I write to you today with slightly stiff shoulders and a small amount of muscle damage – not as drastic as it may sound, but entirely of my own doing, for this weekend we went canoeing!
Both Steve and my brother Andrew turned a certain age earlier in the year and I wanted to mark the occasion, if not a little belatedly, with something memorable. So ten of us set sail down the River Severn with nothing but a few canoes and our trusty paddles – and perhaps a couple of instructors too!
Booked through Peak Pursuits we spent two nights camping at the slightly eccentric Wingfield Arms, a lovely little family camp-site/ Caravan park just tucked away off the A5 at Montford Bridge near Shrewsbury. Good beer, excellent food (portion wise, you could never complain – just what is needed after a long day’s slog against the wind), pool, darts and a children’s play area. Quite small, smack bang on the river and unobstructed beauty around made this a great spot for our merry band – but just a touch on the smelly side as our pitch was right next to the drainage outlet. Nice.
It was a great mid point for our journeys. On the Saturday we commuted our equipment to Melverly, I believe around 8 miles West of our base – how far we actually paddled, I have no real idea, but after quite a leisurely start learning our skills (taught very well by our superb instructors Darren and Chris) we were very much put to the test by the afternoon wind. I never would have believed the difficulty in being able to make your boat go forward in such a breeze. The enjoyment for the last chunk of the afternoon was somewhat tainted by just how hard the last stretch was, but oh how you appreciated the calm when it came. It helped to put into perspective just how much fun the rest of the journey really was, I would not have changed it.
On Sunday we left directly from the camp site and headed towards the town of Shrewsbury. This was a much more scenic route with plenty of wildlife (running ducks included) to entertain, a much calmer and sheltered route and one on which we all felt an awful lot more competent. Slightly upsetting however was the fact that no one zig-zagged their way into the waiting trees and bushes on day two; Having eaten mouth-fulls of willow and receiving clothes line attacks from a variety of plant life on the Saturday it was amazing how we all managed to stay dry and an awful lot straighter second time around. Again, I have no concept of actual distance, although the rumour of twelve miles felt incredibly likely by the end of it!
Very tired, achey and need of a deep bath, we ventured home, packed to the rafters with our camping gear but vowing to make this an annual trip. So much fun was had in incredible weather. A fabulous way to spend the bank holiday weekend. Now, if I could just find some shoulder replacements before going back to work tomorrow, that would be grand!