Wednesday Paddles have allowed me to continue with my river paddling. Surrounded by rivers, canals, and lakes, so getting out and progressing with my skills is something I will always enjoy. In addition to my Dagger Katana, I paddle a Pyranha Ammo. I often had difficulty to have paddling partners free on days I can get out, with Mark often at work.
Fortunately I saw a Facebook group who paddle every Wednesday led by Penny Swaine, so arranged to join them.
My first trip up North
The meeting point was at Broken Scar Weir on the River Tees in Darlington. There I met Penny, Anne, Ian and Alan.
Penny is an amazing bundle of knowledge and literally knows every section of every river in the North of England. Making Wednesday perfect for my river paddling and my own progression.
I have enjoyed many trips with the Wednesday group on rivers I would not otherwise have the opportunity of exploring. Local paddlers know their local rivers. A principle I hold strongly when it comes to sea paddling. In my opinion, groups should not be limited to a particular geographical area.
I love to follow a river as it twists and turns through the countryside. Past dense banks of trees. With river beds full of plants and shrubs. All swaying with the current of the water as it washes through them. My first sighting of a Kingfisher on a Wednesday paddle left me in awe at how small and fast they are. It’s something you don’t appreciate from books. When the sun catches them you see a quick flash of gorgeous blue, but before you can admire it they swiftly fly downstream just above the water.
We see many Herons, standing majestically on rocks or trees. Watching our every move as we paddle and float down the rapids. I have had only one brief sighting of an Otter, but hopefully many more to come.
With Penny leading us down so many rivers, Wednesday paddles run every week. Sadly I can’t make all of them, but if I’m free I will always try to get there. I continue to learn so much and meet new friends. All with the same aim of just getting out river paddling, enjoying everything around us, and having a chat and a laugh to boot.
Learning with the best
I still don’t get every section right and I’m quickly told why. For those who don’t know her, Penny has a straight forward manner when it comes to something she clearly loves so much. If I tackle a section wrong she’ll soon chunter ‘Well that’s because you didn’t listen to me and took the wrong line’. As you watch the back of her and Clarisa bimble on down the river.
There was a period last summer when we didn’t get as many Wednesday paddles in, due to Penny having a hip replacement. Undeterred, she continued to build up her match fitness again. Keeping us all informed and updating us with photos of her bruised backside and stitches. The group are mostly retired and have such a great wealth of knowledge, I feel truly privileged to know them.
So thank you Penny and all my friends in the north, you will continue to inspire and amaze me.