Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Thanks for invaluable help

Right from the start we have had the benefit of encouragement, moral support and help of a more practical nature from family and friends. Kirstine Pearson and Mark Jordan made sure we could get to Crosby Beach at silly o'clock in time to start the trip.

Long standing NWSK paddlers Anne & Andrew Taylor welcomed us aboard their narrowboat at the end of day 1 and filled us up with plenty of tea and bowls of hot soup before allowing us to stay the night.

Another long standing NWSKer, Peter Roscoe met us about half way through day 2 and hurled a barrage of supportive phrases from the towpath. He also wins the prize for holding the video camera the most steady.

Jean's Husband, Andy Brown met us at the beginning of day 3 and took charge of the video camera whilst we portaged and paddled 'the Rochdale Nine' in central Manchester. By the end of that day as we weary 4 neared Smithy Bridge Mark Jordan and Paul Reynolds met us at the station car park and I was promptly handed a can of beer! (hurrah!) Paul then took us to his house where we spent the night. The next morning Paul was kind enough to give us a lift back to the canal.

Jean's mum and 4 year old son, Christopher came to meet us giving us a welcome morale boost. Photo Credit: John Coates

Later on day 4 a local NWSK paddler Richard Hayes came to our rescue. Liz and I had become exhausted and it looked as if we might not reach Brighouse. Richard picked us up from near where he works in Mytholmroyd and took us the rest of the way by road, giving us a fighting chance to tackle the next day with more gusto. The next day Richard came to the rescue once again by driving us and our kayaks around a 5 mile stretch of impassable drained canal with closed towpaths.

As we reached Goole and salt water once again we were thankful to be able to call upon the services of Sabina. Whilst Jean and I began the paddling of day 7, Glen and Liz stayed ashore with illness and exhaustion. They met us as we took a break beneath the Humber Bridge and helped us ashore as we landed at Paull shortly after dusk.

Finally Kirstine, Mark and Andy joined the crew of the Humber Lifeboat station to meet us at the end of our voyage before taking us home.

Monday, 23 March 2009

On the box and on the web

BBC Northwest Tonight have screened a report on the Kayak Coast 2 Coast journey this afternoon and this evening. For those who missed out the report can be viewed by clicking here.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Day 8

We have finished our trans-pennine voyage in fine style with a visit to the Humber lifeboat station at Spurn Head.

Last nights late arrival left only enough time for a wholesome pub meal and a few drinks in the Humber Tavern before bed. Today's tides wouldn't allow us to start paddling from Paull until lunchtime which gave us plenty of time to explore the old lighthouse.

Our pleasingly eccentric host Jim Deighton is an artist who paints mostly seascapes in watercolour and oils. The lighthouse is a living art gallery with a maritime theme. Jim lives amongst all that he passionate about. His artwork adorns the walls, maritime trinkets prop up most corners and a huge black cat prowls the corridors. I'll have to finish paying tribute to Jim by mentioning the gargantuan breakfast he cooked for us. This first meal of the day was enormous yet readily devoured by the hungry paddlers.

Following a digestive rest we slowly began to ready ourselves for the 8th and final act in the Kayak Coast 2 Coast saga.

We started close to high tide, pushing the last of the flood stream finding helpful back eddies alongside the extensive mudflats. From time to time huge flocks of wading birds kept us entertained and eventually the ebb stream gave us a little more froward progress.

Leaving the sandbanks behind we took on the expanse of the Spurn Bight and for a while there was little or nothing to see. When the lighthouse came into view our approach happened quickly and we soon spotted the lifeboat crew and our loved ones waiting for us. Landing after 8 days on the hoof and blade was a great relief and to be welcomed by everyone ashore was a tremendous joy.

Photo credit: Jim Deighton

After plenty of cups of tea and hot showers the lifeboat coxswain, Dave Steenwoorden presented us with a signed memento in recognition of our journey and fundraising.

Photo credit: Jim Deighton

Afterwards there only remained the sad task of packing our kit away and going to our respective homes.

Wildlife of the final day is Britain's biggest wading bird, the Curlew.

Keep an eye on BBC Northwest Tonight on Monday, and there will further tales and thank you messages from the journey on this blog over the coming days and weeks.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Day 7

We have arrived safely at the little village of Paull which is to the east of Hull on the north shore of the Humber Estuary.

In the morning it was apparent that Glen's tummy trouble had taken a turn for the worse. Liz had been suffering with back pain over the last couple of days and also took the day off leaving the paddling to Jean and I.

We got on to the murky waters of the Dutch River shortly before 1-00pm and soon began making our way down the River Ouse against the last of the flooding tide. The tide had turned in our favour by the time we stopped for a quick snack where the Ouse meets the Trent, the Humber Estuary.

Once we caught sight of the Humber Bridge it didn't seem to get any closer for what seemed ages. Finally we landed on the stony beach beneath the bridge to put on extra clothing and have a quick snack. Our spirits were lifted when we were greeted ashore by Glen, Liz and local paddler Sabina who gave us some invaluable help for the day.

Following the pit stop we got under way once again paddling with a sense of urgency in the hope of landing before dark. Once passsed St Georges dock we met with a force 3+ headwind - the last thing we needed! Despite the extra chore Jean and I landed on the mud at Paull at 6-45pm and were greeted ashore once again by Glen, Liz and Sabina.

Jim Deighton welcomed into his home in the Old Lighthous, which he runs as a B&B and before long we were all off to the Humber Tavern for a few beers and some hearty pub tucker.

Wildlife of the day is the solitary Short Eared Owl that we saw in the upper reaches of the estuary. Sadly neither Jean or I could take a photo at the time.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Day 6

Today's weather started with so much promise. There was a beautiful sunrise, and birds were singing in the woods nearby. Following a wonderful breakfast we got underway by 8-30am under a sunny blue sky, but there was a bitter chill in the easterly breeze. It soon clouded over and the temperature became more like you would expect at this time of year. Yesterday we paddled in t-shirts, by mid morning we had donned all the layers at our disposal.

There were only 4 locks to portage but the distance of over 37km combined with the cold headwind made this a long and difficult day. We passed Castleford, Knottingley and Ferrybridge which are very industrial and grim. A while later we passed Eggborough and Great Heck which have wonderfully amusing names. After the last lock we had a 2 hour slog into the wind before arriving at Goole all of us tired, cold and hungry.

Wildlife of the day is the Kingfisher. As we made our way past Castleford we saw plenty of them but struggled to take any photos.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

day 5

This has been a day of contrasts. Most of us started on the road assisted by Richard who once again has come to our rescue.
The canal is currently un-navigable in the Cooper Bridge area; firstly because a weir has collapsed leaving the canal without any water, and secondly because a bridge is being replaced which means that the towpath is closed. Glen, Liz and I got a lift with the kayaks to Mirfield. Jean chose to run the distance so as not to leave a break in the route and keep some sense of completeness.
There has been far greater distance between locks today but the take outs and put ins have been quite challenging, the crux was a 5 foot wall to climb out on to the bank.

The weather has been amazing considering the time of year. We have been roasting in our kayaks whilst paddling hard, but also finding time to enjoy some of the mellow moments reminiscent of sultry summer afternoons.
Wildlife of the day is the Gnat and having suffered them and even inhaled a few, we were happy to find some ending up as spider fodder.

Finally we have made it to the Bridge Inn just outside Castleford where we have been made to feel heartily welcome.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Day 4

Eager to get on with the task ahead we got on the water at Smithybridge before 8 o'clock. 4 miles and the last 12 exhausting, uphill locks lay between us and the summit of the Rochdale Canal.

The summit celebration was brief and muted by the prospect of yet more locks to carry our kayaks around. At least these would be down hill.

The Great Wall of Todmorden loomed over us as we made our way to Hebden Bridge. We Reached Mytholmroyd by 4 o'clock by which time Liz and I were exhausted from portaging and could go no further. Richard, a local paddler offered Liz and I a lift to the Black Bull in Brighouse whilst Jean and Glen carried on with the remaining 9 miles.

Jean and Glen finished the day's paddling with a portage of a questionable and discreet nature.

Once reunited we celebrated with a fish supper washed down with a pint of Guiness.

Wildlife of the day is this deceased Brown Trout destined for someones little dishy.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Day 3

Today has been a gruelling challenge. We have travelled 27km and portaged 44 locks and gained around 120 metres in height.
We started by paddling, carrying and trolleying our kayaks around the 'Rochdale 9' locks in central Manchester. The steep ascent continued through the inner city areas until we reached Chadderton where things got a little easier. The weather has been wonderfully sunny, almost too warm for this sort of intense activity.
One of more amusing obstacles was this low level swing bridge near Milnrow.

Wildlife of the day - Canada Geese, awfully noisy and absolutely everywhere.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Day 2

Sunday dawned calmly with clear skies and smooth waters. This would be a canal day with no portages and therefore quite unique. The Cheshire countryside is beautiful with gentle rolling hills, woodlands and fields.

Just east of Lymm we reached the Barn Owl Inn where we enjoyed a well stacked carvery lunch washed down with gallons of steaming tea.

After lunch we progressed into suburbia. Industry soon took over and before teatime we reached the central Manchester and the YHA at Castlefield. The staff were a great help. They found us some secure storage space for our kayaks and joined in with carrying kit, providing help when we most needed it.
Wildlife of the day is this strange plant called Butterburr.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Day 1

Following our 6am start we reached Cosby beach just before 7am, where the Westerly wind was gusting force 5-6. The conditions where choppy on the sheltered channel, but manageable. Having interviewed us for a future North West tonight item BBC reporter, Colin Sykes, waved us off as we paddled towards the comparatively sheltered shore of New Brighton.The upper reaches were exposed to the strengthening Westerly, and we managed a downwind surf to Hale Head. Liz chose the next stretch for a gust-assisted impromptu swim, before we passed the Runcorn-Widnes bridge and landed at Wigg Island.
The remaining one hour paddle on the Bridgewater Canal brought us uneventfully to Preston Brook where Andrew and Anne welcomed us aboard their narrow boat, and where our first day has now ended.
Wildlife of the day is Barnacles - because these are the only living things that didn't get blown away.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Maps, maps and more maps

With regard to navigation this is not a particularly challenging trip, but it would feel wrong not to have Ordnance Survey maps for all of the areas that we will be paddling through.

We will also be using the Collins /Nicholson waterways guide to 'Northwest & Pennines' for reference and added interest. It should be possible to monitor our progress on this google map too.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A Windswept Weekend

With one week to go before we head off on our trans-pennine voyage Jean, Glen, Liz and I met up with some friends from North West Sea Kayakers on Anglesey. This would be a good opportunity to paddle together and finish off the last of the planning.

It was a grim and blustery weekend but we managed to find shelter on the east coast close to Moelfre.

Glen soon got settled in to the P&H Capella 167 that he will be using for the trip.

The P&H Quest LV that I will be using is performing well too.

Our fundraising for the RNLI Lifeboats is going well with the total rising to £775 as I write this.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Preparation, Training & Sponsorship

Its three weeks before the start of our adventure and we have already collected £265 for the RNLI via our charity web page on 'Justgiving'. The diverse nature of our day jobs makes it quite difficult for us to meet regularly but we managed a short paddle together along the Bridgewater Canal on Saturday morning.

We have also managed to enlist some support from the canoeing and kayaking industry. Thanks to 'Peak UK' we will have some lightweight clothing from their 'Tourlite' range. 'Kayaks North West' have teamed up with 'P&H Custom Sea Kayaks' as trip sponsors and will be supplying us with 2 kayaks for the voyage and will welcome us to their premises beside the canal at Runcorn at the end of our first day. They took particular interest in 'Kayak Coast 2 Coast' because the unique nature of the journey and our involvement in their local waters.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Meet the team #4 Jim Krawiecki

Jim has paddled on many of the exciting white water rivers of England, Scotland and Wales, as well as many of those in the French Alps. A passion for Sea Kayaking combined with an interest in writing and photography brought about the first comprehensive Guidebook to the Welsh coast, for sea kayakers. This popular title is called 'Welsh Sea Kayaking' and was published in September 2006 by Pesda Press.

This trans-pennine journey links the east and west shores of northern England and forms part of the research for a new sea kayaking guidebook. The book will be called 'Northern England & the Isle of Man' and will be available in early 2010.

Meet the team #3 Jean Brown

Jean was brought up spending all of her holidays in the outdoors and has never looked back. Before becoming a keen sea-kayaker Jean knew the UK and other parts of the world though the eyes of a climber.

This has made kayaking trips to Norway and Shetland, in particular, all the more interesting. A keen spirit of adventure makes this journey an exciting prospect.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Meet the team #2 Glen Parry

Glen has over 8 years of both inland and sea kayaking experience. Having extensively explored the coasts of England, Scotland, Wales and Brittany, (northwest France) he is now looking further afield, to colder climes and is a keen supporter of the Greenland 'Kayaks to Schools' project.
More recently Glen has taken up sea kayak racing. Following a fair result in the 'Coquet Island Race' on the Northumberland coast, he managed to step up a gear and take first place in the 'Seaquest' event at Fleetwood in September 2008.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Meet the team #1 Liz Jordan

Liz is no stranger to long distance kayak journeys. In May and June of 2007 she completed a 200 mile journey along the west coast of Scotland to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Liz plays Clarinet for the Halle and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras amongst others, and has travelled to far flung corners of the globe on a number of orchestra tours. Some of this world travel has fuelled a hunger for adventures into the mountains of Tibet, Nepal, Chile and Argentina. Fitting experience for a journey along the waterways crossing the backbone of Britain.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Plotting and Scheming

The plans for 'Kayak Coast 2 Coast' are gradually coming together. Distances have been measured, tides (for the tidal sections) have been checked and accommodation is being booked. This is a journey of exploration with a difference. Most sea kayak voyages take place in wild places far from our homes, often in different countries sometimes on the other side of the world. Running a close parallel to the walkers / cyclists 'Trans-Pennine Trail', our journey will pass right through the very cities and suburbs from which we, and thousands of other outdoor enthusiasts seek escape every weekend.

The idea that an adventure in the outdoors can begin from a city bound doorstep is not new. The idea for this journey came from my early paddling trips on the Bridgewater Canal. In the beginning I would take my kayak to the canal on a portage trolley and paddle 30km to keep myself fit in the winter months. The challenge in paddling 292km in 8 days means paddling an average of 36-37km per day. On days 3-6 we will encounter over 120 locks. We will have to lift our kayaks out of the water and carry them (portage) around each lock or set of locks. We will finish each day in a pre-determined place, normally a bed and breakfast or pub with rooms where we can stay for the night.