Posts Tagged ‘Wensum’

Let your Yare be yeah…

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

My first paddle of 2014 turned out to be the kayak trip down the River Yare I’d been planning for over a month. Planning, because I wanted to be able to leave Norwich at or soon after high tide, which had to be at a point in the morning to enable me to do the 14.5 miles from Norwich to Cantley in daylight hours. Places to launch a kayak or canoe in Norwich are fairly limited, and some involve quite a long drop at anything other than high tide – besides, I wanted the water moving in my direction. And I wanted the wind coming more or less from the west, as I knew that too would be a factor on the lower stretch of the river. When those factors all came together, I was even given the added bonus of sunshine!

Paddling down the Wensum through Norwich city centre is always interesting. I enjoy seeing the familiar places from unfamiliar angles, and kayaks on the water here are scarce enough for you to catch people doing double-takes as they spot you floating by. And I think the Wensum’s various bridges, which date from the 14th to the 21st centuries, look so much better from the water.

I found quite a few sporty rowing types out on the Yare near Whitlingham. Everything from single-seater jobs all the way up to eights with a chap shouting words of encouragement from a following motor boat. I never could see the attraction of rowing, only ever getting to see where you’ve been. I like to see where I’m going!

My final bridge – the last road crossing of the Yare between Norwich and Great Yarmouth – was impressive. The Postwick (pronounced locally as “Pozick”) Viaduct carries the A47 southern bypass around Norwich. When you’re driving along it, you’re merely aware that you’re above the surrounding countryside. From the water, it’s quite an imposing sight, with the bridge spanning not just the river but the entire valley.

A little further on I encountered a chap paddling a sit-on-top kayak, so we stopped and chatted for a few minutes. He mentioned he’d launched from Postwick Wharf a little downstream, where boss of local canoe holiday operator TheCanoeMan Mark Wilkinson was fishing. Having recently interviewed Mark over the phone for my paddling feature in the January 2014 issue of Anglia Afloat magazine, this seemed rather a strange coincidence. So we too had a chat when I arrived there.

Brundall was more or less halfway. With two possible take-out points close to railway stops, this would be my escape route if I found it too hard going. But so far I was doing well.

The river widens out further downstream, and with less tree cover on the banks, the wind was a bit more difficult when it wasn’t directly behind me, and in any event it was putting a bit more of a chop on the water. My first sight of steam rising from the sugar refinery at Cantley came when I still had five miles to go. Talk about tantalising – there was even a moment as I got closer where it seemed I’d overshot, down to the twists and turns of the river, of course.

I was getting pretty tired by the time I pulled in to tie up at the Reedcutter Inn, next door to the sugar refinery at Cantley. Four and a half hours paddling time, and 15 minutes of stops, so I’d managed to average well over 3 mph down a very nearly deserted river. Appropriately enough, the beer I had here was called Endeavour!

The kit
Kayak: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame
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

Amazon Kindle book: “The Broads – A unique National Park”. Everything you want to know about the history, wildlife and landscape of the Broads, along with a guide to places you can visit.