An invitation came from Windermere Paddlers for Life 'join us for a paddle along the Lancaster Canal. That sounds nice I thought. On further reading I discovered that this was no leisurely Sunday afternoon outing!! The plan was for a journey of 30 miles!! Well - I thought - why not?
So very early on a rather damp July morning I parked my car at the finishing point and boarded the bus which was to act as crew transport and support vehicle for the Dragon boat's journey.
I must admit to feeling slightly apprehensive - I wasn't sure how well I was prepared for long distance paddling. My fellow Dragons at Port Edgar had done their best to help me train but I had no idea how far we usually paddled!!
The warm welcome from other Paddlers on the bus was lovely - but I think we were all a little daunted by how long it took to drive to the start!! At 8:10 we boarded Artemis Phyllis - (wonderfully pink and decorated with flowers!!) and set off at an easy paddling pace. The canal scenery was very different from the marina at Port Edgar, meandering through beautiful countryside – contrary to my preconceptions – canals are not straight!! The miles passed surprisingly quickly – travelling from open countryside to wooded areas completely roofed in green.
Highlights of our canal journey?
The friendliness and camaraderie of my fellow paddlers
The cycle support team who escorted us all the way so that folk knew we were coming and who we were and made a photographic record of our journey.
Our mile marker – the yellow cyclist who appeared at the end of each mile (sometimes surprising us from behind bushes!!) – he was always greeted with a cheer!!
The herd of cows who galloped to the waters edge to stare in amazement at this pink dragon paddling past their field. We were a little concerned that they were planning to join us in the water!!
The people watching from the bank and from the canal boats – clapping and shouting words of encouragement and quite literally cheering us on our way!!
After 12 miles we had a change of helm and some new paddlers to give us 20 in the boat!!
Another six miles and we arrived in Lancaster and I was so pleased to see a Port Edgar Dragon waiting to cheer us on to the end of our paddling stage – my fellow paddlers were so very friendly and welcoming but it was lovely to see a familiar face - thank you Helen – it was lovely to see you there!!
The second crew completed the journey to the end of the canal and (despite the motorway being closed) Liam, our coach driver, got us to the finish in time to cheer them in!!!
It was such a rewarding and lovely day – full of beautiful scenery and friendly faces – and there is talk of doing it again next year. I will certainly be keen to take part – anyone else up for it??