World Challenge Expeditions – Norway 2008

16 year 9s, 2 teachers, an assistant leader and myself, nominally tagged Expedition Leader!  We had about 9 days in Norway and then a couple of days either side for travelling from and to Newcastle-Stavanger by ferry.

We completed a four day trek in the higher reaches of the Setesdal valley with clear blue skies and patches of snow still clinging to the north facing slopes.  In the whole time we only saw 3 other people.

Our trek ended on the banks of the River Otra, here we met up with our canoes, resupplied with food and set off on a 4 day, 3 night canoe trip.  Above the dam at Evje the Otra is more reservoir than river, some of the team had fishing equipment and caught brown trout and rainbow trout to be cooked on the fire in the evenings.  Campsites were on beaches and islands. 

Apart from one days paddling in a thunder and lightning storm the weather was fantastic.  To round off the trip we paddled the short section of fairly steep white water below the Dam.  The team rafted it and the leaders stole some kayaks (a battered redline, spoon like paddlers, ribbed BA and Roma helmet – classy!).

For more information on World Challenge Expeditions click HERE.


Moroccan Water (Some of it White)

I thought I’d better put some photos up from a paddling trip to Morocco – its a brilliant Easter destination; good weather, amazing food and even a bit of paddling hidden away in the Atlas mountains….

[All Photo’s are courtesy of David Fairweather and his rather large peli box full of technical wonders]

We got Lost

We got lost on this huge and beautiful lake as we paddled around trying to find out driver – the lake marked the end of our two day descent.

Pete Cornes and Chris Smith Providing Some Local Transport

The locals didn’t seem surprised by our arrival, this river is commericailly rafted, not quite a tryweryn but as close as Morocco gets (and hopefully ever will).  Its the remote gorges, a feeling of complete removal from the real world while being so close to Europe that is Morocco’s big draw. 

Launcing from someones house into a river which spring from the ground into perfect crystal clear blue grade four

Everywhere we went to locals seemed to continue to be friendly; from giving us their spare tire to fix our second flat in as many hundred meters; to letting us sleep on their floor for a very small price; to seal launching from their living room into a river which springs from underground caves into a perfect crystal clear grade 4 rapid.

And last but not least – there was some amazing white water.  Yes we did have to drive around a lot to find it, yes we (Chris E) had to battle with our driver to take us anywhere vaguely non touristy and yes we found our fair share of empty river beds.  But the white water we did find was clean, clear and very good quality and above all it was in a brilliant and remote landscape.

Happy Days

Wildcatz promoted to Div 2

In a crazy turn around final tournament we managed to get the right results to steal Manchesters top spot and win the Div 3 North national polo league: with the new rules this means automatic promotion.

It was all very exciting – we only beat Manchester with a last minute lob shot of a goal.  It came down to the wire with Selkirk as well.  Definitely a very close battle for the top two positions.  It leaves Manchester to fight through the play offs to regain their Div 2 position.

Many thanks to Duncan and team for organising the league. 


River Moose – New York State

It was August and September 2007 when we went exploring the North Eastern States of America for some paddling; we knew we’d get the Yough and the Gauley and the Beaver and some other good dam releases, but at the same time we were disappointed that we would miss the October Moose Fest.  However some locals persuaded us it could still be a jolly, even at low summer flows so we went and investigated….

 Big slide on the moose

I’ve seen pictures of this drop when there’s actually some water – quite a terrifying hole forms at the bottom. [Chris and Nick]

Chris on the Slotty Drop

Chris on a little slotty drop further down the Moose

There was some definite scrapeage between the drops – when the river widened there wasn’t really enough water.  However the weather was amazing and when we did get to the drops they were fun and picturesque.

Toms Head on the Moose
Bottom of the Slot – Tom goes deep 🙂

One car was always an issue – at the end of this run Jo and I had a long walk back to the car.  It was quite intimidating: crazed dogs, suspected of rabies, even the squirrels were a potential threat.  It was a real wilderness walk!

River Moose - Chris Smith

Chris: The final drop of the day, just a huge reservoir and our long walk.

Black River Gorge: New York State

This river runs throughout the summer and has some sweeeet play waves as well as some pretty big drops – it was fairly low so the gorge wasn’t too pushy.  The Poop Shoot still provided entertainment and butterflies for all (good downtime opportunities…).

Pete was still playing around with his fancy new digital SLR and as you can see I’ve been playing around with photoshop!

Poop Shoot
Scally #1

Chris on the Poop Shoot
Scally #2
Like most of the rivers we paddled in the States (Summer 2007) the water was really warm; even though we didn’t have the sunshine it was still a thermal only type of day.  Special thanks to Tom for nailing the ‘slot of depth’ and surprising us by passing through it with relative ease…
Play Wave in the Gorge:
Chris on what I think is Inner City Straits play wave…
The Big ‘L’ : I think this is the Inner City Straits Playwave on the Black River Gorge : Either way it was very fast and superfun.

Wildcatz Div 3 Polo – Tournament 2 (Stockport)

This tournament was incredible – we only had four games again but some of them were going to be the hardest games of the season (both Manchester and Selkirk were demoted Div 2 teams and we’d seen Matlock playing well in the last tournament at York).

 A pleaseant warm up against FOA helped our goal difference with a 7-0 win.  In high spirits we played our hardest game against Manchester: first half was perhaps evenly played but they piled on the pressure in the 2nd with more than one chaotic fight under our nets.  I guess this is why it was so good to sneak a beautiful goal and beat them 1-0!

Selkirk turned out to be easier than expected with a comfortable 5-2 win and then a pretty scrappy game left us  3-1 clear against Matlock (with an amusing penalty given to little Pete after he had his head slammed onto the offending players boat… :-/).

Beer and Curry were much needed – Rusholme called and we answered.  Quality, quality evening.

Irish Team Photo


[From left to right: Chris, Pete, Steve, Davis, Matt – this is from Irleand 2005 (I need a more recent team picture with Matt Wray on it!!)]



Chris and Jo in the C2

The annual British Universities Sports Association White Water Racing was held for the 4th time on the Washburn near Harrogate.  Lots and lots of students and racing – I think Manchester University took 10 people but we must’ve competed in about 40 races (guess!).  Fun and frolicks in sinking C1’s, smashed C2’s and simply unstable White Water Racers!  I guess it was always going to be an exciting weekend; I think Mr Fairweather and I learnt humility in paddle choice (Dave more than me :-)), and anyone who went with half a paddle usually relearns the fear of grade 3!

Chris K1 Main Washburn DropChris K1 on Main Washburn Drop - puffed cheeksChris K1 on Main Washburn Drop - big hitChris K1 on Main Washburn Drop - powering through

The Results were:

Manchester overall: 6th Position

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