…F**k you right back, Andy and Sarah.
Here’s our latest adventure; complete with a near drowning experience, another broken phone and one-shoed shenanigans.
Here is canoeing the River Wye – Glasbury to Tresseck
The adventure began with a 4-hour drive to Hay-on-Wye that ended at 10pm with the most comfortable B&B I’ve ever stayed in. I would highly recommend Davlyn Guest House as a lovely place to stay over before or after an adventure.
We started out on Monday fresh from a good sleep and fuelled by a lovely cooked breakfast. We arrived at Want To Canoe HQ to a warm welcome and a super-cute dog called Morgan.
A quick paddle-technique lesson and we were off from our launch site at Glasbury.
Glasbury to Whitney-on-Wye
Day 1 was super-smooth sailing, and the wildlife was spectacular all day. Herons, kingfishers, jumping salmon and dragonflies everywhere. The river level was low so we grounded a few times, but soon developed our technique to shuffle free.
We rocked up at The Pound campsite in Whitney feeling like successful canoeists. Whitney’s River front pub, The Boat Inn, did a decent hot meal. We were pretty grateful for it considering it rained all evening, so the thought of cooking outside on our little camp stove wasn’t high on our wish list.
The Pound camp site is simple but nice. The shower block was lovely and clean, and the cooked breakfast available at the associated B&B was really lovely. Great sausages from the local butcher!
Whitney-on-Wye to Byecross
This was a shorter distance today, and thankfully so. About halfway along we misjudged a strong current. It swept us under some low-hanging branches and we capsized.
Andy tucked and rolled like a pro. I pretty much lost all control.
I’ve never liked being underwater, but I can swim and always assumed I would do okay in a water-based emergency. Boy was I wrong.
I must have tried to scream, or just forgot to hold my breath in time. But either way the result was that I took in some water. The shock of the cold water hitting the back of my throat caused me to have a laryngospasm. This basically means that my airway closed off to protect my lungs from becoming waterlogged.
I remember seeing the underside of the boat, but resurfacing several meters away (thank you life vest). When I was back above the water I tried to take a deep breath to recover – but my throat was sealed shut. Nothing could get in or out. I have to say it is the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced. I was conscious and willing myself to breathe, but I couldn’t take any air in.
This can’t have lasted more than a couple of minutes as I didn’t pass out. I got my airway back as Andy pulled me up straight, so that must have helped to relieve the spasm. The other casualties included Andy’s phone and one of his shoes; the sole got separated in the scuffle.
Although it was horrible in the moment, I started to find it hilarious only a few minutes later. I think I was just really relieved to be alive! You can see in this clip, I’ve totally got the giggles.
When we got to Byecross campsite I was desperate for a shower – river water isn’t really as sparkly and fresh as it looks in the Timotei adverts. I smelled pretty bad. Then Andy built a campfire and I finally started to dry out and feel normal again.
N.B If you stay at Byecross then take change with you. It’s £2 for a 10 minute shower there!
Our barrels and dry bags leaked quite badly so we did a load of hand washing which was then lightly wood-smoked by the campfire.
Byecross to Lucksall via Hereford
This was our longest day at 18-ish miles. The map said 16, but our apps said 18; I think all the zig-zagging across the current really added up.
Lots of beautiful scenery today, and chatted to a few friendly fishermen on the way past. There are lots of people fishing on the Wye, and it’s rumoured that they hate the canoeists. But we found that acknowledging them and giving them a wide berth went a long way, and some of them even gave us some helpful advice about the trickiest parts of our course for the day.
We had a long lunch break in Hereford to visit a coffee shop and a laundrette. Our clothes were still wet and stinky so that felt like a necessity. And the coffee shop was necessary for our sense of humour!
Absolutely done with paddling 18 miles, we were delighted to reach Lucksall. This campsite was absolutely beautiful – normal for the caravan club – but rather fancy by our standards. I had the BEST SHOWER EVER!
We also met a lovely family on the pitch next to us who charged our power pack and offered us tea.
Lucksall to Tresseck
Our last day was short but hard work as we were pretty stiff and achey after three days of paddling and three nights of camping. We got through on coffee, jelly babies and caramel waffles.
All in all I have to say that despite the scary capsize, this was an adventure to remember.
We planned it after watching the Ray Mears ITV program, and although I now know that I can’t light a fire like Ray, or even stay upright in a current, I would be happy to keep trying these things.
Back in London, my little brush with mortality has given me greater perspective on life. And the drowning of Andy’s phone has resulted in a trip to carphone warehouse and the purchase of a shockproof emergency phone for next time.
As before, lessons were learned and adventure was had.
See you next time!