Presenting the Go Canoeing Certificates to the Three Lakers

This morning the Three Lakes kayaking team had their weekly class with Matt from the Leam Boat Centre at Rock Mill Weir. They had a great time practising their paddling skills and working together before heading back to the Leam Boat Centre for Libby to present them all with their certificates and medals from Go Canoeing.

certificate

They are the youngest group to complete the Three Lakes Challenge, and Boo is proud to be the youngest girl to do so. Cake seemed the perfect way to celebrate receiving their certificates and medals thanks to Jenna of the Leam Boat Centre.checking-certificates

Boo loved receiving her medal (even if it did get a little stuck on her pompoms).

medal

Just over two weeks on from completing the Three Lakes Challenge we took this photo of the Three Lakers whilst asking if they would do it again. They didn’t seem too keen on doing the same challenge just yet….

three-lakers

The complete kayaking team seemed happier with the idea of trying something new. It might be time to start planning that paddling trip to visit the puffins of Skomer after all.

img_1547

Boo appears to have been influenced by meeting the British Olympic kayak sprinters at the weekend as she felt the need to check the medal wasn’t chocolate or biscuit!

testing-medal

Thanks to all your support of Boo’s fundraising efforts she has reached 70% of her target. She, and the 2nd Warwick Scouts, appreciate any donations you can offer.

Advertisements

Warwick Sprint And An Unmissable Opportunity To Meet Olympic Kayakers

On Saturday we were introduced to the drama of kayak sprinting when Boo was on the 2nd Warwick Sea Scouts stall at the Warwick Sprint event organised by the Royal Leamington Spa Canoe Club. The racing kayaks seemed to be longer than the sea kayak Boo used on the Three Lakes and light enough to be easy for even the youngest racers to carry. We were in an excellent position to observe the speed of the racers as the 2nd Warwick stall was opposite the podium with a view of the start and finish of the sprint races. We were asked to oversee the Kayak Ergo machine and record the fastest times for adults and children. Boo was delighted to set the fastest time for the Under-12’s and to be the fastest female, until the Olympic sprint kayakers had a go.

Whenever the scout stall was quiet Boo could be found cheering on the racers on the river bank until she was offered the chance to paddle in a racing K4 kayak with Ed McKeever. Ed was not wearing his 200m sprint gold medal from London 2012 as Boo got into the front of the four-seater kayak.

As this was Boo’s first time in a racing kayak she was not particularly adept at steering with her feet, so Ed’s paddle to the Scout Hut and back to the racing may have wiggled across the river a little more than he had expected. Boo really enjoyed her brief introduction to the K4 kayak and is now keen to find out more about kayak sprinting.

Once all the heats were over there was time for photo opportunities  with the five Olympians for the 2nd Warwick representatives of all ages.

Boo had a great time telling Rachel Cawthorn and Lani Belcher about completing the Three Lakes Challenge.

talking-to-lani-and-rachel

As a 200m and 500m sprinter Lani was rather surprised by the distances involved, especially on Loch Awe.

lani-belcher-surprised-by-distance-paddled

Lani and Rachel joined the paddling scouts at the 2nd Warwick Sea Scouts stall to ask more questions and look at some of the photos of the Three Lakes Challenge.

Whilst the Olympic kayak sprinters set excellent times on the Kayak Ergo machine Boo asked them to sign her necker. She had a lovely time meeting them and was really impressed with how easy they were to talk to. There may now be a few cyclists making room for photos of kayakers amongst her favourite athletes.

She is understandably proud of her autographed necker, and we are happy to acquire a new necker for her to wear as part of her uniform.

signed-necker

It was a lovely day and hard to believe that just two weeks earlier Boo and Mark and their friends were facing high winds and rain as they paddled to the island that was such a highlight of their challenge.

Boo is still hoping to reach her fundraising target for the much needed new scout hut. Thank you for your support.

Amazing Achievement

Boo is understandably proud of becoming the youngest girl to kayak the Three Lakes but she is also proud of the rest of the young team.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eight children aged between 10 and 14 years began the challenge at Bala last week. One of Boo’s best friends had not been in a kayak before July. She worked so hard this summer with Libby at the Leam Boat Centre that she went from being a non-paddler to an integral part of the kayaking team. Her focus and dedication inspired the rest of the team too. Unfortunately she had to leave the group once they had completed Bala and was sorely missed on the following lakes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

happy-to-finish

Two members of the team have hyper-mobility, which means that they had to battle with their own bodies as well as with the waves and weather. They did so without complaint and never once asked for any special treatment from the group or their coaches.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Each member of the team faced their own challenges as they kayaked the British Canoeing Three Lakes Challenge. Whether they completed one, two, or all three lakes they achieved something amazing that make their parents and coaching team so proud.

Thank you for your support of Boo’s ongoing fundraising efforts. With your help she has raised just over 60% of her target to help her scouts build their much needed new hut.

Mapping The Three Lakes

Boo popped her bike computer (Garmin) in a dry case to see if it would track our actual route on the lakes. Much to her delight it worked and we have been able to map our kayaking.

It is funny to see how different our kayaking stats are from our cycling stats. Normally our average speed is 12-15mph depending on whether we’re on a short or long ride. By contrast our kayaking average speed was 3.3-4mph depending upon what the weather was throwing at us and how the paddling team was feeling.

You can see from the map below how we paddled from one end of Bala Lake to the other (where we stopped for lunch and waved at the steam train) and then returned to our start point. The wind was pushing us towards the northern shore most of the time.

strava-bala

Our kayaking map of Windermere is a lot more wriggly than Bala as we had islands, ferries, other paddlers and so on to navigate around.

strava-windermere2

You can see in these close ups how our kayaking wriggled up Windermere as we visited many of the islands dotted around the lake. This gave us a chance to hunt for a geocache, climb trees, and even play in an adventure playground.

strava-windermere-close-up4strava-windermere-close-up3strava-windermere-close-up

For some reason our maps of the two days on Loch Awe show the loch as a hill rather than a blue lake. Ignoring that quirk you can see how we tended to hug the south easterly shore to protect ourselves from the wind and the waves it created. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed the gap in the map between the two days, where Mark forgot to turn the garmin on when he first returned to the water, he says he was distracted by the last minute photo shoot of the team with the Go Canoeing flag on the castle ramparts. He thinks he missed about 15 minutes paddling.

Day One

loch-awe-strava

Day Two

loch-awe2-strava

In the close up maps taken from satellite images you can see some of the little islands we visited and the terrain that made up our spectacular views.

loch-awe-strava-close-uploch-awe-strava-close-up2loch-awe-strava-close-up3

There was clear evidence of forestry work, rolling hillsides, ravines, dams, cliffs, ruined castles and churches, cairns on hillsides, wrecked boats, rotted jetties, fishermen, a salmon farm, and even hotels and other interesting waterside properties.

loch-awe2-strava-close-uploch-awe2-strava-close-up2loch-awe2-strava-close-up3

We really enjoyed swapping our pedals for paddles for this challenge and can now see ourselves travelling with bikes and boats in the future.

We Did It! Boo Is Now The Youngest Girl To Kayak The Three Lakes

The kayakers woke to sunshine on their second day on Loch Awe. They were camping on an island complete with ruined castle, which they were delighted to explore after breakfast.

sam_3062

This team of five boys, aged between 10 and 14, one Boo aged 11, and Mark were given fabulous support, encouragement and guidance throughout the British Canoeing Three Lakes Challenge by the wonderful Libby and Jenna from the Leam Boat Centre. They worked well together as a team and appear to have thoroughly enjoyed their adventure.

sam_3063

As Mark and Boo paddled under the railway bridge at the north end of Loch Awe they were relieved to complete the Three Lakes Challenge, and almost ready to start discussing their next kayaking adventure. Boo is now the youngest girl to kayak the Three Lakes, and makes us so proud! Please do continue to support her fundraising efforts for her much needed new scout hut.

p1010743

The team of children posed for one last time with the Go Canoeing flag, happy and proud to have completed their challenge. They are the youngest children to kayak the Three Lakes Challenge in solo crafts.

youngest-go-canoeing-team

Looking at how tired the children at least appeared to be, it was a good job that the supporting families had prepared a veritable feast of chicken and dumplings to refresh them at our home from home – the Torran Bay Hostel.

tired-team

We now have the rather long drive back home from Torran Bay on the banks of Loch Awe. It is interesting that as we say goodbye to our third lake the surface of the water is mirror calm with no sign of the waves we were dealing with for our 25 mile paddle.

Starting Loch Awe on Saturday Afternoon

The weather was windy and wet, actually the winds were at about 40mph and the rain was torrential at times, yesterday morning as the kayaking team readied themselves to paddle the longest lake in the UK – Loch Awe. Boo and her fellow sea scout posed for a couple of quick photos alongside the loch before safely packing the Sea Scout New Hut Bear in a special, and likely much needed, dry bag for the journey.

There was little sign of the sun as the rain continued and the group packed their boats very carefully before posing for one final group photo.

We have really appreciated all the support offered by Jenna and Libby from the Leam Boat Centre. They seem to know just what to say to each of the children to encourage them and keep them going. The trust that the young group have in their coaches is wonderful and will make all the difference on Loch Awe, the toughest of the three lakes.

Mark waved a cheery farewell as he paddled to join the rest of the group on the lagoon, and he also has been on the receiving end of encouragement from Jenna and Libby.

It was a little difficult to stand in the rain watching as the group of kayakers rapidly became dots in the distance as they paddled out of the shelter of the lagoon onto the body of the loch. All we can do now is wait for them to complete the 25 mile paddle, and become the youngest group to kayak the Three Lakes Challenge. It is easy to forget that the five boys and one girl are aged between 10 and 14, are in individual kayaks, and are carrying all their own kit through whatever the weather throws at them.

Please continue to support Boo’s fundraising for her Sea Scouts New Hut Appeal. Thank you.

Arrival at Loch Awe

We made it to our hostel last night before the rain really set in after the long drive from Windermere. It is a beautiful location and we have made full use of the hostel lounge (excellent place to spread out kit and check all our dry bags) and kitchen. We can see the little bay at the southern end of Loch Awe, where we will be launching our kayaks later today, from our bedroom window.map

It was fun watching the boats moving around their buoys and the clouds rushing across the sky until we remembered that we are going to be paddling the length of Loch Awe in whatever weather conditions are thrown at us. The wind does make the Loch rather choppy to paddle but we’ve all been talking to Libby and Jenna from the Leam Boat Centre about the best ways to deal with such conditions.

room-view

The winds really picked up through the night but a glance at the weather forecast suggests that they are going to drop to a more manageable level later this morning.

forecast

Jenna and Libby have suggested that we make a later start today and only paddle the first seven miles, which will take us to the island of Innis Errich for our overnight camp.

That will leave us eighteen miles to paddle tomorrow which we all recognise will be hard work. We’re hoping our Support Vehicle will find somewhere close to the finish where we can eat a fish and chips supper before returning to the hostel.

When we finish at Kilchurn Castle tomorrow evening we will be the youngest group to complete the British Canoeing Three Lakes Challenge and Boo will be the youngest girl to do so. We know Loch Awe is the longest and toughest lake of the challenge but we’re starting to feel ready.

Please do support our efforts to raise funds for  Boo’s Scouts who are trying to build a much needed new scout hut. Thank you.

Two Lakes Down, One To Go

After we completed Bala Lake on Wednesday we drove north to Windermere (we actually stayed in a tipi at the Hawkshead Youth Hostel which we all enjoyed!) ready to tackle our second lake on Thursday morning. Unfortunately we spotted that one of the trailer tyres had sprung a flat. Between Mark, Jenna, and the New Hut Bear this was soon fixed and we could head down the windy roads (not easy when towing kayaks) to meet the rest of the team at Newby Bridge.

Two of the children had to stop at one lake this year so it was a slightly smaller team that prepared to kayak Lake Windermere.

go-canoeing-windermere-start

There were a lot of high spirits, especially amongst the young team. For some reason they found Boo’s plaits amusing!

go-canoeing-pigtails

Once on the water they rafted up for a quick photocall and then headed off for the 11 miles of Lake Windermere.

ready-to-paddle

There was a gentle breeze most of the day and plenty of sunshine. The lake was a lot busier than Bala with ferries, kayaks, and motor boats adding to the challenge.

We had identified a couple of geocaches hidden on islands on Lake Windermere so the group went geocache hunting. they also climbed trees, ate lunch, observed cormorants and other wildlife, and had snack breaks on a number of the Lake Windermere islands. They even took a break at Castle Wray to play on the adventure playground before finally paddling to the finish at Ambleside.

 

There were some tired but happy faces as they beached their boats. Boo needed a little nap before we could head back to our tipi to change. We joined the rest of the team for a delicious spaghetti bolognaise and discussions about options for Loch Awe. There is a storm blowing in tonight which will bring some very strong winds so we’re keeping a close eye on the forecast before we begin our last, and longest, lake.

Thank you for your support as we kayak to raise funds for the 2nd Warwick Sea Scouts New Hut Appeal.

Our Three Lakes Challenge Begins!

start-with-ensign

After all the planning, training, and preparations we are finally ready to begin our British Canoeing Three Lakes Challenge and kayak the longest lakes in England, Scotland and Wales. Boo is joined in her paddling and fundraising by a fellow Sea Scout and the New Hut Appeal bear mascot.

start-with-go-canoeing-flagThis will be the youngest group to complete the Three Lakes Challenge with eight children aged between 10 and 14 years starting on Bala Lake, Wales this morning ably supported by Libby and Jenna from the Leam Boat Centre and Mark too. Two of the children are not planning to paddle Loch Awe but the rest of the team intend completing the challenge together.

The launch point at Bala Lake was shallow enough for everyone to walk their boats into the water before getting in whilst Jenna double checked the fitting of their spraydecks.

which-direction

Boo was a bit too intently focused on drinking from her drinks bladder to notice that Jenna had given her a gentle shove onto the lake whilst she was still facing the shore.

which-direction2

And so it was that Boo began her paddle of Bala Lake backwards!

and-they-are-off

It wasn’t long before the onshore wind had spread the group out and Boo had started facing the right way.

bala-lake

They have fabulous scenery to interest them as they head to their lunch stop at the far side of the lake. The weather is breezy and a little chilly out of the sun. Hopefully the showers will hold off until they finish this first lake and we head north to Windermere.

Thank you for your support for Boo and Mark as they complete the Three Lakes Challenge.