Fen paddling

It wasn’t part of my Broads canoeing project, but last week I took my Sevylor Colorado Premium inflatable canoe over to my daughter’s home city of Ely, in order to take her out for a paddle on the Ouse, her local river. Wherever one chooses to paddle, it invariably takes a certain element of research to check on the basics of access and car parking. But with roadside parking right next to the moorings along a lovely green, it couldn’t have been better.

Most of the Broads rivers I’ve been paddling on are pretty murky, so it was a delight to find ourselves gliding across crystal clear water. In many places along the bank there were carpets of lily pads with yellow flowers, elsewhere the lilies were submerged, looking a bit like crumpled laundry. Dragonflies flitted about, and every stalk poking out of the water seemed to have at least one beautiful translucent blue damselfly parked on it.

If we’d been paddling on a Broads river of comparable width, the passing boat traffic would have been pretty near constant. So it was another pleasant surprise to find we had the river pretty much to ourselves for most of the time. When we were passed by boats, they tended to be narrowboats, visiting from the adjoining canal system. We managed to get three miles upriver, where we stopped for a while at the 48 hour moorings at Little Thetford. While not aware of the current paddling upstream, the return journey was marginally quicker, with the “Ship of the Fens” – the towering mass of Ely Cathedral – visible pretty much all of the way back.

As an exploratory trip it was pretty good, and we’ll certainly be back for more. And at some point I’m going to have to take my canoe on the River Cam through Cambridge, but in the meantime, I have plenty more to do on the Broads.

The kit
Canoe: Sevylor Colorado Premium
Personal Flotation Device: Palm Taupo
Satnav: Satmap Active 10 plus UK 1:50,000 scale map
Accessories: Riber throw line (used with karabiner for mooring), dry bag, PFD

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