For our recent #GoProAdventures challenge we were aided and abetted by some really fabulous Outdoor Activity companies here in Dorset. Here’s the first in the series about our Dorset Adventures – River Kayaking in Wareham.
Our two eldest had both tried Kayaking on a school’s activity week, but the rest of the family had never set foot in one. So it was with a nervous shiver of trepidation running under the excitement that we headed to Wareham for our river kayaking session.
Wareham Boat Hire is totally simples to find -head down out of town and as you approach the bridge, look right. Hey presto, one long line of boats and kayaks! We headed back into town to find parking, then walked back to the bridge to collect our afternoon’s activity.
Now the 7yr old, ole Captain Fearless as she is called by those who know her, was strangely frightened of the whole kayaking thing. No idea why – she doesn’t think twice about big heights or speedy speed, and she swims like a fish. But for some reason, being in a narrow boat worried her. Handily, the husband isn’t all that keen on deep water; so he agreed the best course was for him to take her out in a rowing boat, and they could potter whilst I took the older boys upriver in the kayaks.
But when it came to actually putting on life jackets and selecting kayaks, Captain Fearless decided that actually she’d *whispers* “really like to do the kayaks, they look awesome!”. That’s my girl.
Obviously that then left the husband as a Norman No-Mates in a rowing boat by himself. So he eyed up the double kayak, and volunteered to take Bear in the front of his, as she’s too young to paddle herself.
We all tugged on the oh-so-flattering life jackets, and headed to the kayaks lined up on the ramp. It wasn’t really a long, complicated lesson before we got in: “here’s your paddle, climb in, sit down… Ready?”
One shove down the ramp and No. 1 was away into the river. We all followed quickly behind, and before we knew it all six of us were mid stream, and rapidly figuring out how to turn, stop and the essential Go Faster!
You can go either way from the bridge – upstream, or head for the coast. We only had an hour, and as we were all novices we decided the best thing would be to fight the current while we were fresh, so we all turned right and headed inland.
Kayaking is… Fabulous. We all fell in love. It’s so easy to grasp the basics that even your first time in the water you don’t feel like an incompetent idiot and can pretty much control your kayak (we’ll gloss over the numerous bank crashes, and various entanglements with overhanging willows….).
The peace of the river is a joy (though I can imagine this would be limited in the height of season, Wareham’s a popular spot). The husband and Bear soon outstripped us as they quickly found a working rhythm that sent their double-paddled kayak streaking off upstream. Up ahead in the quiet of just the two of them they saw a kingfisher, and lots of bankside wildlife as they quietly paddled along.
Further downstream I was holding my own with the boys, who were as intent on splashing each other as they were on perfecting their paddling technique. Noisy and splashy we didn’t see much wildlife, but we did have a great time!
Using our family hiking pattern, I stuck to the back to make sure no one got left behind, miserably paddling to try and keep up. But no one did. We all had different speeds we were comfortable with, but no one struggled, and every one of us had a ball. The hour had been long enough for us to go as far as was allowed upstream, under the road bridge and on to where the river began to narrow a little. We were then able to enjoy the easier ride back downstream with the current. When our hour was up we were reluctant to head back to the bank (though a couple of us realised our arms had been working harder than we realised, and were very glad we had gone upstream first!).
It was a perfect family adventure – brilliantly active out in the sunshine (or greyness, as we had), and so much FUN! Most of us got rather soggy (novice kayak paddling tends gets a bit splashy…), though the husband and daughter stayed perfectly dry in the double kayak. He claims it was simply better technique. We say his kayak had higher sides…
Boy managed to accidentally-fall-off midstream. Apparently he was trying to see if you could actually stand up in a Kayak. Obviously.
It’s obviously NOT advisable near the bridge on a busy day, but it was all quiet when we were there, and he’s a strong swimmer, so aside from a squelchy walk back to the car there was no harm done. He wasn’t very repentant, that’s for sure.
So a big thank you to Wareham Boat Hire for our afternoon adventure – we cannot wait to come back and do it again. Next time we have our eyes on heading out to Poole Harbour…
An hour’s Kayak Hire from Wareham Boat Hire costs £10 per kayak, and they include all safety equipment too. Double kayaks are £15.