Whitewater Aptitude is an idea in development to highlight Gavin Hart's skills, adventures and accomplishments with an insight into the thoughts and feeling he has throughout his journeys. As well as this blog please visit his Photography Portfolio Website showcasing his best photography. For shorter more regular updates on Whitewater Aptitude adventures Like it on Facebook or Follow on Twitter. Get in contact via email using gavin@whitewateraptitude.co.uk

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Travel Writing #1 Leven and Rothay

Had two days paddling this week, both with Mike and Tom again. One full day on the top half of the River Leven, Cumbria, at a good level that produced a number of reasonable sized surf waves for me to practice on. Personally I've been really pushing to improve my ability and confidence on waves over the past few weeks and am starting to get comfortable at front surfing just need to work on my side and back surfing then I'll be flat spinning!!

My second day paddling was spent on the River Rothay, Cumbria. The river was super high and had burst its banks in certain areas. At this level the river produced some great sized waves which I was able to get on and surf most, which was a great success for myself. The river level made for the lower quarter to have some very precarious low tree branches that we had to slalom our way through. One set caught me off guard and decided to catch my paddle and brush me over.

The danger of tree branches hanging into/over the river (strainers) is that, if you get caught up in them there is a good chance of you getting caught up in them for a while possibly underwater. Add in the factor that no kayakers on earth yet have developed gills makes them very dangerous.
Mike and Tom on the Leven
After going over, in that moment of my C to C roll when finding the top of the water I remember thinking to myself "If I don't roll up now there is a good chance I could die". Knowing this must have made my brain and muscles go into a state of fight (or flight) mode, as I performed my best roll to date, super quick and tucked up forward ready to paddle to avoid the next set of branches. We then paddled down the rest of the river with no problems. All paddlers had done great, Mike had put on some great braces stopping himself from swimming and Tom had lead us down safely.
The banks of the Leven are lined with trees to, less lethal though at this water level.
We then came to the mouth of the flooded Rothay to recognise a friend’s boat floating upside down and people running towards it. We then also blasted towards it to see what was going on. Turns out our friend Bob and Chris had been paddling Stock Ghyll which flows into the Rothay and both swam. Chris was here. Where was Bob? No one knew where Bob was. We then attained as much information from Chris as possible about his last whereabouts to try and find him with the looming possibility that he had not managed to get out the river after coming out his boat and was stuck under the trees/ fences we had encountered earlier. We split up into three teams to search the three obvious locations where he could be stranded. At this point we could have been looking for a dead body. Luckily on our way, now running across flooded fields I see and hear Bob, safe and walking across the fields towards us. Turns out a miss communication and maybe lack of leadership created the confusion and thoughts, that our friend might be dead. We then went on to luckily find Chris's black blades and throwline at the entrance to Windermere along with the rest of the debris being washed out by the high waters. 

This was a crazy end to the day and shone a light on a real scenario/consequence that could well happen in the future due to the nature of my our sport. I often hear of kayakers that have passed away on the rivers all the stories are harrowing.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Twelve Hour Timelapse

This week has been a busy week for me mainly due to my new part time job at the Sands Center, Carlisle where I help build stages for concerts and theater productions. Its tough work and sometimes late hours but good pay to fill the car up with petrol so I can go Kayaking!

Unfortunately, since my last post, I have managed to get out kayaking only once and it wasn't the most successful trip to date either. The trip has been named as "The Reconnaissance Session". Our intended plan was for paddling on the River Kent (Kent Gorge to Force Falls section). However unforeseen problems lead to our team arriving at the river later then planned and with the now winter sun starting to set around 1630, getting on the river that you have never run before around 1500 wasn't ideal. However we carried on paddling the top three rapids. Portaged the weir "you really don't want to run". Then ended up portaging the rest of the rapids on the river due to the light levels, the fact that none of us had run these rapid before and weren't overly confident running them anyway. Not a total fail of a trip as we now have inspected the rapids and different lines we might want to run in the near future hopefully.

I had another go at creating a time lapse this week. Inside this time. The time lapse was over a period of roughly twelve hours and was during my work time. I left my camera to capture the building of the stage for the band Rizzle Kicks. The clip has come out well and I'm just waiting for approval from The Sands Center to add some music to it then they plan to pass it onto the company SJB that manages Rizzle Kicks's tour, could be beneficial. Video below.


Tuesday night was spent in Kendal watching a presentation by Dom Bush about his inspirations in the adventure film making industry and showed some his own work. A good chilled out event.

Today again I spent my time in Kendal at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival. A great event where i was representing my university in the its yurt that had been setup to promote the uni. I also manged to escape that and watch a few ski films. Interviewed some adventure and media freelancers for my D..d...d.... (I dare not type it). Ate a load of free samples and gained a many freebies from the stalls there. The best freebies being the coat water-reproofing spray and wash which will save me £30. Brilliant!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


This week has sped by. Last Wednesday I managed again to get out paddling on the River Greta with Tom and Mike. This time however it had rained heavily the night before putting the level of the river well above the normal height that we had paddled it at before. This height was great and a good test of my ability and this time when paddling down rather then avoiding the rocks we had to avoid the large holes that had appeared. The level also created a number of reasonable surf waves in some good locations for practicing. I managed to get on and stay on a few of these waves for a solid amount of time which I'm happy about. Half way down, unfortunately, Mike took a swim and after we had got Mike out the water Tom and I went charging after his boat and blades which we managed to recover. For me a superb day having started off a little nervous about getting on the river at the level it was at to finding that I was more then capable at the level it was at.

More Paddling again at the weekend. I attended the Tyne Tour in Hexham. This event was a great social and although I didn't consider the paddling to be that great it was nice to meet new people and catch up with some people I hadn't seen for a while. I particularly enjoyed the Ceilidh, a Scottish dance, twinned with drinking kept us warm throughout Saturday night.