not the age split that you might have thought. Yes the boys went down like newts in a pond….but so did some of the more wizened. Like Jeremy:

Jeremy guns it. The Scrote looks on

 Josh was completely absorbed by a maelstrom of foam…..

Josh thumps the stopper

 so Tim and Harry could not turn down the challenge despite almost certainly messing up their carefully contrived ‘One Direction’ haircuts.

Tim and Harry take the plunge

 Time for a tea break at the stunning little beach below the cliff.

Take a breather

Kevin and Bob sport their camouflage gear.

Kevin and Bob

 The post tea-break session continued with thrills and a few spills over the next series of weirs. Jeremy demonstrates the concentration and commitment required:

Exemplary technique

 Team leader Dr. Dave kept his Christmas hat firmly in place till only half a mile from the end when it was consigned to the depths.

Dave…bemused. Tim and Harry….amused. Scrote….confused

And so the gloombuster paddle came to an end and the cold and damp (some a lot damper than others) retired to the obliging pub at Chipshop for chips and pavlova.

Happy to slob it now till Christmas is over. 



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