Each weekend starts with the same question, a question of what to do that is a little different and exciting. This often results in a camping trip, a long dog walk, or often, a long afternoon in the pub.
The weekend before I left, however, we decided to try something a little different. As I only had the one day, we opted not to take the canoes out on the lake for the weekend, but rather stay much closer to home and canoe a section of the River Esk, Between the towns of Langholm and Longtown, about 20 miles.
Armed with 6 beers, a GoPro and zero experience, we set out in high spirits on a beautiful Scottish day.
It started out easy enough for the first half a mile or so, but very quickly we were thrown into some faster water, that although, I’m sure, was pretty tame by most standards, was certainly enough to make us panic and regret not bringing lifejackets.
The balance was perfect, with enough fast sections to make staying in the canoe a challenge, and enough lengthy slower sections to facilitate us drying off and drinking a couple of beers.
The scenery was breathtaking, with barely a sign of civilisation around.
But, the going soon got much harder again, with the river throwing rapid after rapid at us. As you can tell by the video commentary, (sorry for the language) it was a struggle just staying afloat.
After the more challenging sections, we were feeling pretty confident as we had managed to stay in. When we heard the approaching rumble of white water, therefore, we felt pretty confident that we could handle whatever the river was about to throw at us.
As we approached, however, we quickly realised that we had to bail and beeline to the side.It was a decision that, in all likelihood, saved our lives, as the Wear we had avoided was not only about 8 ft in drop, but the low summer flow had left a large, jagged rock exposed in the middle of the channel. One that would have flipped us into the rocks below in an instant.
From there, the river was pretty easy going, and we were able to relax and drink our last couple of beers as it drifted us slowly back to civilisation and our ride home. It had been a superb day and our only regret was that we had discovered it just before I had left as knowing about it would have meant that the question that starts most of our weekends would have been much easier to answer.