The Great Greta Grabs Gear

I'm definitely the lucky one. I don't need to earn "Brownie Points" from the missus to go paddling but I do need to persuade my boss to let me have Friday off work. Unfortunately my paddling partner, Rob, has to do both. So we've both done the necessary negotiating and we head off to the Lakes on a Friday morning. Doh..!! I've locked my house keys in the Porch and realise I've forgotten my wallet. A quick trip to collect spare house keys from grandma and off we go with adequate funds...

So we're already an hour behind schedule but we make good time up the M6 and arrive at the put in around 11.30. The journey has given us a glimpse of the snow on the high's gonna be cold..!! Dumping the boats, we take the car to Keswick and park a stones-throw from the take out. Time for a bit of shopping (new spraydeck needed) . Ok, so no joy on the spraydeck front - let's get on with it. Hail a cab in the centre of town, 6 minutes and 8 quid later we're back at the put in. "Your round later Rob!"

The taxi driver told us that the Greta had been on red flood warning most of the week but had now gone down to a more moderate level. The water was running well on the tributary and within a few minutes we found that the Greta was indeed benefiting from the recent downpours (as well as the snow).

We had a great run but I suffered from shattering almost the entire surface area of both of my blades after two thirds of the trip....a bit of a worry considering we still had the toughest section to go..!! Paddling like a madman I approached the final sustained Grade III section with as much control as an ant paddling a log with a matchstick. I did make it into Keswick and the take-out, despite my paddles resembling a scaffolding pole that had been dipped in treacle.

The plan was to go on and have a little play at Workington Weir but when we finally arrived there it was too late and we were too knackered. However, the weir was massive - stoppers building and collapsing as we watched the water plough over the high groynes which would normally be much more exposed. We elected not to paddle but took the scenic route home via Barrow. Luckily my father works on the ships there and we were able to scrounge fish, chips and mushy peas for tea, not to mention the VERY cheap cigarettes which are also available from ships stores. Maybe that's why I can only paddle one river in a day!

More equipment got trashed on the way home when my exhaust developed a hole and more time was wasted applying gas tight sealant to a red hot back box. So, to conclude, this day's paddling has turned out to be an expensive journey that can only be repeated if all the casualties of the day are replaced (next week?)

By Andy Weeks.