Girls, Boys and Toys

I’ve just returned from what I hope is the first of many 2011 “multi-activity” weekends. They are the kind of weekends that you chuck every toy in your possession into the car and head to where you think the water is. I loaded pretty much the entire garage into my friend Chris’ car (the tardis). If my housemate had opened the garage door and peered in, he might have thought we’d been burgled given the amount of gear missing. Toys included MTB bikes, creek boats, surf boats, camping gear and climbing gear. After the usual flurry of texts and phone calls at 7 am we set off for the Erme on south Dartmoor.


Photo: Chris and Dave talk lines on the first main rapid of the Erme.

Over 35 mm of rain had fallen on Dartmoor overnight and as we arrived in Ivybridge the rain lifted and out popped that sun thing that we haven’t seen for a while. Fantastic. After a mile or so we came to the first rapid worth inspecting. A little drop with a bit of a tow-back. Chris went first and ended up tail squirting out of the hole. Dave went next and had a pretty good line. I thought to myself that I would try something different so I went a bit further left than both the boys with the thought of flaring off the right.


Photo by Dave Martin: SPLAT!

Now, the act of flaring generally involves putting in a flare stroke- I somehow forgot this key stroke and if you look at the above piccie you’ll see the consequences of just that (a splat!). I love the photos that Dave took and I really, really enjoyed that rapid. Too much fun. Then onto  few more gorgey, slidey, slidey things.


Photo: Dave leading the way

Then into the gorge proper. Now, people have always talked to me about the Erme gorge. It is indeed worth its reputation. It’s pretty much continuous class IV. Dave, Chris and I scouted the whole thing and then decided 3 teams of 1. However, the rapids proved less consequential than they did from above and there were collections pool, should they be required. Thankfully this trip they were not needed.


Photo: Dave scouting the entry rapid into the gorge.


Photo: Chris in the middle of the gorge

The fun wasn’t over then. There was one last rapid- just under the bridge -as we entered town. I was leading  and as I went through the last hole I got sucked back. Uh-oh…then ensued the first comedy moment of the weekend. As much as I payboat, its not often that i get stuck in holes unintentionally in my creek boat. I tend to try to avoid them. I apparently don’t deal well with being stuck and started shout like a girl to Chris for help and a line. Eventually the playboating training kicked in and I worked that hole for a a good minute or so till it let me go…at least I gave the yokals something to chat about.


Photo: Chris on the last rapid of the gorge.

After running shuttle we followed up the boating with activity number 2- a mountain bike ride back up the river to scout what we’d just paddled. Bring on comedy moment number 2. I’m just learning to use my SPD pedals and, yes, I neglected to unclip at a road junction while stopped and fell, still attached to my pedals, onto the curb- just a few metres from where i’d exercised my girly vocal cords, calling for help just 1 hour earlier. More entertainment for the same yokals of Ivybridge. Im selling ring side seats next time….or wearing a helmet cam. We headed to exmoor and a spot of camping, exmoor ale and a very starry night away from the city glow and back to nature.

Sunday we checked levels and deemed East Lyn would for sure be a goer (which was our original plan). Levels were low-ish at about 50 cm on the gauge at Watersmeet. Still very paddleable though.


Photo by Dave Martin: Me on the rapid before the gorge.

The rain was fading and gave way to sun as we moved down the river. It was excellent that we actually had low enough flows and time to take photos in the gorge.


Photo: Chris entering the gorge


Photo: Chris on a rapid in the gorge


Photo by Dave: me on a rapid in the gorge

After a full English at the get out of the East Lyn, we headed (on the advice of Steve C.) to Saunton for a late afternoon surf. The swell was a good height; the wind strong and cross shore.


Photo: Chris and Dave  on Saunton

We managed to catch a few good rides before heading home to go to sleep with a smug and  satisfied smile, safe in the knowledge that we’d made the most of the British outdoor life, weekend warrior styleeee.


Photo: Waiting for some waves so get my fins outta the sand and on the face of a wave, where they belong

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