Best foot forward, a watershoe review

Drysuit socks, mossy rocks and running are some  (but not all) things to consider when buying watershoes for any paddling activity.

For white water kayaking but also sea kayaking and open canoeing in particular you need some good soild footwear. These days that is  usually a watershoe or boot. A quick draining item that has a really nice grippy sole. This is important for moving about safely on the river bank amongst the mossy rocks or seaweed covered shores. An injury caused by falling over could have terrible consequence.

Watershoes rather than wetsuit boots tend to fit over the modern paddling wear better that a wetsuit boot. With a nice fleecy sock inside they are just as warm and can still allow the foot to breath a little.

Here are three very popular models that we have on a special offer for a limited time.
Grab a bargain online or instore.

Five Ten Water Tennie
The Water Tennie is a total classic paddling item.  This reincarnation brings together the ultra sticky 5.10 stealth C4 rubber (developed for rock climbing shoes).
The slightly higher ankle offs a bit more support in uneven terrain. A big rubber toe cap gives good protection and grip if you are kneeling in an open canoe and can let you even do a bit of scrambling in those awkward spots.
The Water Tennie has a slightly narrower fit than the Rassler and Camber,but not supper narrow. Remember to have enough room for drysuit socks (if you use them)  and some fleecy liners.
All in all a light weight, sturdy, well fitting classic. In the snazzy Ocean Depths Blue colour or a business like Black and Grey. 

Now with £10 off the RRP for a limited time JUST £75.00

Astral Rassler
The Astral Rassler is another ankle height boot. There is a low back on it though and this allows a full range of movement. Quick draining and made from fully synthetic materials that don't absorb water. They have a clever little drain in the heal. 
These boots generally come up a little smaller so you might need to go up a half size or even a full size to fit in socks and drysocks. 

Check out this Bobby dazzler deal £89.00 including Shipping. 

Palm Camber Shoe   

The new kid on the block. The Palm Camber shoe is the lighter weight shoe based on the popular Gradient shoe. 
A softer more flexible sole unit from Vibram and a full mesh upper make this the ideal shoe for summer (and winter) but for a less demanding environment. The mesh upper is not quite as supportive as the Gradient Shoe but its perfect for most jobs, Sit on top kayaking, SUP (paddleboarding) sea kayaking and more. 
Good enough to wear to the pub afterwards (or cafe for post paddle cake). 
The Cambers have a good fit and are slightly wider that the Rasslers or Tennies and fine with a drysuit sock in them. 

Don't slip up on this offer:
 Palm Camber shoes now just £60.00

We have all sizes available and can offer expert advice on performance and fitting in store. Come in and try some on. 


Womens Sea Kayak Festival South Devon

                                                     Photo: Womens Sea kayak Festival. 

Next weekend (Sat 22nd - Monday 24th August) sees the first South Devon Womens Sea kayak festival take place. 

This will be an exciting event for all women paddlers with an interest in the salty stuff, beginners included.

There is a full programme of things to do including:

Coaching from top level coaches including Justine Curgenven and Cackle TV
Guided trips,
Marine life paddles
Camping and expedition info
Ocean navigation
4 star training, 
Evening talks and films
Incident management and much more. 
Don't forget the social aspect as well, food, drinks and lots of talking and no doubt laughter. 

For all the info check out the website and facebook page.


The Great Glen Canoe Trail

"Sleeping out, in November, in Scotland, with out tents?"   "You must be mad" they said.
Well maybe, but Max and I had some holiday to use up before the end of the year and the rivers had dried up in the South West for the time being. Here's what happened:

A plan was very loosely hatched to go and paddle across Scotland. Some spare time, access to some long boats and a love of multi day boating and living out of a boat being the key factors on deciding to go. 
The Caledonian canal is a classic touring / sea kayaking paddle that goes from Fort William on the west side of Scotland to Inverness on the east coast. 

The full Great Glen canoe trial is 90km but we cut it short by ooh at least 1km by starting at Banavie at the top of the Neptunes staircase just outside of Fort William and finishing at Muirtown locks, Inverness. Only the truly dedicated start about 500 meters before on the sea loch but it means crossing a railway and road.  Portages we didn't need to do and as we woke up next to the put in it seemed a bit daft.

To keep this from being a mega long epic of a blog with millions of details about what we ate every meal or how many times Max swam (unfortunately it was none, I might have had a little technical dismount on entry at one point.sshh) or even the complete history of the canal.

This is a great trip that could easily be done by families with youngish kids or even for those with less experience. This is for a couple of reasons.

  1. Logistics: Sorting logistics for this trip are easy. We did very little planning and it was straight forward. Park at one end, get on the water and paddle to the other end stopping when you feel like it or when the weather tells you to. We parked right next to the put in for free and got a bus back from Inverness at the other end to collect the car from Fort William. Ok so its a bit of two-ing and frowing but it cost £6.00 on the bus. No drama! 
  2. Facilities: The Great Glen trail is well catered for in terms of facilities. Flushing toilets, hot showers, clothes and dish washing facilities are all available at fairly regular intervals. You can access these by purchasing a Scottish water ways key from the Canal office at Corpach sea loch at the very beginning of the trail or at the other end at Muirtown in Inverness. This makes travelling with kids much easier in terms of hygiene and keeping up moral. You don't have to use these if you want to do it " Hardcore". We did use the toilets and a shower. Just the one though, we had to keep some level of dirt bag boater image up. The second item you can get from the office is a swipe card for the composting loos that are located at the Trail Blazer sites along the route. These are either just small camp spots some times with a fire pit and room for a couple of tents or tarps. One of these spots also had a nice 3 sided wooden shelter. This would have been great to sleep in as the location next to the water was great. Shame it was early on our second day. There are meant to be more of these shelters according to the guide book but they are not to be found. This was also a shame as we had counted on using the one on the shore of Loch Ness on our 3rd day. A good job the weather held out and we didn't need it. A warm and brightly burning fire with plenty of wine made up for it. The other thing that might make it easier which we didn't use is of course electricity!
  3. Easy paddling: Ok this might be a touch subjective but we were lucky and only had some light-ish winds against us for a few hours on a couple of days. Its flat water in the most part. The head wind did give us some waves on Loch Lochy but nothing big, stick close in and they were greatly reduced. The passing windfarm ships gave us some nice wakes to surf. Gave the driver the signal and they revved it up a bit for more wake! We combined a few days and mixed up the suggested sections a bit as we just wanted to crack on a bit at times and wanted better camp sites. We didn't paddle the river sections as we were in composite sea kayaks however we have a suspicion they would be quite paddleable in plastic ones (portaging the weirs)
  4. The scenery, ecology and culture: This has to be one of the main reasons for going to Scotland in the first place. Majestic is a word that is commonly used and rightly so. Ben Nevis towering over the Neptunes staircase lock flight at Banavie is a fitting start for Scotlands first Canoe Trail.  With the mist and fog settling down on the the mirror smooth waters of Loch Ocih on our second day we could have easily been on the  Boundary waters of Minnesota. 

Our first portage taught us a lot. Keep your straps from rubbing on the wheels, use your Palm Snake Sling to make a nice over the shoulder kayak holder. Also place the trolley fairly central so the boat is well balanced and make sure you go through the decklines. If the wheels hit a rock or curb the trolley will tend to slip backwards. You don't want to drop your fully loaded composite kayak on the floor. 

We set up camp on our first day after just 2 hours paddling. This meant we could set up and go through our hastily packed gear. If we had left anything behind it wasn't too far to go back for it. This is a lovely spot. Toilets and showers if you wanted them. 

Setting off on our first morning. A beautiful start to the day. 

Heading into Loch Lochy.

Max paddling out of South Laggan in to Laggan Avenue. 


                         In the mist on Loch Oich looking for a campsite that doesn't exist.

Fort Augustus. At this point we thought it was pretty quite on the water in the mornings and that it was taking time to clear or burn off the mist. 

 Portaging the lock flight at Fort Augustus we thought we would head to a cafe for a cuppa. When we found all the shops shut we realised that Max's watch was set an hour early.  This was good news in a way, it meant we had been stopping early so more wine time and getting up early so more paddling time but colder starts. The downside was only the butchers was open for food and drink.  Nice hot bacon and black pudding rolls but the worst cup of coffee ever.

Loch Ness treated us to a spectacular view. 

 A very nice speedy but relaxed paddle on Loch Ness to get us to our third campsite. Ewart sporting the Kokatat Tec Tour jacket and Ronin pro pfd

No tents, just tarps

                                                                     Urquhart castle.
We enjoyed a nice little wake surf from some passing ships here.
 Thought about stopping and then thought about finishing that day, eating and finding more wine.

Inverness. End of the road. I  had a quick shower and went in search of the bus station to do the shuttle (and some fish chips and a sneaky pint while waiting for the bus), while Max sorted the boats.  Job done, total paddling time 17.5 hours. Not fast, not slow but thoroughly enjoyable.



Valley Nordkapp 40th anniversary edition - The Forti

In 2015 the Nordkapp will be 40 years old. Prehaps one of the most influential sea kayak designs ever produced. Designed specifically for a 500 mile expedition up the Norwegian coast to its most northerly point, this was the start of sea kayaks being used for extended recreational trips.
For some the boat gained a reputation as being unstable, this was predominantly with lighter paddlers and  unloaded boats. For its 25th anniversary it was made a bit more "user friendly" and named the Nordkapp Jubilee. Again very popular but some had felt it had lost some of its soul. 
With the release of the LV in more recent times Valley brought back some of the liveliness. 

With the 40th anniversary "Forti" edition the boat has lost none of the soul, keeps the classic looking lines and offers a sporty but considered ride. In essence the Forti is the kayak that would be produced today from the original brief and blue prints, after all the sea hasn't changed. 
Still a "True Classic" with an upto date twist.

Stunning clean and unmistakable lines

          New tweaks to the deck such as the forward day hatch are practical with out deviating from                          performance or looks. This will replace the removable pod across the range.

                     Skeg slider is nicely flush to the boat so you don't bang your knuckles on it.

New security bar. A very sensible addition. 

                                   Amazing carbon kevlar construction with superb finish.
                                  Yakimas footrests as standard to keep the high quality out fitting.


Come and give it a spin. We have one for you to try.


Sea Kayaking in Brittany

With the cold drawing in, I thought I'd bring out some nice warm and sunny pictures. Here is a little write up about my summer trip I did to Brittany with my boyfriend Andy, we packed the kayaks (I took the P&H Cetus LV and Andy was in the Perception Essence 17) and road bikes and headed out to stay near Le Pouldu.

Here are a few pictures of some of the trips we did.

This was our first day paddling, the weather was lovely. It was sunny and warm and the sea was pretty calm for us to get out and start exploring.

We paddled along the coast and found Port De Doelan a lovely little village and stopped for a spot of lunch.

On our second day we decided to go a little further, the tides were right so we paddled up the La Laita River from Le Pouldo to Quimperle where we stopped for lunch before paddling back down again. It was a good 20 mile paddle, but definitely worth it as the scenery was great and we saw some wildlife including a dear and turtles or terrapins.

Whilst we were paddling along a deer swam across the river in front of us.


Once we reached the town the river forked and both were impassable because of weirs, this being one of them.

Grand railway bridge on the way back.

It got a little hot on the way back so I got my legs out to cool off.

The final day of paddling involved a quick paddle to an island not far off the coast and a spot of lunch.

Also on our trip we did some really nice road biking, ate some yummy French food and plenty of ice creams. What more could you want from a holiday?