14th November - River Lune / Killington Lake
After being out of a kayak for roughly 3 years after a scare, I decided it was time to get back on the water. However, the confidence didn’t last long as for my first trip out on white water in my sparkling new kayaking gear, the fear all came flooding back. I struggled to gain my confidence and feel happy and safe on the water but instead felt nervous and paranoid of falling back in the water. That was until I met Mike and Mike at Cumbria Canoeists.
Previous to the Lune Trip I had met Mike and Mike for a white water trip on the River Eden. Here I was feeling more confident with the skills and level of coaching they were delivering. The day went by and I was starting to relax more, however when we came across similar rapids to my previous experience, my confidence started to waver. Mike was reassuring and helpful with his advice and they were both eager to ensure I was comfortable at all times - not pushing me towards anything. At the end, I came off the water knowing what I needed to practice in terms of skills but also knowing that it was going to take time to overcome my fears, but with patience I would succeed.
Going away from this river trip, I went to my local pool sessions - learning the basics of falling out of my boat and being back under water in a safe environment. Here I progressed into learning how to roll and succeeded in feeling enjoyment in my boat again. Therefore, I thought it was time to go back on the river - meeting Mike and Mike again.
On the 14th of November, off I went to Killington Reservoir, feeling anxious but more confident. As decided we met there at 9.30am where we made introductions to everyone for the day. We got geared up with the plan to stay on the reservoir for roughly half an hour to ensure everyone was safe on the water. Here, we learnt important paddle strokes which would later be transferred onto the river. We used the new Water Polo area there to really practice our Sweep Stroke and our Bow Rudder paddle stroke. We ensured that we could perform these strokes on both sides to get a good turn. Alongside, ensuring we were LOOKING which way we were turning with an edge and carrying through the stroke from the bow rudder - all important steps we later learnt on the river! Once we all mastered these movements we were off again and getting ready for the river trip.
Eventually made it to the river sometime after 11am. With a quick look at the river level and a talk about what we can see, we were on the water before you know it. Here, it was tough and arm tiring paddle up the strong rapids from Eddy to Eddy practicing our ferry gliding. Here, I was getting a bit anxious and not quite trusting myself in my boat. However, before we got on the water Mike gave me a hand signal to do when I am panicking which helped to settle my nerves knowing they were there to help. As we moved up the rapids and put the strokes into practice - leaving an eddy and re entering an eddy, I was starting to struggle. But along came Mike who gave me a 1 on 1. Mike had me working constantly completing figure eights - ferry gliding and completing the bow rudder. Here we learnt that with my modern boat I didn't need to paddle as strongly as others did which instantly gave me more confidence. We worked on where I needed to angle to the boat and the precise time to use the sweep and bow rudder. Immediately this clicked and I really started to gain more confidence in being in my boat. Only 2 more times Mike said 10 times as I was ferry gliding along the rapids gaining more and more confidence. After the 10th 2 more times we finally paddled down the river to meet the others, where Mike challenged me to ferry glide into a small eddy onto the other side - which shockingly (to myself) I succeeded!
We had a spot of lunch, and walked up the river to chat about a river trip down. Here we were given 4 choices - 3 different spots to enter the river each being harder than the next and the last choice to not do it. After being advised and talking about the play of the river, we each told Mike our choice where to enter the river. I, alongside a few others, decided to enter on the last eddy where I felt confident - knowing I would commit to leaving the eddy strongly. When the others who entered the river higher up met us, we all joined along the river. We all travelled down the river happily showing off our new learnt skills and having a play. Mike left me to play and practice in the river until I felt time to join the others further down.
I finally after many years left the river SMILING!
Pictures from some of our adventures