Sunday 2nd of March 2014 

For those of you who haven’t been it is worth while printing off the forms that are required and filling them in before you get there. There are lots of other courses going on so completing your forms could save you a lot of time. Now they issue you with a yearly pass so you don’t have to do paper work every time you go. The changing and shower facilities are great and have lockers. The volumes of water released changes throughout the day; the details are on the website.

The group included Roy, Sue, Lu, Max, Rita, Kevin, Tim and Ian. For most of us this was an experience we had been putting off for sometime.  The weather was dull and chilly but the rain stayed away. The course is circular, so there is no need to carry your kayak…unless you capsize. To get to the start you sit in your kayak on an escalator. Some people (Max) seemed to find this challenging and found him self slipping all the way back down to the bottom!

Once at the top there is no going back. Hurtling down the course over various drops and manoeuvring past other kayakers and rafts was challenging. On subsequent drops we put more thought into finding lines and getting into the eddies. Most did it more successfully than I did. I put my new drysuit to the test twice. It was a good experience capsizing in the fast flowing water, something that I hadn’t done before but it will make me less worried about it in the future. There are rescuers ready to throw lines so it is a controlled environment in which to learn to swim. On the 4 cumecs Lu, Roy and Tim capsized once, and myself twice;  Kev went over but managed to push himself up, completing the course without a paddle.

Ian persuaded Max and Roy to try the 8 cumecs. They both took a swim on their first time round. On their second attempt they both got half way round, and after eddying up Ian suggested that Max should try and surf. This looked good for about 3 seconds until the wave just ate him up, and then spat him out again without his boat ……….it was extremely funny to watch…thanks Max! While Ian recovered Max, Roy chased max’s boat and paddle to the end and managed to complete the course. Third time round Max was triumphant – well done, while Roy swam most of it,  we watched repeatedly how not to throw lines; eventually Roy got a rope and was pulled in, none the worse for the experience.

There was plenty to watch and learn from, including a white water rescue training course. We watched them practising live bating.

Lu got her kayak stolen whilst getting changed. Thanks to Kev, Rita, Tim and security for helping look for it. The thief turned out to be Ian, who decided to try it out- Max and Roy forgot to mention it.

It was a great day. Many thanks to Ian for helping us out while there and giving us some pointers and coaching. We learnt a lot and came away feeling much more confident despite the swims. KFC never tasted so good.

Sue Cunliffe