On Sunday the 28th of October nine Nomads led by Ian Walker traveled to Sandy in Bedfordshire to paddle the Ivel. The trip had been postponed by two weeks due to torrential rain, but this weekend we were blessed by beautiful autumn sunshine, no rain and a light wind. Two of our number were on their first trip with the club and another paddling the Ivel for the first time.
After a quick risk assessment by Ian we all put on and started off through pretty countryside with the occasional mound of dying reeds to push through. It wasn’t long before we came to the first slidey weir, down which Ian took the main group, while three of us turned right down the mill stream to rejoin the main river later via an exciting chute down to a play stopper. No sooner were we down the chute than we spotted Ian and the group coming round the corner for a bit of stopper surfing on the part of Ian and ferry gliding practice by the braver members of the group.
More attractive countryside followed until we eventually passed the Bailey bridge just above the second weir where Ian stopped to brief everyone. His sage advice was not to look at the weir before shooting it and approach it fast with a good ‘boof’ stroke for a clean landing. Having inspired us all with confidence, Ian got out to inspect the weir for obstructions before the whole group led by Matt shot it one by one as Ian photographed.
Everyone without exception followed Ian’s instructions and shot the weir perfectly with hardly a wobble – a first for a Nomad trip. Well done Tony, Dan and Sarah – now you know why Ian advised not looking first!
Suitably excited by the drop and inspired by our own competence we waited for Ian to shoot the weir himself and carried on down through some twisty bits and over the third weir for our lunch stop at the picnic table in a golden but not very warming sunshine. We didn’t hang around too long over lunch, as some were starting to get cold, and put in again for Ian to have a quick play in the third weir with some throwline support which in the event proved unnecessary.
More beautiful countryside and particularly stunning autumnal shades of the trees welcomed us as we continued via the country house narrows, where a fallen tree nearly blocked the fast channel, across more open fields to the water take off announcing the last couple of weirs. Ian stopped for a briefing, but by now even the newcomers were more comfortable with weirs and hearing this one was (only) 3 feet high allayed concerns. Again everyone got down with no problems and congregated in the weir basin waiting for Ian to lead them under the bridge and over the very final weir into the mill pool below.
This was a great place for practicing ferry gliding and was taken advantage of by everyone at various distances from the weir. Simon, having practiced his break-ins and -outs earlier, soon had confidence to break in right below the weir with a strong bow rudder turning into power/support stroke in good style. When we’d all had enough of practicing, apart maybe from Ian who was a bit disappointed the wave and slot of the weir weren’t working very well that day, we pushed on down the short final stretch to the Ouse and our get out, thanks to the generous farmer.
Much inspired by the trip and everyone’s great paddling, we said our goodbyes and headed home.
Many thanks to Ian for leading the trip and the photographs.
Matt, trips officer