For the gold award, participants are required to undertake an unaccompanied expedition over 4 days observed by an independent assessor. However, before doing so they need to undertake a practice expedition to demonstrate they have acquired the skills to do this safely and I was asked by ProAdventure to run the the practice expedition for the group I had previously worked with in February (pre expedition training post).
Their practice expedition was to be on the River Severn between Melverley and Ironbridge.
Day 1 – Melverley to Montford Bridge (18km)
I met the lads at Melverley, where we quickly packed the boats and put on the water. As it had been some time since, they had been paddling I opted to paddle with the group to provide some direct input into their paddling, hazard awareness and navigational skills. The day passed without incident and I was soon able to take a back seat with the lads making all the decisions on the channels to take, breaks and lunch stops.
All too soon we arrived at the overnight campsite which was the Wingfield Arms at Montford Bridge. However, before getting off the water we practiced deep water rescues which was met with a certain degree of reluctance but undertaken with an air of confidence!
Day 2 – Montford Bridge to Atcham (33km)
This was to be quite a big day for the lads and I opted to meet them at selected points along the way to ensure they had passed safely through. Thy left the campsite around 09:00 and with a paddling speed of 4-5kph were at Shrewsbury Weir around 13:00, which requires a portage to negotiate it safely.
With the portage quickly executed, it was back on the water to paddle to Atcham (one of my favourite paddles) and the overnight campsite which was to be a wild camp in a farmers field. The lads quickly set up camp and cooked their evening meal and all confessed to being a little tired after the days paddling.
Day 3 – Atcham to Ironbridge (28km)
With good weather the lads set off on their last day to Ironbidge, which if you have never paddled this stretch of the River Severn is another nice paddle. By now the lads had really got the bit between the death and made it to Ironbridge just before 14:00.
As we had some time to spare, we opted to revisit a range of rescue techniques before getting off the water. Then over tea, we discussed the expedition and any learning points.
I’m pleased to saythat the lads have satisfactorily completed their training and I wish them well with their assessed expedition on the River Wye in August.