My usual canoeing activities are interspersed with arranging and attending the CwaV Canoe with a View forum meet-ups. At the beginning of October it is time for the annual “End of Summer Meet” or EoSM as it is fondly referred to. Over the years we have tried to arrange to be at a different venue, including Windermere in the Lake District, Herefords River Wye, the Llangollen canel in Wales, and most recently Coniston again in the Lake District! For this edition though we headed south down the A1 to Stibbington near Peterborough, to a little field right on the bank of the river Nene. I had already paddled on this beautiful river back in the summer Summer on the Nene by Canoe so I was very much looking forward exploring it a bit more!
On arrival at the site I was greeted by one or two who had beaten me to it and it wasn’t long after I had pitched up that canoes were soon on the water for a gentle, shortish paddle to the village of Wansford where we hopped out for a little wander to explore and visit the shop. Back at the site though, all was quite with only a few choosing to arrive on the Thursday. Chatting around the fire was the order of the evening!
Friday dawned bright and sunny, and a little breezy. Alick and Alex my often paddling companions opted for a paddle upstream. while I busied myself with preparing a stonking fry-up for my breakfast; well I am camping after all! Suitably stodged to bursting point I took to the water for a brief paddle on my own and headed downstream a little ways; before being beaten by the wind.
The afternoon and evening saw a few more arrive, and some late into the night. With tents and vans pitched and in position, the gathering around my firebox grew, almost to the point where the fire was of no effect but for the addition of a tarp; set up to help reflect a little heat, and social chatter and much Pringle sharing was a little more bearable as the night time chill set in.
An overcast start on Saturday morning was just a taste of what was to come. Rain and more rain! there had been an attempt to get on the water but the first downpour of the day soon had folk hurrying for shelter. Time to wait it out a bit. some though decided to give paddling a miss and head off toward town for breakfast and a ride on the trains. For the rest of the rain eased off a little eventually, giving us time to launch and get underway at last., and heading upstream. The constant drizzle was not putting anyone off and we were soon at Wansford bridge and a shout up for a brew-stop and leg stretch was made, making use of the bridge for shelter.
Once refreshed and with blood-flow restored it was time to carry on. But feeling a little damp, and a bit fed up with the weather, by wansford lock I called it a day. Leaving the rest of the group to portage past the lock and carry on, I headed back to the site, but not before stopping off at the bridge to dodge yet another downpour!
Drizzling one minute, downpour the next but I tried to make the most of my time alone on the river and started to enjoy it a little more. As I made my way back the rain started to ease off, and got noticeable warmer. Eventually giving way to glorious sunshine just as I neared camp. It’s always the way.
The land party arrived back at the site from their excursion. Sean, a long-time friend and paddle companion had brought along a guest for the weekend. A lovely gentleman by the the name of Philip.
Philip was also partially sighted and had never been in a canoe before and Sean wanted to give him a little taster, and a paddle in the afternoon sunshine was just the right opportunity. With Sean seated up front and giving guidance and encouragement to Philip in the stern we headed once more upstream enjoying a leisurely, and thank heaven, a dry paddle . I think the whole experience got a big thumbs up from Philip.
The evening once again was spent around the firebox, but the temperature had dropped somewhat, and a few had opted for staying in nice warm vans. While a few hardened types sat up till late. I finished up earlier than normal and hit the sack around 11.30.
On the final morning we were greeted to a frosty start. definitely a little crunchy underfoot. But the sunrise was well worth the chilly start. And a truly fitting end to a great weekend spent among friends.
Until the next time!