All posts by Sue Ambler

Autumn 2017 Trip List

Below is the list of proposed padding trips from October 1st  to Christmas. The actual river may change due to weather and river levels, but we hope to have alternating easy and harder trips throughout the season. There may also be additional trips which will be advertised.

Where you share cars, please pay your share of fuel costs and don’t wait for the driver to ask. Some of the trips are quite a drive.

 If you use Club kit, be sure to pay your £5,  but also enter the details of the kit on the sheet. Note all the equipment has numbers on them and this needs entering too. Please make Mario’s job of Kit Secretary easier, so we can trace any missing items.

Monday   A very short email will be sent out on Monday to all club members advertising the proposed trip and its difficulty for the following weekend. No reply required.  (It will also ask for volunteers to lead the trip by Wednesday.)

 Thursday   An email confirming details (river, meeting place, times etc) to be sent by noon Thursday to all members. If you are interested please reply at this stage

 Friday   Anyone wishing to go should reply by email / text by the end of Friday, please indicate where you intend to meet.

Saturday   A confirmation email / text, including who is meeting where, will only be sent to those going on Saturday.

Bideford Canoe Club Autumn Trips 2017

Date Trip type Proposed river, subject to change Suitability
Sun 1 Easy trip Torridge –  Blinsham to Taddiport (4 miles) A very easy trip suitable for anyone
Sun 8 Proficient Dart Loop Suitable for competent paddlers
Sat 14 Leaders Refresher Dart, Lyn or Teign Refresh for leaders or support paddlers
Sun 15 Easy trip Exe – Black Cat to Bolham (5.5 miles) A very easy trip suitable for anyone
Sun 22 Proficient Walkham or Teign Suitable for competent paddlers, an easy pro paddle
Sun 29 Improver Barle – Dulverton to Exebridge (3 miles) Suitable for most paddlers, a nice little paddle
Sun 5 Expert/proficient Erme Suitable for expert paddlers
Sun 12 Improver Barle – Tarr Steps to Dulverton (6.5 miles) A small step up for beginners but worth it
Sun 19 Proficient Teign Suitable for competent paddlers, an easy pro paddle
Sun 26 Improver Exe – Bolham to Tiverton (3 miles) Suitable for most paddlers
Sun 3 Proficient Dart Loop Suitable for competent paddlers
Sun 10 Improver Barle – Tarr Steps to Dulverton (6.5 miles) A small step up for beginners but worth it
Sun 17 Expert/proficient Lyn if possible Suitable for competent paddlers
Sun Xmas Eat & drink to excess


Falmouth Sea Kayak Trip 2017


 Pete’s  Diary


Friday 19th May

Folk started arriving at the Tregedna Farm site, which is close to two beaches and very relaxed. Nice enough facilities and just £8.50 a night/person. Quite a bit of alcohol flowed and we were bothered by midges.

Saturday 20th

Quiet and mellow was the request for the first weekend so we launched, with some difficulty, in Gweek at the top of the Helford River estuary. Setting for romantic novels this was a lovely float, with a following wind and outgoing tide. Mario led, assisted by Emily. As we approached the sea it became more lively and the last section round to Maenporth beach was more challenging than mellow. Coffee and ice-cream gave succour to the needy. 10 nautical miles done.

Sunday 21st

The plan was to go up Carrick Roads to Malpas, with a pushing tide and following wind. While shuttles were driven, nervous paddlers gazed at a choppy sea which promised a challenging start. 15 paddlers eventually launched at Swanpool, led by Emily and Mario in two groups. No capsizes though a few anxious moments and soon we were round the corner into a sheltered cove for a breather. Things settled down as we headed north up this big ria or flooded valley. Avoiding the many sailing vessels and the odd ferry we came across ocean going ships anchored. A rocky beach was all we could find for a short lunch break before pressing on to Malpas. With a delayed start we did not want to be fighting the tide. At Malpas we had nearly reached Truro, covering 11.5nm.

Monday 22nd

As the wage slaves returned to work a smaller group of ten headed for Coverack, aiming to paddle to Maenporth by way of The Manacles, a notorious set of rocks where many sailing ships have foundered. Five lingered there to practice rocky landings with a one metre swell adding zest to the challenge. We all made it onto the rocks and eventually back to our boats, learning much about rope handling. Richard led the day. One poor soul suffered with sea sickness in the lumpy conditions. On the way into Maenporth Richard noticed two hapless SUP novices being blown out to sea, so throw-tows to the rescue. More coffee and ice-cream.

Tuesday 23rd

After three days of trips we needed a shorter day, so Paul led eight of us from Maenporth to Swanpool and back, practising scenarios and rescues. A total panic capsize led to a swamped bulkhead compartment and a rescuer swimming. Much amusement but some good learning too.

Wednesday 24th

With a strong south easterly wind we transferred over to the other side of the Lizard for a trip from Mullion to Kynance Cove and return. Spectacular cliffs and some adventurous rock-hopping illuminated the trip. Mario led the group all day. Kynance is worth a visit as it has caves and sandy beaches with sea stacks. At Mullion we grabbed teas and ice-creams just as the tea shop closed, at just after 4pm!

Thursday 25th

A visit to the SeaKayakingCornwall shop gave us useful information and people flexed their plastic to buy bits of kit. We had intended to go to the west coast for a surf day but discovered our own Maenporth had surf up to one metre and few other surfers. We enjoyed some excellent rides and very few capsizes. The mission was clear. Get those rolls sorted.

Friday 26th

We were joined by Adam, our distant member from Teignmouth and Alex, a 4 star trainee from Germany, here to do a course with SKC the following week. With easterly winds we headed over to Portreath to paddle down to Godrevy Point and back. Sunny conditions and a west coast swell made for a fantastic day with some excellent rock hopping for this competent group . At Godrevy we landed on the tourist beach and harvested some excellent mussels for tea. Godrevy Island has a lighthouse and a dramatic passage through the cleft which splits the island.
18738842_696848153839390_6190255363101003106_oEven bigger mussels on the walls as we flashed through the gap. For the last section to Portreath we faced a strong wind at F6 but clawed slowly round into the bay to land through minor surf.

Saturday 27th

Ian arrived from Dartmouth but a planned trip round the Lizard was postponed due to wind. Instead we concocted a paddle out of Church Mylor round to Zone Point.

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This passes the lighthouse of Fraggle Rock fame and gives access to some interesting caves, one of which we backed into for some distance.


Clive’s shoulder ruled him out for the day and the rest of the week.

Sunday 28th

On our last day six succeeded in rounding the Lizard, having launched from the iconic Cadgwith Cove, setting for that fishing series on telly. Clive and I drove, so no shuttle required.


Dave and Mario led jointly. We  tracked them past the Lizard, after which the lumpy conditions settled down. The drivers went off for lunch, nursing injuries, while the paddlers cruised round past Kynance to Mullion. We introduced our new German friend to the delights of a cream tea before breaking camp and heading home.

In all a great trip which catered for all levels of ability. Thanks to the aspirant 4 star leaders who did the work to make it safe and enjoyable.


Summer Programme 2017

Regular features

Monday – 2 Star Training evenings from 8 May through to July. This aims to equip people new to paddling with all the basic skills and strokes you need to be a competent member of a group on placid water. This year it will include a weekend feature (15/16 July) at Upper Tamar Lake, where we will do four sessions on open boating. There is an option to camp over, have a BBQ and enjoy a great new location with friends. The training will comprise of 10 sessions with an optional assessment. Details and costs to follow by email to members. [Contact Paul Greenway].

Wednesday – Indoor Pool Sessions….Indoor pool sessions at West Buckland School, through till mid May, then starting again in September, for intro work and rolling etc.( One more session on May 24th.)  Email at the beginning of the week that a session is on, to members. [Contact Sue Ambler].

Thursday – Introductory to Moving Water and slalom ….Thursday evenings from April onwards, introductory to moving water at Newbridge on the river Taw. This is tidal water so no access issues, though an occasional high tide may disrupt. Flows are gentle but great for learning the basics before next winter’s white water trips. Details will be by email to members. [Contact Doug Smith].


Thursday – 3 Star Sea Kayaking ….already been advertised and underway. [Contact Pete Thorn]

Friday – Kayak Surfing….Friday evenings at Westward Ho! at Sandymere beach. Introduction to kayak surfing when conditions are good and waves are small. Otherwise a great opportunity for the Club to meet and cream some waves. In the case of no waves there will usually be a short coastal paddle option. Details issued weekly by email or Facebook, conditions dependent. [Contact Pat Williams, Nathan Mower, Tommo]

Ad Hoc – Junior Training Sessions.….End of May onwards, introduction to moving and open water to learn some basic skills and have some fun for the juniors.DSC_2651

Venues will be the Taw at Newbridge,  Torridge at Puffing Billy,  estuary and coast, subject to conditions. Full details will be by email. [Contact Pat Williams].

Ad Hoc Trips…. Short notice trips on the estuary, rivers or coast, on weekday evenings or weekends, subject to conditions. Details by Facebook and/or email.

Weekday Evening Sea Kayak Trips….Weekend or weekday evening sea kayak trips. If you are interested in getting into sea kayaks, let Pete T know and get on a circulation group. During the season we will offer introductory sessions, basic training and rescue sessions. Otherwise there will be trips at a variety of levels. Details by email to group. [Contact Pete Thorn, Clive Doe]

Dates for Your Diary

(Most trips below are not official club trips but are based on a group of friends and peers.)

Falmouth Sea Trip..…  20-28 May. Easy and intermediate trips will be lead,  advanced trips will be by peer group. Details to follow but will be based on a campsite near this stunning coastline. People can come and go, as diaries permit, joining groups exploring the coast, islands and tide races. Sea kayaks only, with some experience required. [Contact Pete Thorn]

Upper Tamar Lake …..15/16 July. This is the weekend of 2 Star open boating but camping open to others with a big lake to explore.13528240_625507920951431_4768662026565727922_o

 Bring your own boat and camping gear. [Contact Paul Greenway]

France Slalom Trip ….  21 July – 3 Aug. Not a Club trip but a group of peers, looking after themselves and each other. Paddling and camping at two slalom courses close to Lyons. Water is mainly grade 2 with some grade 3 drops. A chilled out and laid back experience. Based on car share, but people can come and go as needed. [[Contact Tommo]

Youth Club Sessions ….These are three sessions we provide for the Youth Club as a condition for using their premises. We will need club members to help run and provide safety for these sessions. [Details to follow]

Lundy…. Trip Date to be decided. A weekend camping on Lundy and circumnavigating the island by kayak. River kayaks will cross to Lundy by boat, sea kayaks will paddle there and back. A stunning weekend with scenery and wildlife but weather/tide dependent. [Details to follow]

For information on these and other short notice opportunities, keep an eye on your emails and the Club Facebook page.

2 Star course starts May 8th 2017

Each year we try to run a 2 star training course which aims to bring relative beginners up to a standard where you can be a competent member of a group on a moderate/easy trip.

If you are a current paid up member of BCC you are welcome to apply for a place this year, we will be starting in early May.

There are ten sessions in all, six evenings, (usually Mondays from 18.30 to 20.00) and four sessions covered in one weekend.  All of these sessions will involve meeting at the club hut to get a boat, kit and any additional equipment required. The weekend will have a focus on open boating which is part of the syllabus.

Upper Tamar Lake –Open boat training 2016

Click here  to view a copy of the syllabus so you know what is involved. In past years, participants have ranged in age from 11 to 70+.

In the first week, we will meet on the Monday evening to book out and organise any equipment required and run a dry session.  The aim of the dry session is to run through some keys points which will include general safety, terminology and basic paddling techniques etc. On the following Wednesday May 10th (club night) from 19.30 to 21.00 at West Buckland pool, we will run through capsize drills and rescues. This pool session will enable us to carry out the wet work in comfortable surroundings. Once the pool session has taken place we will be continuing the training in an open water environment at various locations, subject to tides and weather conditions.  These sessions will take place on a Monday evening. The weekend open boating dates will be confirmed nearer the time.

The cost for this training will be just £50 and will cover the pool hire cost and any coaching expenses. This will be payable at the first session and will include all use of equipment.

Places on this training will be limited and priority given to members who haven’t had an opportunity to do this level of training in the past.  Please email paul* to book a place on this course. 

Any club members who attended the two star course last year and now wish to take their assessment will be welcome to join the group to refresh their skills prior to the assessment.


Sun, surf and pain au chocolat!

Team France 2016 


Eight members of the Bideford Canoe Club headed off to meet up just south of Lyon at the manmade slalom / white water course at Saint-Pierre-De-Boeuf  . We arrived late at night in darkness after arranging for the entrance barrier access card to be left hidden for us so we could drive straight to our pitches. The tents were erected by the light of our head torches and we soon settled down for a well-deserved drink before bed.


The morning greeted us with delightful sunshine and a clear blue sky as we headed off to the local bakery for some flutes and pain au chocolate: this became a morning ritual!! After breakfast we booked in and kitted up for the first run down the course.


We had a mixture of Creek, Play and Slalom boats as the water suited all types. St Pierre offers some lovely warm up areas and parts of the river were perfect for practising and improving all of those basic skills that are essential for when you move up to the faster flowing water.


We were all soon bashing down the best of what the course had to offer from grade 3 drops to a gentle paddle along the lake at the bottom. The best feature of this place was the travellator which took you from the lake back up to the top of the course!


After three excellent paddling days we moved camp 1.5 hours away to our second destination, Sault Brenaz . This course offered a twistier route with some slightly more challenging features and drops. The weather was holding at 35 degrees with the water temperature tipping just over the 20 mark so no worries if you took the odd swim. Skills had improved and we soon found our favourite set of play waves. Playtime for some!


Three more days of fun and merriment was enough for some and car by car people started to head off home. Some took a day to explore the neighbouring hills and villages by foot, some with bicycles went further afield…the beauty of the trip was that you could do as little or as much as you’d like, come and go as you please….it was a holiday after all!

Article written by Tommo 🙂


Dulverton Slalom 2017….Pete’s report

White water, rapids and adrenalin. It was all happening in March in the heart of Exmoor.


The third annual Canoe Slalom competition was held on Sunday 12 March on the River Barle at Dulverton. This town is a canoeing honey pot for lovers of moderate white water, with groups coming from all over the south of England and South Wales in the winter in pursuit of excitement and to enjoy the beauty of the valley.

Canoe/kayak slalom is a time trial competition, where competitors negotiate ‘gates’, which are coloured poles suspended above the water. Bideford   and Taunton Canoe Clubs jointly organised the event.  The aim was to awaken more local interest in Slalom, a sport in which Great Britain won gold and silver medals at the 2016 Olympics.

This competition had twenty two gates and was aimed at people relatively new to slalom. The stretch of water, locally known as the ‘Camel’s Hump’, is fast and channelled with rocks and eddies, making it a challenging experience for relative beginners. Course designer Doug Smith had set the course to make use of its natural features, with five of the gates taken upstream, using eddies  to help people turn into them.

On Saturday the course was open for practice and by lunchtime there had been nine swimmers in the chilly river. No injuries though, as the rescue crews were quick and efficient. In the afternoon there was a fun team event, where three paddlers tackle the course together. There were time handicaps for the strongest teams, so competition was fierce, though friendly! ‘Rag Tag and Bobtail’ won the event by just one second from KDS, with Doug/Martin/Kyle not far behind. A total of thirteen teams competed.

On Sunday there was an individual competition in several classes. Nearly eighty entries to the competition came from as far away as Salisbury and Monmouth, with ages ranging from 10 years to 78 years.

Event Organisers from Taunton CC, Leonie and Clive Merrifield, got the two days running smoothly, using two way radios and computer programmes to collate results. Leonie said,

‘This was our third and biggest slalom competition on this excellent site and we are indebted to the enthusiasm and efforts of all our club members and friends in making it happen. The pay back has been seeing the fantastic excitement among young people in achieving more than they thought possible’.

Prizes were presented by the landowner Mrs Frances Takel  together with Peter Romane from the Dulverton Weir and Leat Conservation Trust

Among the winners, Harvey Merryfield from Taunton CC, aged 15 years, beat all the adult competitors in the Open K1 (kayak single)competition and his brother Thomas, aged 13 years, came seventh in a strong field of fifteen.  Course designer Doug Smith from Bideford was a close second to Harvey with Ben Shattock of Taunton CC in third.

The brothers went on to beat their dad and his mate in the C2 doubles, where they kneel in the boat and use single paddles. The brothers must have a bright future and are an example to us all!


In the Ladies Open K1 event, Lena Kraus of Fowey came first, followed by Molly Knight of Wyedean CC with Katie Shattock of Taunton in third.

In K1 mens Division 3, another young talent  emerged in Felix Newey from  Wyedean CC, aged 13, winning the competition in a field of thirteen.


Second place was Jesse Davies from Stroud with Nathan Mower from Bideford in third.

In Women’s K1 Div 3, Sophia Stokes of Stroud Valley CC came first with Sennah Nader-Humphries of Croesyceiliog CC in second. Anya Fear of Taunton CC came third. In K1 Men Division 4, Pete Thorn was just ahead of Robin Harris from Taunton. Both were promoted to Division 3. In third place was Caleb Clode from Stroud Valley CC. In the K1 Women Division 4 Laura Hau from Seren Dwr came first and was promoted to Division 3. Brogan Swart from Croesyciliog came second and Jenni Denner from Poole Harbour CC came third.

In the Open C1 event, where people kneel and paddle with a single paddle, young Harvey beat his younger brother Tom, with club mate Kyle Spooner from Taunton in third. Some of the prizes were donated by Reed Chillcheater of Braunton.

For details of how to get afloat in this exciting sport, contact or

The full list of results is available at