Andy Downing, the ‘Wet Weather Event Organiser Extraordinaire’, from our R&D team delivered another great canoeing trip for Stiltz Kingswinford last weekend.
9.45am bang-on schedule, seventeen of us met on the banks of the picturesque River Severn. Eight canoes and accompanying oars, dry bags, and buoyancy aids were waiting. Our adventure began with the aim of paddling ten and a half miles down the Severn – Britain’s longest river – from Bridgnorth to Arley.
This included a pub stop and a return train ride on the infamous Severn Valley Steam Railway. A nice relaxing day on the river…
As we all settled into our canoes, mastering the art of steering and paddling, some of us took to it like ducks to water, while others… ahem … took a little longer to master the skills. Then we were off on our adventure and what had started as a gentle day on the river soon became a little more competitive! Plenty of laughter and rather a lot of splashing courtesy of Andy and Richard meant no one escaped getting drenched.
A typical British summer’s day followed…
…with wind, rain, and sunshine all crammed into first hour. We were especially proud of our inability to work out left from right thereby annoying the local fishermen as well as being the only 3-person canoe team who mastered the art of spinning their canoe 360 degrees every 200 yards, much to the amusement of the ‘merry’ pirates following us downstream.
After a looooong stretch of water that seemed to go on forever, we still couldn’t see our much-needed pub stop on the horizon. The shoulder workout was beginning to kick in and the rain was coming down fast. At last! We rounded the corner and there was the pub. A hasty exit from our canoes and a scramble up the bank – beer and chips ahoy!
After an hour’s break, it was back to the river where delirium set in for the final stretch. A near-death experience: an oar-deal you might say, took place. Somehow, the 3-person canoe went totally off course, powering through the undergrowth. Instinctively, the crew hit the deck to avoid decapitation from the branches of a low-hanging tree, and somehow managed to avoid capsizing!
Then, Alistair and Andrew from R&D ended up in the river, some of you with a keener eye might notice why. Nothing to do with ‘I-do-all-my-own-stunts’ Andy dive bombing said canoe resulting in all three of them ending up in the water, much to the amusement of us all. A couple of groundings, canoeing down the ‘rapids’ in the wrong direction and various conversations with the swan and duck community along the way, more annoyed fishermen, a lost canoe with Hannah and Sam onboard. BUT the end was in sight!
Five hours after leaving Bridgnorth we could see Arley…
After a military-style extraction from our canoes, hugs, high fives, and getting used to walking with sea legs, we were reunited with Sam and Hannah who had missed the pub stop. We squelched our way up the hill to Arley Station, our trainers were soggy, but our spirits were high. Much to Alistair’s disappointment, there was no steam train running (he’s a self-confessed Thomas the Tank enthusiast), just a dirty diesel back to Bridgnorth. Our return journey was a little more subdued than when it had begun.
Back at Bridgnorth station, we all agreed we’d had a blast despite the fact there was a good chance we were now cultivating trench foot. The consensus was one of a great day out, lots of laughter, teamwork, fun and at times, competitive spirit, and a whole lot of banter (and soggy trainers).
Looking forward to the next Stiltz adventure!
Huge thanks to Andy, our ‘Wet Weather Event Organiser Extraordinaire’ and the guys and gals from Stiltz for a brilliant day on the river.