Dec 8th Troutbeck report – Helen

The morning after the night before – a great day to go paddling…

Lucky no-one was up til 3am the night before! Oh, they were.

Lucky there’s no frost on the ground! Oh, there is.

Lucky its not 2 Degree Centigrade! Right. Its 1 degree.

Crawled out of bed at 8am and crawled to the sheds to fetch Aussie Dave, Dale and Lloyd. Soon became apparant that they had more sense than to go on a trip to the lakes in the frozen rain/sleet/snow and must be happily tucked up in their duvets. Quick self-sanity-check? Yes, still insane. Off the rest of us all go to the Service station, through the driving gales, for a quick coffee – Will, Cath, Helen, Sara, Si and Wigan Bob.

Will: “So, what do we want to do?”

Me: “Something easy!” (Feign hangover – I haven’t actually got one, no one really drinks creme-de-menthe – you’ll understand if you’ve ever tried it)

Will: “OK”

Yay! How easy was that? My plan has worked, everyone else is happy at the suggestion of a nice grade III, so we load most of the boats onto Bob’s car, and head up to the get in of the Greta. Great!…

Too snowy for any water

…Except, despite the driving stair-rods all the way up, the wind and rain and sleet, the marker at the get-in is still half-a-foot above the water 😦 Not enough water really, how bizarre! Well, maybe its locked up in all that, er, snow on the hills up there … Brrrrrr.

Next idea, I quite fancy Gt Langdale. Again, its mostly II/III, one semi-portageable IV, lets head that way… But no, its not going to go, Si explains – something about a computer model, high low, south north, cloud height, geography. Dunno what he means, but he’s right – we later hear from another group that the Brathay (and by inference, Gt Landale) was quite a scrape.

So we try choice number 3: Troutbeck.

Will looks at the level at the get out (medium.) Then with a wide grin, and a reassuring voice,”Don’t worry, Helen, you’ll be fine.

This is not exactly a good sign.

Why will I be fine? Why wouldn’t I be fine? What’s all this “fine” about? I instantly know the translation of this, which is “Helen, you’ll be pushing your comfort zone on this one.”

Nevertheless, I do get on – my choice – and we start off down the Troutbeck.

Get on

Troutbeck starts off very lovely, fairly narrow but not in a gorge, plenty of III rapids. At each one, eddy at the top, look at the rapid, already choosing which eddy at the bottom. I can feel the others looking after me – Cath and Will are leading, Si and Sara never let me be last. So far, so good.

troutbeck - top bit

The valley is full of trees, so, inevitably, some of them are in the river. Mostly, this is fine, but at one point, after Si tried sneaking under one, and the rest of us thought that looked too horrid, we walked that and the next tree.


After a while, in a pool river left, Will announces this is the beginning of the gorge – he and Cath go ahead and scout.  When we follow, its all rather intense – narrow, gorge walls closed in, very twisty, not often possible to see what’s ahead, Pool, Twist, Drop, Pool, Drop, Pool, Twist, Drop, Twist, Drop, Twist, Twist, Twist, Seems to last forever, Phew!!!


Exhilarated, that was fantastic!

Will says “Well done!!” I’m smiling, I relax… nothing else is going to be harder than that bit, yay!

Well, true, but don’t relax 😉 We’re back out in more open-character river, but on the very next long bouldery rapid, it seems to stretch again, beyond the corner, I’m concentrating on the rocks right in front of the boat because I’m managing to hit about every rock. My glances at what’s next are short, bad sign, and I’m not seeing any end to the rapid, and I’m struggling. Thankfully I get into an eddy on the left where Sara is already. She asks if she wants me to go first or should she? I reply that I don’t much feel like going first or second, cos I’m so unsure of the route.  So she goes first, and of course, the route is obvious and fine, small panics allayed.

More III rapids, a funny weir thing and then the river calms a lot, and so I’m confident to be right at the front, eddy hopping is a breeze here.

The river reaches a calm pool at the top of a left bend. The river drops away ahead of us, so I carefully let Will go ahead.

Me: “What’s next Will?”

Will: “Oh a couple of weir/chutes, you’ll be fine”

And off he goes.

I’m just gathering my wits to follow, and as I start to paddle my swim-nymph ripples in the water next to me, flexing her fins, ready for action.

At that moment, a reassuring voice, Si’s, says “Hello there, mind if I rudely cut in?” I’m so relieved, he’s seen that I don’t really want to be second man down this rapid, so I readily agree. The swim-nymph pauses, and makes a movement to get back into the eddy with me, but its too late, she’s already in the current, so she shrugs, as if to say “all the same to me” and fins off following Si’s boat instead, sucker tentacles hovering.

Si’s yellow disco goes confidently left, ready to cut across right, following the chute, but is suddenly flipped on a huge wave and pretty much gets air while almost upside down. He rolls up on an long high-brace…then, backwards drop, darn, over again. There’s no room to roll against the rocks, so its a very bumpy swim for Si, bish bash bish bash, now he’s got his Rachel-and-Si matching helmet mark.

At that point, some other boaters turn up, but we can’t really chat. 

Will signals “Stay” and then, once Si is clambering up the side, Will goes to chase the boat. The other group of paddlers run the rapid, one retrieves the paddle from where Will has wedged it on a rock, and throws it somewhere more accessible.

Cath and I come down next, I take a better line than Si… or so I think, until I’m past where he flipped, and relax. Of course, I’m barely 1/3 down, should still be thinking thinking, and in my relaxed state, whoosh I’m over too. Roll…fail…roll…come up very unprettily on the back deck. Now, for the “World check”: Is the world going forwards or backwards?….. That would be… backwards 😦 Zounds! Turn around, navigate past tree, I’m looking for an eddy, there’s no eddy, what’s next? Oh no! Another huge chute. I whimper, and luckily Cath is right there saying “Just go for it!” Sometimes hearing it from someone else helps to make the right decision that little bit faster… whoooosh, and I’m through, exhilarated. That was great! I get out to stand with a throw-line in case Bob and Sara make it look how I did. Of course, they both breeze it and make it look easy.

While the three of us regroup, Cath goes to check on the boat rescue activities and Si heads to the bridge to find us.

A few more little rapids, and the end of a great paddle.

A great trip! Thanks! Cheers for driving and looking after me. Wow, that was a twisty river,

Report by: Helen. Photos: by Si 

See also Si’s report


One Response

  1. great report Helen. Interresting to hear it from your point of view. It sounds just like my head when i’m paddling something hard and pushing my self outside the comfort zone. You have to do it occasionally, well done.

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