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 Brittany Experiential - Kayaking and Canoeing

We have spent the last week in beautiful Brittany, near a small town called Quimperle, near to L'Orient.  We left last Friday at 16:30 after loading all kit, kayaks and canoes onto the trailers from Chichester.  We then made our way to Portsmouth where we boarded the ferry for the long journey to St Malo.  The journey on the ferry was rather uneventful, thankfully.  We then made our way across France for 4 hours to arrive at our campsite at 16:00 on Saturday afternoon.  Without any time wasted, we were on the river an hour later and brushing up on some of the basics.  Now I have been camping in England before, and lets just say that the fields in England are fairly level!  The campsite in France itself was fine, just that it was covered with old molehills that seemed to be at the exact place everyone's sleeping bag was placed and on a slight incline.  Wriggle too much in your sleeping bag and you are right at the bottom of the tent! 

The weather was warm enough during the day, but became mildly cooler during the evening.  As for rain, well let's just say it was like being in Knysna in June! Everyday we had sun, but we also had torrential downpours, often at 7 am as we were preparing for breakfast.  the days activities were only planned on the day, due to the weather, and amount of rain we had had.  Overall the river levels were really good, and we were fortunate to be able to ride some good white water. 

We spent the days in canoes or kayaks according to water level, rapid conditions and what skill we felt we preferred.  The open boating (canoeing) is very enjoyable, more sedate yet more endurance based than kayaking.  Kayaking is a big adrenalin rush, and a load of fun, but also very dangerous.  Every time you fall in, and at my level, you can bank on going in at least twice, you risk the chance of completing the rest of the rapids backwards, upside down, or of banging your head on the rocks below.  Thankfully, we had no major injuries.  As for the canoeing, you also fall in if you fail to concentrate, but you risk more wrath from your paddling partner than danger!  We spent a day paddling upstream with the tide from the coast to the town of , unsupervised up the river to Quimperle.

Other days were spent learning to roll a kayak at the beach, in 1-2 foot surf.  Not big, but when you are clipped into your kayak, the last thing you want is to capsize and not be able to roll.  Suffice to say, none of us can yet roll, so you end up catching 1 or 2 waves, then you get sunk, and have to drag your kayak all the way up the beach, empty it, climb back in and re attach your spray deck. Then you try push yourself back to the water.  Bit like a penguin in a wheelchair! the general feeling amongst the students is that we are so keen to learn to roll. 

I am so glad I love the water! Some people won't paddle with me, as they think I want to capsize!  I have now acquired 2 nicknames.  Sometimes they call me "old man rivers" but mostly it's just Granddad!  Cheeky kids.  Anyhow, I must say the whole trip was fantastic, a real learning curve and a great deal of fun.  Enjoy the pictures.

Photos in the gallery