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The Stour River Part I: A False Start

Jan 9, 2008
Kayaking along a river for me, ticks all the right boxes.
It is a great sport that everyone can do. You are in the great outdoors keeping healthy and fit. You can power paddle and have a great workout or take your time with leisurely paddles stopping as and when for a cup of tea or a beer. For me there is nothing better.

The river Stour is a sedate river in Essex England and stretches for some forty six miles. This was the river for one of my first kayaking adventures which threw up some unexpected events.

On this particular paddle I was accompanied by four friends and we each had an inflatable kayak for the journey. Four of us had Sevylor Rangers and one had a Sterns Cordova

Due to a very hot summer the river was low and the rise had practically dried out so we started from a place called Henny Street which is about three miles further down river.

As this was one of my very first river runs and the first time I had ever paddled an inflatable kayak my friends and I had little experience and had not planned our journey as well as we might have.

As any experienced kayaker will tell you what is detailed in a map can look very different from what the river is actually like. It certainly does not provide information on river heights, conditions and the effects of the weather.

After spending a few minutes pumping up my inflatable kayak and loading up all of the kayak accessories, my friends and I were ready to go. It was early morning around 8am on a beautiful sunny Sunday. We began our journey near the Swan public house, much to the amusement of its patrons.

Within seconds of being afloat we were faced with our first dilemma. The river immediately forked into two separate paths, one blocked by an over hanging tree and the other by a weir.

One of my fellow paddlers decided to try and tackle the weir which was a daunting prospect especially as he had never shot a weir on an inflatable kayak before.

Needless to say he got stuck half way down due to the rubber skegs on the bottom of the inflatable kayak and the weir only having a few inches of water running over it. Luckily he was still high enough on the weir to get out and drag the kayak back up to the top much to the increasing amusement and ever growing crowed at the pub.

We then decided to take the route blocked by the tree which we did manage to negotiate but not before getting covered in leaves and pieces of bark. Thankfully all of the inflatable kayaks made it through this first obstacle without sustaining any punctures.

No sooner had we made it past the tree we came to a dead end and found ourselves in a small pond with nowhere else to go.

Confused about what to do next a local man appeared on the riverbank that seemed to be unhappy with regard to our presence in his garden pond. To our total embarrassment it now became clear to us that we were not in fact in the River Stour but in some ones back garden hence the reason the people at the pub found us so amusing.

Fortunately the pond owner quickly realised that we were hapless and inexperienced kayakers and pointed over to where the river was, a couple of hundred yards away.

Red faced and full of apologies we dragged our inflatable kayaks into the river proper and began our journey.
About the Author
Vicki Churchill writes for a site that specializes in Inflatable Kayak Accessories providing you with excellent resources and products including reviews on the stunning Sevylor Ranger Inflatable Kayak.
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