My first trip

Embarking upon your first canoe club trip? Your questions answered here.
 
What happens on a typical canoe club trip?
In a nutshell, you'll have a wicked weekend, and at the bargain price of £30. Can you have 48 hours of fun in London for that price? Of course not. So book a place.
 
Friday:
Leaving on Friday evening, we drive a minibus or two loaded with people, gear and canoes to some far-flung corner of the kingdom. This does mean a long drive - London is not the best part of the country for white water!
Saturday:
We get up fairly early on Saturday morning, hopefully woken up by the aroma of cooking bacon ;) After breakfast, we get into the bus and drive to the river of choice to get ready to paddle.
Be warned - there may be more standing around than you expect - we've got to do things like drive a car or bus to where we are getting out. But then, faffing over, the fun (hopefully!) begins. You will have an experienced paddler allocated to help you down the river. You'll probably take a swim or two, but you'll get to the bottom in one piece!
Depending on which river we are doing, we might have time to do another. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Once we are done for the day, we will drive back to the accommodation, normally via a pub. Other people will return to get the evening meal ready, an infamous Hut chilli. This is ready by about 8pm, whereupon we all eat, drink and have a generally good time until the wee small hours.
Sunday:
The gnarly paddlers always plan to do an Early Morning Mission, a river much harder than most people in the club would care to attempt. They either come back to the hut or we meet them at another river. Then it's pretty much the same as Saturday.
Once we are done on the river, we get changed and find some source of food to keep us going for the invariably long drive back to London. We aim to return between 10 and 11 on Sunday night - hopefully knackered out but with fun memories of the last couple of days. (Just occasionally, we miscalculate and arrive back later - but sometimes we manage to make it back in time for last orders!)
 
Where will we go?

  • North Wales: 'The Hut'. People speak with great fondness of this place. In this tiny bunkhouse in a remote valley of Snowdonia, we enjoy good food, good drink, and good company around a roaring fire ... Oh and during the daylight hours we do a bit of kayaking in various rivers around North Wales.
  • Lake District: Spark Bridge Village Hall. We've stayed here a few times now, and it has the added bonus of being at the take-out for the River Crake. It's bigger and colder than the hut, but has the bonus features of a pool table (of sorts) and table tennis. Not only does this afford access to the Lake District, it's also a good staging point for North Yorkshire.
  • Devon / River Dart: A good one in terms of length of drive - we can be there by midnight.

 
How much does it cost?
As stated above, the typical price of a club trip is just £30.
What's included in the cost?

  • Transport
  • Food (breakfast/dinner and chocolate for on the river)
  • Drink (beer, gin, vodka, whatever is in the bucket - but don't worry if you don't drink - we always bring soft drinks too!)
  • Accommodation
  • Equipment listed below

What's not included in the cost?

  • Food for the journey

 
Am I good enough to go on a canoe club trip?
Yes. We rarely go on a trip without having some beginners with us. The experts in the group will explain the river basics, and keep an close eye on everyone. You may be told that a particular river section is too difficult for you, but on the whole there are plenty of opportunities for you to develop your kayaking skills. After all, everybody was a beginner once!
Whilst we don't absolutely insist upon it, it is a good idea to have been to a Pool Session before coming on a trip. Although there is a huge difference between a nice warm pool and a Welsh river, it gives you the chance to find out if you like being in a boat! It also gives us the chance to show you what to do if/when you swim...
But it's something that you really don't need to worry about!
 
Is it cold?
Yes... But kayaking is a physical sport, so its not as bad as you might expect. Do read this next section though!
 
What do I need to bring?
Weekend Trips
Off the river:
The places we stay are comfortable but quite basic - no maids changing the sheets, we're afraid. You will need to bring:-

  • Lot of warm clothes: bring layers so that you can achieve that perfect temperature
  • Hat, gloves, warm coat: when you are outside and waiting around, it can get a bit nippy.
  • Sleeping bag: absolutely essential! A few people have spent a very miserable night wrapped in all their clothes, shivering till dawn.
  • Toiletries: most people stick to just toothbrush and toothpaste, as the shower facilities tend to be interesting

General

  • Cash: we don't tend to paddle near places with ATMs, so bring whatever money you think you'll need
  • Food: for the journey. Alternatively, bring more cash for when we stop at a service station
  • Sun cream: for summer trips
  • Plasters: to patch up any blisters. Gaffer/LX tape also work well when on the river.

On the river:
You will need to bring - note that you must be prepared for these to get wet!

  • Thermal tops: these should be synthetic - absolutely not cotton or wool (as these get very heavy and cold when wet). You can buy fleeces from Primark for about £4 and these are ideal.
  • Footwear: wetsuit shoes/boots are ideal, but trainers or sandals are fine too. If you are tall, you may find it hard getting big shoes into the kayak, so try to find some with thin soles. These are mostly to protect your feet from sharp rocks if you take a swim
  • Warm Socks: to keep your feet warm when you aren't swimming ;)
  • Spare Glasses / Glasses Strap / Contact Lenses: if you can't see without them
  • Swimming Trunks/Costume/Pants: to wear under the wetsuit
  • Towel: obvious, but easy to overlook!
  • Big plastic bag: to put your wet gear into once you get off the river

The club will try to provide you with the essential Kayaking Kit:-

You can indicate what equipment you need to borrow when you sign up for the trip.
 

If you don't have some of the kit above, mail us, and we can see if anybody can lend you it for the weekend.
 
Wednesday Trips
On a Wednesday afternoon trip (or other 1 day trips) you will obviously need less stuff. You need one set of clothes to get wet (described above). You wont be needing a sleeping bag! You still need a towel, and cash.
 
Where do we meet?
For weekend trips, we normally meet at the Beit Quad Stores at 5:30pm to sort out kit and load the buses. If you could be there as early as possible, there are normally people there from 5pm onwards. If you are going to be late, let us know by emailing or if it's short notice call someone.
If you have your own transport then you'll probably need directions to the Hut.
 
What if I don't like it?
Don't worry, kayaking just isn't the right sport for some people - it takes a certain sort of person to enjoy freezing cold water and big rocks looming at you. There is no pressure to do anything that you don't want to - whether this is paddling, drinking, or whatever. The club is very welcoming. If you come on one trip and don't come again, all you've lost is a little bit of money - but you got out of London to one of the more beautiful parts of the country for a weekend!
 
What if I have more questions?
If you have more questions about the club, mail us, and we'll do our best to answer them.