Discovery Award Gold - Paddle Awards Discover and Explore

>>  Sunday, August 01, 2021

Last November my passion for litter picking took to the water and that led to a new interest - canoeing 

I decided I wanted to be able to  go litter picking on the water in a proper canoe not just a bell boat for the unstable!  I signed up for a beginners session at a water pursuits centre and I have to say, it did not come naturally. But I stuck at it. Week after week. Sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend - canoes are so much easier in pairs!

It was all well and good going up and down the river once a week but by May I decided I needed some proper training, and I do like an award, so I did my British Canoeing Discover Award.  

So now  I could go in straight lines as a sole paddler - not as easy as it sounds!  I could go backwards through cones and sideways. Get in and out without squeeling at the rocking but I still had not actually fallen in and I think this was a bit of a mental block for me, I was constantly worried about what would happen if I did.

So now I took the bull by the horns and did my Explore award.   This involves understanding more about the water, the environment, how the weather affects things, what to wear, what kit you need, how to throw safety lines to help others and most importantly for me what to do when you fall in and how to save yourself.

Obviously I didn't take a camera with me and no one was there snapping so this is a borrowed photo but it does show you the type of boat and the start of a roll.  I kneel in a canoe and sort of perch my bottom on a wooden bar so your legs are tucked under, this has always bothered me about being trapped. It can often take me a while to get my crabby old knees to bend in and out.  

But I did rock my boat over, more than once, and get my head into the air pocket and my legs out. I swam pulling the boat , turned it and to get the water out of it.  I learnt to empty it in and out of the water.  I passed my Explore Award and am much, much less worried about falling in, I know what it feels like - cold and horrid mostly!  

I am immeasurably proud of myself.  I have gone the extra mile for my Discovery Gold Award - it requires 60 hours over 26 weeks - it did not require throwing yourself into a muddy, flowing, cold, litter soup numerous times to see if you drown or not!  

PS the water did not look like this the day of my course, it was not the day of glorious sunshine from the week before, it was the day after a day of massive storms. The water was up at least 3 more foot, running much faster, much colder and was totally churned up with silt and litter washing through- it was a truely gross day to fall in!!! I reckon it should have earnt double points.

I thought having to stop running because of injury would put an end to chasing the Discovery award for a while but as Maria Von Trapp says "When the Lord closes a door somewhere he opens a window" - it just turned out it was a soggy one.


Journey to the North - Part 4

>>  Wednesday, July 21, 2021

 Day 6 dawned bright and clear - my original intention had been to just head for home, but there were so many more stones to see, so we bought lunch from the supermarket (again) and headed up hill.

At this point I had a message from the AirBnB host to say she couldn't find her house keys, one check pockets later and I headed back down hill to return them  - told you I don't normally do the responsility part of going away! 

We headed up Heber's Ghyll which was a lovely walk, someone had taken the time to lay a dinosaur trail for children to follow too.

And onto the Swastika stone, the original (very hard to see) and a Victorian copy are both protected behind a barred fence.

The Sepulchre Stone 

Modern Art
Neolithic 'art' at hanging stones.
Another Stanza Stone - The Beck Stone, which was a challenge to find,  made a lovely place to sit and eat lunch by a babbling brook.
I was now burning away beautifully and it turns out that suncream and night cream tubes can look remarkably similar without reading glasses so I was just gently frying my skin rather than protecting it! 
But we walked on until mid-afternoon stone to stone across 5 miles before we parted and headed our seperate ways home.

Bearing in mind the health issues I have had this year and the general covid anst, this was a challenging trip but one that helped me to push boundaries and still come home more mentally relaxed than when I left.

So my Journey to the North for my Discovery Gold Award involved scrubbing toilets, sinks and showers, making tables, cleaning, laying out tents, making boxes. picking litter, walking up hills alone, and spending miles on the moor getting in touch with my neolithic roots.

I made new guiding friends, I extended my love of the north and learnt more about my neolithic ancestors - although I do think some of the more educated expert's interpretations of the stones are a bit off the mark.  I reckon a lot of these carvings are graffiti and nothing more, the drive of every person to leave some sort of mark on the world that means they are not forgotten.  You heard it here first ;) 

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