It seemed quite a while since the Clan of the Burger Burners had gathered so I thought I should take the chance to get two birds with one stone; get on the water and use it as a way to say thanks to Chris for putting together the weekend in Brockwell Woods back in March. As it turned out most folks were busy on the day so it was only Chris and Joel who joined me for a sometimes wet but otherwise good day.
Joel and I travelled in convoy from York to Boroughbridge to meet Chris at the picnic spot by the weir (our finishing spot). Arriving a little early, we noticed a car parked up but no Chris. Still we were a little early, but wait, what's this? From the undergrowth, a shaking of shrubbery and Chris emerged clutching some willow sticks for the firebow tutorial he planned for us later.
With greetings made we headed for the 'put in' by Rhodesfield Lock. a bit more yarning before we unloaded boats and kit, leaving Chris to look after the stuff while Joel and I shuttled the cars. No sooner had we set off for Boroughbridge in the cars when the heavens opened. It really slung it down, proper sea with slits in stuff! Joel and I were both thinking the same thing, that Chris would be soaking when we got back to him. As it turned out, his waterproofs were quality bits of kit and you'd be hard pressed to tell that he'd been out in it.
Soon on the water and on our way, a little drizzle now and then, but nothing to dampen the spirits. Two locks to negotiate with the second having a greater distance to the water from the little key than I remembered, still, simple to climb down once the boats were in the water. A hundred yards further on and we joined the River Ure. Wide and slow with plenty of Willows lining the banks. The gentle flow easing us along toward our lunch spot.
Westwick weir is a spot I've used many times for picnic stops on previous canoe trips. I was a bit surprised this time to see that a fair bit of work has been done on the weir in recent years. Not quite the pleasant little spot I'd used before, but it'd do for our needs.
Sad to say but Joel and I had failed badly on the cooking our lunch on site. Chris, however, made up for us by whipping up a quick bannock mix and he was soon cooking on gas. Shame the gas wasn't easier to control than being; as the tortoise said, "off and onable!" the scent wafting over was still tempting though.
Chris had his homemade Lynx can meths burner to show us too, seemed a shame to not use its flame and it very efficiently heated my water for a cup of hot chocolate.
That image doesn't show the flames blooming, but I assure you it worked very well. I particularly like the 'Extremely Flamable and Recyclable' lables!
The overcast sky turned to drizzle, so up went the tarp. It then became rain, and settled on the sea with slits in again. So this was our view while we finished food and drinks. I'd not thought about having window boxes for the tarp before, but I think it's quite effective. :)
Sitting under the tarp with the rain hammering down is a very satisfying feeling. Joel was thoroughly enjoying himself as the rain lashed down.
...and the rain came down! Maybe we should have turned the boats upside down too, still, it gave them a wash out. While we chilled, Chris set to making the bow and drill set to show me how he does it. I'd been successfull in the past, but had left it a long time between attempts and lost the knack. I'm very grateful that Chris offered to show me his technique.
After Chris had created the set he demonstrated the technique he uses, so I could try. So, I started by burning a fresh hole and got ready for the full burn. First attempt I was just short of a proper ember, but the technique Chris uses is to fill the notch with dust before setting off on the heat producing part of the drilling, so with the notch still full I had a second go at the heat creating bit again and achieved my ember, which, as you can see, with some Reedmace down and Birch bark was turned into a flame. Yeah, I know, you've all seen fire before, but I'll have you know I made that flame by rubbing two sticks together.
So, after our fire making and general playing was over and the weather had improved, we set off again. The river was pretty low and the area below the weir very shallow. Still, after a bit of footwork to free ourselves from the shallows we were soon on our way again. We'd swapped boats after lunch, I'd not paddled an Apache before and must confess to have been itching to try Joel's. So Joel and Chris went together in 'Jus Chillin' while I satisfied my curiosity. Very nice it was too, my only criticism would be that the seats could be a little higher for my size nines to fit under comfortably while kneeling, but otherwise I liked it alot! Hmm, I wonder if I'd get away with adding a fith boat to the fleet?
As you can see, this is a lovely bit of river, but we'd only seen two other boats moving while we were on the water. I always think this is a shame, but I guess I should be grateful that so few people make use of it. Joel and Chris looked comfortable in JC. Chris' Rufus Ruffcut impression is coming on nicely too! :p Sorry Chris, couldn't resist. :)
We paddle on yarning as we went, taking it easy and pootling along. All to soon we were paddling under the A1 and the get out came into view. Despite the rain I think we all really enjoyed getting out for a paddle. Thanks again to Chris for all his demos, very much appreciated! A pleasure to see you again Joel. I hope we can get together again soon fellas.
Written by Al Girling