Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Pet Spider

The onset of cold weather,
The change of the season,
Brings in new creatures,
And I search for no reason.

The storm, wind and rain,
Brought me my pet spider,
He eats all the flies,
And keeps me from myther.

I provide food and a home,
from the hustle and bustle,
He shelters by my window,
Beside the bottle of 'Mr Muscle'.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Lancaster Round

Last Saturday Peter, Maurice, Dell and I set off in atrocious wind and rain in search of yet another triumphant mission of endurance and self punishment.

The Lancaster Round is an extraordinary paddling trip which combines sea, river and canal to complete over 26km in a loop in the Lancaster area.

The trip starts and finishes at Glasson Dock where the estuary of the river Lune opens out to the Irish Sea. We paddled up the estuary on the last of an unusually high flooding tide making our way into the historic part of old Lancaster. Leaving Lancaster downstream behind us we paddled over and above Skerton weir, normally a 2 metre drop but well submerged by the high tide.

Kayaks had to be carried up a steep path from the river Lune to the Lancaster Canal 30 metres above before we could continue the next stage of our journey. The Lancaster Canal runs right through the old industrial heart of Lancaster and we found ourselves paddling amongst huge mill buildings that are at various stages of well deserved re-development. Unfortunately we had no time to stop at any of the fine pubs en route. I feel a return will be appropriate when we have longer daylight hours.

Finally the canal leads out into the beautiful Lancashire countryside and for the most part we were sheltered from the harsh prevailing weather.

Once we arrived at the village of Galgate it was time to turn right onto the Glasson Branch of the Lancaster Canal. It was to prove the most exhausting stretch. We were now paddling northwest right into the prevailing icy wind, and there were 6 locks to portage. Once we arrived after dark back at Glasson Dock we treated aching bodies to hot chocolate beside a nice warm fire in the Victoria Pub........... Perfect!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hinkes' 8000 metre descent to the welsh coast

I spent last weekend working for the British Mountaineering Council at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival. Manning a small show stand in a draughty marquee all weekend is the sort of experience that could test the resiliance of the toughest. Wise and well travelled men can look lost in such places, those who have scaled the heights have been brought to their knees and hardy paddlers have all but drowned in their own tears in their attempts at dealing with the public. What chance would I have?

....... A warming glow .......

Last year's challenge was padded by the close proximity of 'John Mark and Robbo's Easy Drinking Whisky Co.' and their never ending supply of free samples, but I knew that this time they wouldn't be there. So imagine my delight upon arrival, at the sight of our neighbours for this year's festival weekend.

.......... and we all got along just fine, despite our differences (whatever they were).

From the mountains to the sea....

Among the greats of mountaineering that graced the BMC stand was Alan Hinkes who is the first British mountaineer to complete all of the world's 14 peaks over 8000 metres. Having marvelled at the views of South Stack and the sheer cliffs of Gogarth Bay, Mr Hinkes (left) enquired enthusiastically as to the nature of further adventures depicted in the 'Welsh Sea Kayaking' guidebook.

The reminiscence of his early days as an outdoor instructor in Northumberland included tales of paddling in huge seas and tide races around the Farne Islands and Lindisfarne. The subject moved on to future projects and the possibility of a sea kayakers guide to the shores of northern England and the Isle of Man grew with each golden sip of Orkney malt.