Ant-astic paddling!

As the weather warms up, I’m finding it rather easier to do Broads trips in my Sevylor Colorado Premium inflatable canoe which last a bit longer than a couple of hours. I still have to be mindful of getting tired, however, particularly when I’m on my own, so always make a point of turning back towards base while I still have something in reserve.

My most recent trip saw me on my own, using the double-bladed kayak paddle. I started out from Neatishead Staithe, paddling along beautiful Limekiln Dyke until it widened out into Barton Broad. From here I headed north, and while being out in a fairly large expanse of water guarantees a few bumps, it was a lot more pleasant than the last time I came here in December.

Just as I’d cleared the broad and was heading upstream along the River Ant, I heard a single low-frequency toot, rather like someone blowing across the top of a large bottle. Was it a bittern, the rare and elusive heron-like bird which lives in the reed-beds of the Broads? I had to wait until my return journey a couple of hours later to confirm my suspicions, when I heard several bittern calls.

Having been used to the trees lining the Broads rivers looking fairly stark throughout the winter months, it was a delight to see them with leaves, and some in blossom. And so I kept on paddling, all the way to Wayford Bridge and the head of navigation for Broads cruisers on the Ant. I kept on going a little bit further upstream, into the beginnings of the North Walsham and Dilham Canal, but decided that this was the point when I ought to be sensible and start heading back while I still had some energy!

I’d just passed the turning for Stalham when I heard the sounds of a steam engine puttering away behind me, and was greeted with the wonderful sight of the Falcon. Dating back to the 1890s, it’s a wooden launch powered by steam, with a distinctive brass chimney. Owned by the Museum of the Broads in Stalham, they’d just started their summer schedule of rides, which are not at all expensive. Definitely one for another day out!

In the meantime, the Broads canoeing project will be showing signs of progress with the first two features due for publication in the next few weeks. I’ll post details and links when available.

The kit
Canoe: Sevylor Colorado Premium
Personal Flotation Device: Palm Taupo
Satnav: Satmap Active 10 plus Broads 1:25,000 scale map
Accessories: Riber throw line (used with karabiner for mooring), dry bag, PFD

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