On Friday, I was paddling with my good friend and fellow outdoor instructor Martin Digby. Our intention had been to paddle the Afon Bawy but with lower than expected water levels we needed an alternative plan and without too much thought we opted to paddle on the River Dee but with upstream travel traditional skills. There are two main themes of traditional skills and these are using a pole work and using a rope work. Upstream travel with a pole is usually termed poling where as downstream travel is known as snubbing. For the rope, upstream travel is called tracking and downstream travel is known as lining.
Our plan for the day was to start at the top pool on the River Dee and make our way upstream to the motor museum rapids without using the paddle. To start our journey off we opted to practice with the pole which was great fun and I’m pleased o say that swim count was 1 to 2 in my favour. It was good to practice with the pole and looking at the skills of power poling, walking the pole, pole paddling, moving sideways and it was surprising how effortless it became to move upstream with bit of peer coaching.
At the next set of rapids we opted for some tracking and very soon we had the bridles attached and the boats moving effortlessly upstream before switching back to the pole to make the journey up to the motor museum rapids. The water here can get quite deep so we used the pole as a paddle quite effectively to progress upstream.
Reluctantly, after a bit of playing in the rapids we made our way back downstream taking time to play in the rapids looking at the use of the ‘squeeze stroke’ to cross the flow, Speed, Angle, Launch / Landing spot and Edge (SPANGLE) models and discussing our favourite river leading strategies (Red, Amber & Green) being the most popular.
Just to round things off we looked at snubbing down a set of rapids before getting off the water. I had a great day on the water practicing traditional skills which are very useful skill set to have despite not being called on to teach it that often.
If you’re interested in reading Martin’s side of the story, have a look his blog entry about our day out.
To see more pictures of the day please click here.
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