Newbies at Symonds Yat

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A few Saturdays ago some of us newbies drove terrified towards what we believed to be certain injury at Symonds Yat. After Andy’s unexpected advice on what to do to avoid smashing into rocks in the likely event of a capsize, we carried our kayaks to the river’s edge where I expected the gentle step-into-boat of Hurley, but instead faced a 50 foot (…?) slide into the water. Unfortunately I spent so much time bullying Carl and Oli down the slide that I missed the clever stairs-taking group and, alongside some chanting from campers, I was obliged to go too. 

A worrying attempt at paddling down the rapids followed a calm and gentle paddle towards them… But once safe at the bottom Andy and Penny gave us lessons in ferry gliding and breaking in and out of the eddy, which we tentatively mastered.

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After some lunch we upgraded to testing our skills in the faster flowing water at the top, ferry gliding from eddy to eddy all the way down. Carl (pictured below) couldn’t be bothered with this staggered route, so capsized and swam down – which was much quicker but not what Andy suggested we do. He also lost his wetshoes down the river and, refusing Andy’s offer to gaffer tape his feet, had to go barefoot.

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After Carl’s demonstration of the new route, I decided to capsize too. Usually (purely to test Tom’s patience) I have quite a long preparation routine before going under, but there wasn’t time for that. I did have time to think “OMG I’m under” twice before I pulled out. Andy was somehow suddenly (and heroically) already next to me when I came up and took me to the edge while I did my characteristic and unnecessary gasping for air. I actually wish I had capsized at the beginning of the day, because it really wasn’t that bad and–like everything I’m overly afraid of–it was actually a really great day which we’re all repeating next weekend in a canoe…

Natalie

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