Symonds Yat April 2011

So this was to be my first Club trip, wait make that my first dedicated Kayak trip ever. When I put my name down for this I was confident that the hours in the pool would all come back to me when needed, that even if I hadn't quite got the roll down (simply put I couldn't) I had been assured that the water was low and this was going to be a perfect beginners trip.

We're the first car to the bunk house and its just what you want for a weekend of activity. Simple, clean, comfortable rooms out the back of a pub that, apparently, doesn't know the meaning of closing time.

So on to the morning's paddle, about 7.5km through the beautiful Welsh borders. The weather is gorgeous and we spend time enjoying the scenery. I'm shown how to break in and out, something I'd been shown once before on a Thames beginners paddle, and it made me realise that I should have got down to more of the Wednesday night sessions. I take my first swim, and suddenly my previous apprehension is broken. Lunch comes and goes as we sit and look out over the Yat. This just raises the anticipation and excitement for what is to follow. How was I to know that what is to follow was swimming!

Paddy and Olwen patiently take time with Gemma and I on the flat water, teaching us techniques for the moving water, crossing eddies, and in fact more moves than I can now remember. I swim, I try and stay in the boat for a T-rescue, I progress, I get tired.

For me it has been an amazing day, learning new things to do with a kayak, using the sport to see some of the gorgeous countryside and all spent with incredible people who found today's challenges run of the mill. The night ends in a similar manner as the night before but this time there is no apprehension about the morning, just a desire for it to arrive.

The Sunday was always intended to be solely at Symonds Yat, and we drive up in a convoy of cars. The lessons of yesterday it seems had not gone unlearnt, and it is some time before I become the inevitable first person to swim. After a time I start to relax and sit in a break out, enjoying the spectacle of people being taught different tricks with varying degrees of success. Lunch comes and I'm still amazed that the weather has been good all this time, it is April remember. We decide to call it a day and our car load heads back up along the motorway to London.

As far as trips go, I could not have found something better to confirm to me that this is a sport I want to be involved in (and need to get better at I must admit). Now I just need to work out how I can get on the next trip and continue to progress.

Jimbo Ryall


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