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  • Joe Lo

Club Trip to the River Dart, November 2023

Photo credit: Gareth Jones

We had a fabulous weekend of paddling on the River Dart last weekend. The weather was glorious and we had enough rain to make the river swell to a fun and challenging level without getting to scary levels. We were mainly based around the Dartmoor Lodge, with a few people in other locations further apart, but coming back in for drinks and dinner. It was our biggest trip with over thirty paddlers for the three days of the weekend. On Friday we had some early arrivers doing some reconnoitering of the high flowing Dart. Saturday was the main day for the club, paddling in three groups: Team Tango was led by a professional coach, Gareth, who led, inspired and coached a group on the Lower Dart with the support of Lyn; Team Fanta were also on the Lower Dart, led by me and supported by Peter S, a day of fun and new exciting challenges for the team; Team Vimto worked as a mainly Peer group. Two of our paddlers started early with a cheeky Upper Dart run before joining the Vimto crowd for an adventure on the Dart Loop - for Ben this was his first run on this classic with some support with from the experienced paddlers of the club. We all drank and feasted as heroes that night in the Dartmoor Lodge. Sunday saw a few depart to explore the moor or other entertainment, while others spent another great day on the water. Gareth and Emma H led our new to white water paddlers on another day of fun, challenge and paddling growth on the Lower Dart - lots of smiles at the end of the day and Granny K may have an expensive kayak-shaped Christmas present to buy. On the the Loop, the club split into three groups to slip and slide down what I think of as the best section of Grade 3 river in England. Martin, not wanting to be out done by his son Ben, also had a clean run down the Loop and Lower Dart, so it would have been an exuberant journey home in their car.

Photo credits (from top left to bottom right): Jacqui Morgenstien, Sonia Harrison, Jacqui Morgenstien,

Fran Welty, Sonia Harrison, Sonia Harrison.

With so many people on the trip, so many firsts, outstanding achievements and enthusiastic contributions by club members new and old, I have not been able to mention everyone. For those that paddled, the smile you took home states what a good weekend it was. Thank you to those who worked on making it all come together and thank you for coming and joining us. We all played a part in making a fantastic weekend.

Takeaways and future plans:

General consensus was that the bringing in of a professional coach added value and made this large trip run smoother. The cost was spread across the two led groups to pay for the coach and make a contribution to club leaders expenses. I will be running a poll shortly to see if this is a model we will use in the upcoming trips. It does come at a cost and still needs the support of club leaders and peer paddlers. So more organising, but hopefully more fun.

Upcoming Trips:

13/14 Jan 2024 - We are looking to run a trip, probably Exmoor, details to follow

17/18 Feb 2024 - Usk trip. Get it in your diary

16/17 March 2024 - River Dart Paddlers Party

April - Possible Surf Kayak Trip

May - Development Courses - North Wales

Summer - Back to the artificial WW courses

Further details are being scoped out at the moment so get in touch if you want to help.

There are still the pool sessions and keep an eye out for little trips that may get thrown together by club members.

Keep Paddling


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