We love our walking and many of our little jaunts have taken us round some beautiful UK coastal waters and lakes. On a couple of these walks our eyes have looked longingly at those cruising along, whether they be in small power boats churning their way through the water or canoes, motored by those with the muscle power capable of gliding over the surface without any effort at all.
We saw ourselves as the latter, our mental image may never meet what we’d end up like but we were up for the challenge, so after a few days of intense research off we went to Decathlon and bought ourselves an inflatable kayak, a Savylor Willemette.
Once home of course we had to inflate it in the conservatory, the fun we were having so far we doubted we would ever actually grow up. Only thing that would prevent us from remaining teenagers for ever would be our failing memory and ageing body parts. Suppose the image of two people struggling to get into a kayak, ultimately falling into it and then paddling aimlessly up and down a lake having forgotten where they were going and originally started from would be entertaining for us and those observing.
Buoyancy aides bought, foot pump, repair kit and water proof bags also purchased, all we could do now was countdown the days to our next trip away. This had originally been booked for two nights away in Buxton, as lakes, or any other water feature bigger than the local pond weren’t available we had to look elsewhere for our maiden voyage to take place.
Coniston Park Coppice was at the top of our list, mainly because our trip in April was still fresh in our minds and our visit there still held the image of a beautiful sunny day with two people paddling down the lake laughing and chatting as they went over the still, glass like surface of the water. We wanted that to be us, desperately, so Buxton was changed for Coniston. Sorry Buxton.
The day came of our departure and we woke to torrential rain beating against the bedroom window, we only hoped this wasn’t a taster for the next few days.
Following our now well planned routine and check list Pod was soon packed up and ready for the off. With the addition of the kayak and all its additional bits the check list had grown somewhat, so it took a little longer to decide what went where for the journey.
As we set off the heavy rain had changed to drizzle but we paid no mind to it as we were still quite giddy with our heads full of sunshine, floating boats and laughter.
We arrived at Park Coppice a few minutes after 12, the rain had stopped and the sun broke through the clouds to provide us with a small promise of a dry day ahead, as we stopped in front of the site office we were greeted with waving hands and smiling faces, they had remembered us from our visit in April, we say ‘us’, but we mean Pod of course.
We chose a spot not too far from the toilet block and set about making Pod our home for the next few days. Everything was all but done when MB noticed Pod wasn’t running off the mains, switches in the consumer unit were turned on and off, checked at the mains, double checked and checked again but still wouldn’t connect. Only thing it could be was the site bollard must have tripped. Either by those along side us using the same bollard or previous occupiers of the pitch.
The wardens were contacted and within a few minutes they arrived and confirmed the bollard had tripped and more than likely by the pitches previous occupants. One flick of a switch we were up and running again. We did have images of having to move everything to another pitch but thankfully all was well.
Next was the kayak which didn’t take long to inflate, with waterproof bags containing dry clothing and the requisite buoyancy jackets we headed down to the lake, we had the whole afternoon ahead of us and the clouds were breaking up to provide that idyllic image we were so looking for.
Now, bearing in mind neither of us has been canoeing since child hood getting into the kayak may prove to be a challenge, never mind actually paddling in unison in a straight line, so our ‘boarding’ point was chosen with care, well out of the sight of a group of canoeists and round the bend from a group of people sat enjoying the view. If we were going to fall in neither of us wanted to be reminded of it over the next few days.
To our surprise the water was warm, tepid even and it all went like a dream, MrB in first taking the back seat, then LB to the front, we reversed out and with our paddles, Canadian style, we were soon gliding along Coniston Water like a pair of old pros with grins from ear to ear.
Taking our time we discovered our strong and weak sides and slowly worked southwards in the direction of Torver jetty no one else was to be seen as the scenery went by and the only sounds to be heard were our paddles in and out of the water.
Once out of the kayak MrB called into Bluebird Café and returned with two huge 99s which we devoured whilst watching a group of children practicing their rowing technique in open canoes.
Back into the kayak we went, same routine as before and paddled our way past the bay where all the boats and yachts were moored and people swimming along the shore who gave us a wave as we passed by, we eventually reached the shoreline which would take us back to the caravan park.
On dry land we de-kitted and carried the kayak back up to the site and Pod. We were extremely pleased with our maiden voyage and it couldn’t have gone better, we only hoped the following day’s weather was as good for our planned full day of adventure on the lake.
Following day arrived and the weather forecast looked promising, not much sun. It was going to be dry. The kayak was ready to go so after a catch up with the news on the TV with a cup of hot tea in bed we were soon up and after breakfast we trudged down to the lakeside, we were soon floating down the lake, the plan being to find Peel Island and have a little picnic lunch.
We appeared to be the only ones out on the lake, floating southwards to the sound of birds echoing down the valley and the noise of the ripples caused by the kayak gliding through the water. It was so peaceful.
After about half an hour we began to see rainfall hit the lake around us, droplets, nothing to worry about, after all the weather forecast said no rain. Didn’t it..
We looked behind us and we could see a grey mist travelling down the lake in our direction, the rain was getting heavier but nothing to worry about, just a shower, so we headed inland and took refuge under the trees.
Waterproofs on and kayak on its side, we waited for the rain to pass which it did within 10 minutes or so. Looking up the lake the clouds were slowly moving in our direction but we decided to keep moving and hope the rain would go across the lake and not down it.
How wrong we were.. Once back on the lake we paddled with a little more gusto, occasionally looking over our shoulders to see the dark clouds looming and the surface of the lake changing colour from the band of rain hitting the surface as it moved quickly towards us.
We stopped twice more, the last time we again took refuge under trees on the shoreline as a torrential down poor covered us with the odd rumble of thunder thrown in. Weather forecast ! how wrong it was but we couldn’t help but laugh, it didn’t dampen our spirit whilst we tucked into our rain sodden sandwiches.
After 45 minutes the rain began to fade away, we were discussing what to do next when we heard an almighty splash coming from down the shoreline. We looked to see two young women clad in bikinis having a fine old time along the bank of the lake.
The contrast between us and them couldn’t have been more different. Us stood head to toe in waterproofs starting to feel the cold. Them having a fine old time swimming around in a circle in the tepid water of the lake.
Decision was made to head back towards the caravan site but not before we decided to paddle past the caravan site, some strange little stone statues and called into the Bluebird Café for another ice cream.
The rain stopped for our return journey which caused us to regret our hasty return, this regret didn’t last long though because our journey from the café to the caravan sites shoreline was again dominated by a torrential downpour. We clambered out of the kayak and all our attempts to reman dry during the day had been wasted.
Even though we were soaked we still didn’t want to leave the lake, as we picked the kayak up to walk back to Pod we looked back at the lake feeling slightly forlorn.
On our return the rain stopped, we hoped this would work in our favour and remain dry overnight, thus enabling us to pack the awning away dry. Were we being too optimistic, only time would tell.
Woke to find birds singing and the sun peeking through low level clouds. It looked promising so without any delay we began packing Pod up. Much to our surprise the awning was dry, after all the rain from the past 24hrs we couldn’t believe our luck. The kayak came first, still wet obviously but we soon wiped it down and packed it away in its bag. The awning was next and it too went away quickly.
Within an a short space of time we had packed Pod up and drove away from the pitch leaving nothing but tyre marks. Strange really, looking back our memories come with us and the pitch would soon be inhabited by someone else who would undoubtedly make memories of their own.
This visit to Park Coppice had been different for us, most of our adventures have involved mountain and countryside walks, the kayak has given us a new string to our bow, widening the scope of our travels and introducing us to new experiences.
Yes, the weather hadn’t been perfect but we’d been surrounded by the most beautiful scenery on an excellent site, this in I self made it perfect for us.
We had a ball and can’t wait for our next trip away, 3 weeks and then bonny Scotland.