Sue first appeared on a Cumbria Canoeists sea kayak event – determined to take a friend (with age and poor health, not on his side) to the Slate isles – lead by Jim Wilson and myself. They were so concerned not to slow down the group, that I had to chase them for 2 kilometers, to explain they were way faster than any other members of the group and please could they SLOW down.
To get involved with Cumbria Canoeists, Sue took on the role of Minutes Secretary for our Meetings and got involved with the management and decision making of the senior team, as Secretary.
Sue’s main passion and expertise lies in open boating and she was quickly involved with the formation of a Cumbria Canoeists “Open Boat Group”, taking the lead and building the initiative from nothing, to the well organised, innovative and paddler centres programme that we see today.
To help grow the Open Boat group, Sue decided that it would be the TEAM effort that would develop success, so her initiative to surround herself with other likeminded coach/leaders has guaranteed sustainability for the future.
Never “shy in coming forward” and always happy to “fight her corner” for the cause and betterment for participants. Sue has been an outstanding asset to Cumbria paddling and still is today – after she has stood down from the Lead, she is full of energy, ideas and plans to help others develop their skills, experience, enjoyment paddling can bring by developing a host of paddling opportunities for others.
We are awarding Sue an award for “Outstanding Contribution” and hope she will qualify for a National Award, where she will be treated to the lime light at a British Canoeing Awards celebration.
Mike Sunderland, Chair
Island of Muck Sea Kayak Coaching Experience August 2021
Introduction by Mike Sunderland
The sea kayak coaching week was a bit of an experiment/pilot for Cumbria Canoeists - combining the usual intro-mediate paddler series of monthly workshops, into one intensive week, rather than spreading them out over the summer.
Mac, Cedric and Mike made the connections with the Island the previous year, on a 10 day, wild camping sea kayak tour of the “Small Isles” and they decided that we should try something different, based from the amazing island of Muck, supported by the island owners – Laird Laurence and his family.
So after a June reschedule and deposits taken, cancelled places and refunds, we confirmed an August Team of participants (9) and coach/leaders (4). Followe3d by a series of planning details, Kit lists, emails, zooms etc. we all met up at the Ferry terminal at Mallaig.
"Having a base at the bunkhouse on Muck was excellent - it gave us the opportunity to really get to know the coast of the island under different conditions and enjoy the hospitality of the local community."
"One of the satisfying things having a development week was seeing the improvements across the group in the week. Swell that felt lumpy to paddle on day one became a spot for practicing rolls and rescues, rock hopping gaps which felt a tight squeeze seemed to get bigger through the week and anxieties of open water crossings transformed into quiet confidence."
"Personal highlights for me were our camping spot on the Isle of Eigg circumnavigation, watching a pair of Scottish eagles play in the wind and taking the local kids of Muck out for an evening paddle."
By Mike Sunderland – organiser and Team Leader/Coach
At long last here we all were, well the majority of the party anyway….8 or so ‘improvers’ and 3 of the 4 leaders sitting on the quayside at Mallaig in sunshine (yes sunshine!) munching lunch from the new cosmopolitan village bakehouse, a bright array of neatly packed and provisioned kayaks beside us, awaiting the call to be trolleyed down into the hold of the ferry. Cars and vans parked at a distance, along with the stresses of daily life, we were off for a week of clean living on Muck.
During the sunny ferry ‘cruise’ of a lifetime (couldn’t fault the cost at £4.60) from Rum to Canna to Muck in perfect conditions, complete with exciting wildlife sightings, each participant was given an opportunity to chat with the leaders (the M&Ms), Mike, Marie and Mike (and a day later Mac), about our aspirations, worries and goals for the week ahead, which was very reassuring. It felt as though the week was being given individual tailoring to suit the needs and ability levels of the eight lucky “improvers”.
Arriving at Port Mor on Muck and towing our laden boats up the slipway, we were given the most Muckian of warm welcomes by the locals, a 4x4 appeared to lug our huge food boxes to the bunkhouse a few hundred metres away, while we trolleyed our boats. How refreshing not to have a vehicle to worry about. The bunkhouse was in the most idyllic setting, a kayak’s length from the water in a lovely bay very sheltered on the east side if the island from the prevailing weather, a convenient moment’s walk to the cute little stone café /shop. All very comfortable accommodation – with the option to camp outside, bunk rooms for two, a seating area for whisky and jigsaws, plenty of hot water and somewhere, somehow, we managed not to squabble all week about who cooked when in the compact and bijou kitchen.
First half of the week
Having taken time to get to know us, and having paddled with a few of us before, the leaders had already put us into ability groups, and the general format for each day was to (try to) be ready at an agreed time complete with packed lunch, and then to set off in a direction appropriate to the weather and wind conditions. I was probably the least experienced paddler in the group, and my team began with “back to basics” in our sheltered bay, which was a reassuring start, given that I had had relatively little time in/on the sea (this was my second season of owning and paddling a sea kayak, which didn’t amount to much experience given covid restrictions for most of that time).
Focussing on sitting position, basic paddle strokes and brushing the cobwebs off our technique, Marie soon felt we were ready to venture out beyond the confines of our sheltered bay. The week certainly didn’t bless us with perfect sunshine and calm winds, but we all agreed that the best way to learn was to face more challenging conditions with the guidance of leaders. Conditions which unnerved me on Day One were fairly easily manageable by the middle of the week, which was immensely satisfying. We could all feel we were making good progress, and the advantage of a residential week is that you can build on your skills from day to day without returning home and forgetting it all.
The island and its coastline gave huge scope for exploring – lots of bays, inlets, rocks to work in and around ‘hop’, headlands (always with more challenging water), and beaches for collapsing on and eating lunch. On the Wednesday morning we took a little time off the water and made the pilgrimage to the highest point of the island on foot, from where you look across to Arisaig and Ardnamurchan lighthouse, visiting beautiful shell beaches on the way. Muck is a small family-owned island, only a 30-minute walk from one end to the other, and before the trip many of us had read an account of island life on Muck called “A Drop in the Ocean”, all about Lawrence MacEwan, the laird of the island and his close-knit community. An unexpected highlight of the week was an evening spent with the children of the school (14 in total!) and their families, giving them a kayak taster, which consisted of various hilarious games on the water. We came back next day to find delicious curries and cake, made for us as a thank you – it was really memorable to have been able to join in with community life.
Wild Camp Expedition (and culmination of the week)
The planned and dream ending for the week was to be an expedition with a 4km crossing over to the isle of Eigg with two nights camping and a return on the Friday, all requiring favourable conditions. As the week progressed it seemed the weather gods were on our side, but on Wednesday morning it then looked more likely we would have to wait a day longer. Nevertheless, we packed for the objective and set out using the shelter of the island to be in a position to make the crossing if conditions improved during the day.
However, without the conditions and unable to commit to the crossing we landed at Camas Na Cairidh bay on Muck, and this gave variable options that were taken for the night, a fire on the beach and night under canvas or an easy walk back to the bunk house for a little more comfort.
Thursday dawned with beautiful conditions and we were off, heading initially out to the skerry Godag where we said farewell to Marie and then steady away over and across to Eigg. After rock-hopping along the south coast and stopping to explore the Massacre Cave we reached Galmisdale, in blue sky and flat calm where half the party landed to camp across the bay from the ferry pier. The remaining contingent electing to paddle around the northern tip of Eigg and camp on the west coast. Both parties were rewarded with a serene afternoon of paddling and wild camping in idyllic locations. Unable to resist the grandeur of Eigg some then climbed to the top of An Sgurr and were not disappointed by the views.
Always at the back of all our minds for the return trip on Friday was a forecast of winds increasing through the day. Both parties consequently made early starts to gain the best conditions and eschew the back-up option of the Calmac ferry. Although the sea was much choppier on the return trip, I think I can say we all now felt at ease with the conditions, and this was due to the fantastic tuition and all we had learnt over the preceding week. As such it provided a testing but very satisfying kayaking conclusion to our week.
A celebratory meal out in the café followed that evening as a fitting conclusion to a wonderful week. And on Saturday, with new and renewed friendships, just to make sure that we vowed to return to these beautiful Small Isles, we were again treated to a lovely crossing back to the mainland seeing whales and porpoise along the way.
Big thanks to Mike, Mac, Mike and Marie (the x4 M’s) for their coaching, energy and support, plus all the other paddlers for their lovely company!
Nic and Steve Hartley – participants
This year we are nominating two volunteers for the regional AWARDS and to compete in the national Awards. One of which was presented recently.
(Sir) John McAllister
Carlisle Canoe Club
John McAllister joined Carlisle Canoe Club some ten or twelve years ago with his son Ben. Right from the outset, despite much time spent upside down, John was keen to be involved with club’s activities. Helping other newcomers getting on the water, sorting out the club’s storage, etc.
As his skilled improved he got involved with supporting coaches on the water and this led to him pursuing his UKCC L1 coaching award.
Members of the club had over the years provided safety for swimming events, this had been an ad hoc involvement, responding to request from a few providers to help. John with his usual commitment and enthusiasm got involved, ensured everyone participating had or obtained the necessary qualification, that they were covered by the necessary BC insurance and went on to brand Cumbria Swim Safety Kayakers. This was originally an offshoot to CCC, but as its reputation for has grown, paddlers around the region have come under its banner. Throughout the summer an open swim event or triathlon will be being supported, every weekend, by members of this group organised by John. As a by-product, these events create a terrific opportunity for social engagement across the Cumbrian paddling community, sharing experiences, lessons learnt, etc. during what would normally be a quiet time of the year for river paddlers. A clear effect from CCC perspective is that keeps people involved in the sport and club.
When Jim Wilson retook on the role of Club Chairman, John was asked and voted in as Vice Chair. This intention at the time was that these would be three-year appointments. Giving John an opportunity to understudy Jim and then move into the role of Chair. Sadly, this did not happen, and John found himself quite quickly Chair of CCC. Unperturbed his admirable energy and enthusiasm carried him through with the support of members of the committee and the membership in general. Constantly looking for opportunities to improve the club experience and supporting new paddlers development on the water and encouraging the utilisation of outside courses, where appropriate.
Having now moved on from the role of Chair, John is still an active member of the committee and club. Coaching twice a week during the summer, working hard to improve newcomers water confidence, running rescue sessions, etc. During this winter he has encouraged the committee to rebrand what were known as winter pool rolling sessions to improving water confidence. This seems to be having a positive effect both on attendance and allowing a natural progression into attempting learning to roll.
As you may have gathered from reading this short run down about John, his enthusiasm, energy, and commitment can be tiring to watch, but have no doubt every step he takes he leaves a better experience behind. He is now pursuing his leadership award and we look forward to the next chapter.
We awarding John an award for “Outstanding Contribution” and hope he will qualify formal National Award, when he will be treated to the lime light at a British Canoeing Awards celebration.
After a lot of discussions, listening to feedback and trying to deliver sea kayak coaching differently, the Cumbria Canoeists sea kayak team, lead my Michele Reason, launched a fresh programme.
6 experienced leaders and coaches upskilled themselves and attended a Core Coaching course and a 2 day sea kayak coach course, delivered by Fiona Corfe, formerly of WildRiver – “teaching old dogs new tricks” and updating us all on “good coaching practice”
It was agreed that Mike Sunderland and mac Knowles would take a lead on the programme.
So starting in April, a series of taster sessions were delivered to Cumbria club members or newcomers to sea kayaking (who were encouraged to join a Cumbria canoe club) based from Killington Lake, where we built up a sea kayak resource for the season – x9 sea kayaks and gear.
These were followed by:
Comments from participants
“exceeding our expectations”
“A really big thank you for getting me organised and out on the water yesterday. A great day”
Sea kayaking weekend with Cumbria Canoeists 25-26 Sept 2021
By Anika Blood – 13yrs
The canoe trip was more than just a trip around Piel Island ; it was an unforgettable experience.
The waves parting at the kayaks nose as we desperately tried to keep paddling in the right direction, the wind whipping the sea salt smells into the fresh air. The seals bobbed up and down, curious to see what we were up to.
The second day was more of a challenge putting the previous days skills to good use whilst, experiencing wind over tide. It was exhilarating.
The constant encouragement and advice from the more experienced canoeists/instructors made learning the fundamentals techniques of paddling a breeze. I would highly recommend the experience to anyone wanting to learn about sea kayaking.”
It was a weekend our family won’t forget
A personal reflection from Graeme Wild – of the 2021 STARTER sea kayak programme and the “Salty Sea” weekend
My wife and I were fortunate enough to have been able to move into the South Lakes area last winter. And it was driving past the Kent Estuary everyday that inspired me to look at kayaking as a means to meet likeminded people, to keep fit, and to explore the Lake District and the surrounding area.
A quick search on the internet opened up the range of Clubs and activities, regularly running throughout the Cumbria area. I was very surprised at the opportunities and variety of kayaking and canoeing that were activity being held throughout the year.
I joined the Lakeland Canoe Club, and was advised by a number of people I started to talk too, to contact Cumbria Canoeists, as they were running a number of events over the summer for anyone wanting to learn about kayaking. LCC have been very
supportive particularly with their instructor’s patience in the Monday evening skills
My first taste of this was on a beautiful summer evening on the Lancaster canal from Tewitfield. Sure a canal trip is not like being on the sea, but this was as super introduction and taster session into the process of learning how to handle a sea kayak, especially getting into and out of the kayak from the canal bank!
Shortly after that, I managed to enrol onto the 2 day weekend course being run at Coniston. The boat and equipment were available through Cumbria Canoeists, and this meant that I could really try kayaking in more detail before committing to buying any equipment. With this session being held over 2 days, it allowed us all to pick up some basic knowledge very quickly, and to have any one-to-one tuition that is needed. It was hosted and run expertly by the coach/leaders, and provided a great step forward in learning how to manage a sea kayak.
At the end of September, Cumbria Canoeists then ran the fantastic ‘Salty Sea’ weekend event, which was my first experience of kayaking on the sea. Based at the Roa Island Boating Club, this allowed us all easy access to the low tide sea level, and a beer or coffee at the end of day!
Being based off Roa Island, it meant we could explore the Barrow channel, Piel Island, and the Walney Seal colony each day, and to experience the huge tides in the channel.
The 2 days were incredible, and really pushed us all to improve our skills very quickly. Again it was expertly run and resourced, by us splitting into small manageable groups of 6 or so people. This allowed for one-to-one advice when required, and kept everyone reassured when the wind and tide picked up late in the day!
It truly was, a very memorable weekend!
Holding these training sessions over a weekend really does allow for you to experience, and to get a taste for kayaking, very quickly. And with them being hosted by such experienced and knowledgeable instructors, allows you to feel safe at all times, even when you are outside of your comfort zone.
I am well and truly now hooked on kayaking, thanks to Mike and the coach/leader sea kayak team at Cumbria Canoeists.
The Royal Dee is a jewel of a river, rising in the Cairngorms and flowing past Balmoral to the sea at Aberdeen. The river’s watershed routinely carries less volume than that of the Tay or the Spey and so in summer conditions is characterised by shallow shingle banks for much of its course. In spring or autumn, especially after rain, the river can provide a hugely pleasant 100 km trip with enough Grade 2-3 interest to make it sufficiently challenging for those wishing to progress from moderate water. The river is closely shadowed by the A93 and an assortment of B and C class roads for most of its paddleable length, making vehicle-based inspection of the key rapids achievable (though, with a well-marked OS map, recce’ing from bank or boat can be safely achieved without the need for a pre-recce by car).
We passed Balmoral Castle and negotiated the small and simple rapid beneath the castle’s access bridge (Grid NO 262949) before cruising uneventfully along the 12 km to Ballater, calling at the campsite upstream of the town’s road bridge to take lunch. After Ballater the river quickens as it passes through the relative narrows of Cambus o’ May, the end of which is marked by the Cambus o’ May footbridge (Grid NO 420976). We camped for the night about 1 km after the bridge.
A picture below of the intrepid explorers looking rather happy with themselves.
A group of charity kayakers supported by Cumbria Canoeists have raised money for the RNLI and Eden valley hospice.
The group set out their ambitious plans some time ago, and were approached by Mike Sunderland, with his offer of support from Cumbria Canoeists coaches. Mike arranged a series of training sessions with the group along, with support on the actual weekend of the event.
Massive well done to the charity paddlers and a thank you to the local coaches who helped with training and planning of the weekend.
The full article can be found here
Mike Hayward, of Lakeland Canoe Club (LCC) as been chosen for an Outstanding Contribution Award by British Canoeing.
October's Topic: Coaching Philosophies
Join us for the next Zoom workshop on Monday 18th October 2021, starting at 8.00pm until 9.15pm.
Hosted by Dan Wilkinson, this month's focus is Coaching (or leading!) Philosophies. We will be exploring what they are, why they matter and share some ideas for how you can identify yours.
Webinar lead - Dan Wilkinson holds a range of high-level qualifications in multiple adventure sports disciplines, including the BC Coaching Diploma, and co-author of ‘Coaching Adventure Sports’, the newly released handbook for all adventure sports Coaches.
Join Zoom Meeting: 18th October 2021, 8pm - 9.15pm. Please sign in at 7.45pm.
Meeting ID: 875 2461 6877
If you are interested in attending, it would be helpful to gauge numbers by registering your interest.
You will get 5 CPD points for joining.
Kind regards and hope to welcome you on Monday 18th October.
Cumbria RCR Team Leader
0797 5946 312
Future dates for your diary - further details to follow
- 16th November 2021 - Darryll Shaw - British Canoeing Update
- 15th December 2021 - Chris Brain - Getting to grips with SUP and SUP Awards
- 20th January 2022 - Chris Brain - TBC
- 21st February 2022 - TBC
- 22nd March 2022 - TBC
- 20th April 2022 - TBC
See the attached flyer for more information regarding presentations arranged by Lakeland Canoe Club
Sunday 26 September 2021
Carlisle Canoe Club invites you to join them on Ullswater, meeting at Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater at 10am.
Paddlers of all abilities are welcome.
You are asked to bring a drink of your choice for a toast to the memory of Jim.
Also bring some food, a suitable craft which you are able to paddle the distance you want to, in the conditions on the day.
Or simply bring a chair and sit back and enjoy good company.
The plan is simple.
To remember good times, share them and create more good memories…
Carlisle Canoe Club Chair