A Sick Feeling for First-Timers at Holme Pierrepoint

Our trip had been planned for nearly a fortnight and every day at the office seemed to drag. The only way to deal with the eager feeling in our stomach was to abuse the corporate internet access at every possible moment just to get a glimpse of where we were going.

Like most paddlers the lack of rain for several weeks was playing on our mind, so we called ahead on Thursday afternoon. Imagine our delight when the chap at the other end of the line told us the course would be on full flow..! So more internet surfing gave us the best route from the North West to Nottingham and we left at 08.30 on a breezy and chilly Friday morning. I forgot to take the route-finder printout so we just pointed roughly south and ended up taking a delightful road-trip across the Peaks. Spotting the Derwent running next to the A6 we casually decided it may be worth a gentle run at some time in the future.

Our first time at Holme Pierrepoint was not going to be a disappointment. On arrival the flow was indeed at maximum (some 26 cubic metres per second) or as we referred to it - stonking along..!! I've gotta say those changing rooms beat changing in a frigid car-park on the edge of a river in The Lakes. We had a quick walk along the course making the occasional comment about the depth of some of the holes and remarking at the youthful complexion of the British Canoe Slalom Team who were just finishing their morning training session. So all paid up and warned about the effects of Weil's Disease we hit the water and promptly got wasted..!! OK I know it's only a grade three but like I said earlier it was stonking along. I'm glad to say I only swam once when I went into a hole backwards and landed on my partner who was bobbing around out of sight of any casual bankside viewer. There's a slight embarrassment factor to swimming but the worst was yet to come - the waterproof camera shoved into the pocket on my deck hadn't held on either and by the time I realised it had broken through the Velcro seal, it had probably taken a scenic trip down the course and travelled a mile down the Trent - bummer..!! Our trip a fortnight earlier on the Crake could now only be seen in our memories too.

Several other runs followed including screaming past a group of very scared-looking A level students who hung around in eddies near the last feature of the course.

A thoroughly enjoyable but knackering day could only be finished by celebrating in the nearest pub we could find but neither of us felt like celebrating and were in danger of falling asleep over our pints. Forcing ourselves to move, we got lost on the way home and ended up in Derby but soon realised that maybe the dual-carriageway would be quicker than winding our way over the Peaks.

So Saturday morning was spent amid the crowds of my local town centre getting the photos developed (from the other camera) but I was up-chucking for Britain by ten o clock that night. Panic flooded my system as I tried to remember the symptoms of Weil's Disease. Trying to rationalise things I decided that it might just be some other bacterial infection that would only last a few hours. It wasn't until Monday morning that Rob told me he'd lost his dinner on Saturday night too that I began to think that every ache or pain could be another symptom. My stomach finally settled on Monday afternoon but I'll be off to the docs quicker than you can say "leptospirosis" if I feel even a little off-colour in the next few days!

By Andy Weeks.