Category Archives: Trips

So, what happens on a white water weekend? By Eleanor Broome

Firstly, there is faff, which is basically where a bunch of kayakers attempt to get themselves organised as efficiently as possible, but never quite manage it. Faff is not something I had come across before I joined the club, but it’s this wonderful part of club life that you quickly get used to and secretly come to love. I’m fairly certain somewhere it is written, “OUCKC – faffing since 1952”. A rather fitting slogan.

For example, one of the first things we had to do was get our boats out of the shed. If we could do this with no faff, then we would just get the boats out of the shed. However, when an OUCKC paddler attempts to get their boat out, they nearly take out an overhanging light and a fellow paddler in the process, trip over an inconveniently placed buoyancy aid and stumble outside only to lose grip off their boat so that it tumbles unceremoniously on to the ground. Yes, I admit that was me faffing about with my boat. Actually, most of the other paddlers were a lot more graceful about it all, and we soon had our pile of kit assembled while we waited for the others and their cars to arrive.

The car that I would be riding in was heard before it was seen. It was squeaking as it trundled down the lane, and genuinely creaked to a halt. Quite possibly one of the best cars I have ever seen. Hannah and I were subsequently buried alive under various bags in the back, and we were off in a cacophony of squeaking and creaking to the well know establishment of haute cuisine, Aldi. The mission: to get enough food to feed fourteen hungry paddlers over a weekend under budget. Did we succeed? Yes. I’ll be honest, it looked a bit dicey there for a second, but we bravely pulled through and even went back to rescue some flapjacks that had been left behind.

The rest of the journey was a lot less eventful, although there was a cheeky tea (and Belgian chocolate caramel shortbread slice) stop on the way. There was also a brief moment where it looked like we were about to crash in to some horses, but we managed to dodge them and the sheep rather expertly. We were also entertained with stories of the great Maple Syrup heist that occurred a few years ago and we were informed of the potential dangers of catfish (no, I don’t know how we got on to these topics). We eventually arrived at our bunkhouse in the middle of the Dartmoor moors, and of course Chris had once again used the force to get there first.


The following morning, after an expertly cooked breakfast from our resident chef Cormac, we headed to the Dart Loop. What followed was, shall we say, scrapey. The water levels were rather low, and there were a ridiculous amount of rocks. Nevertheless, we got to practice skills such as ferry gliding and eddying in and out and how best to right oneself when you’ve hit a jolly big rock. Some of us beginner-y folk were even sent down some of the rapids first so that we could practice picking the line. For the most part this worked very well, until one of the fairly new people unexpectedly found the river disappearing over a drop, which in higher levels of water is known as ‘washing machine’. Incidentally, she picked a very good line and handled it very well! Well, there may have been some screaming, but that only added to the excitement. And I will admit that some of that screaming came from me.


There were a few swims due to all of the inconveniently placed rocks, but everyone paddled really well and us beginners felt like we were making progress. There was even one beginner who had never been on white water before and had only done a few Sunday sessions, who paddled brilliantly and did not take one single swim!


The get out was at a country park and involved a slightly too long portage up a hill. But we managed it and arrived at the car par to begin our tasteful car park changing act which we all have down to a fine art. Once we were all dressed, another paddler from a different club came to tell us that there were showers and a changing room for us to use round the corner. Great.


After a bit more faff, we got all the boats and kit on or in the car, and headed back to our bunkhouse. We then had a nice chilled evening chatting and drinking (I personally hit the tea), and there was also a game involving listing as many things as you can within a topic. Some of the more PG rounds that I’m allowed to type in this article included naming as many different kinds of biscuits as you can, and as many Harry Potter characters as you can. Our head cook then whipped up a delicious beef stew, and an equally tasty veggie version too. As it was Matt’s 21st, we even had some chocolate cake which involved the interesting task of cutting a square cake in to fourteen pieces. He sensibly cut it in to fifteen pieces, and then he was given the challenge of eating the last piece as quickly as possible. I believe he managed to annihilate the piece of cake in under ten seconds?

10904576_420635064767259_4814371085448394213_o (1)

The following morning, all the self-inflating mattresses were deflated, everyone collected the thermals that were hung up anywhere and everywhere, and we all set about cleaning the bunkhouse, ridding it of that wonderfully indefinable smell of river. After a very efficient clean up job with minimal faff, we headed to the river. We split in to two this time, with the more experienced paddlers giving the Upper Dart a bash, while the others took the beginner-y people down the Dart Loop, with the added bonus of the Lower Dart for the more energetic. We had another scrape-y, but nonetheless enjoyable bob down the Dart, and we all reconvened at the country park carpark ready to head back to Oxford.

All in all, it was a great weekend and very beginner friendly. If anyone else is thinking about having a go at some white water, then they definitely should join us on the next one!


The BCU Student Safety Seminar 2014, a.k.a. We go to North Wales, go paddling, eat bacon, and get far too excited about jenga bricks….

We set off from Oxford at 5.00am on Saturday morning, breaking free of the bubble at approximately 5.17am, after uncharacteristically minimal faff .The motorways were blissfully clear…except for one lorry who’s driver had decided that he’d gone in a straight line for long enough, and that swinging wildly across the middle lane and hard shoulder for twenty miles so that no one behind could overtake was a much better plan.

We arrived at Plas y Brenin, the outdoor sports Mecca of the UK just in time for the morning lectures to arrive. They had decided to get the boring stuff out of the way first. The first was on The Law, and our rights and responsibilities as club and committee members. This contained lots of useful information about legal minefields that can seem baffling, though arguably more useful was the tea and coffee break at the end of the lecture. The next was on transport, including lots of gory photos of people with golf ball sized eyes, etc, etc.

We could sign up for different afternoon sessions. The girls teamed up to do some work on personal paddling stuff, while the boys went off to do some bigger white water stuff. With a ratio of two people to one coach, the few hours we had on the water really made a difference. We picked up a lot of new ‘technical’ and ‘tactical’ tips, as well as ideas for coaching novices and leading river trips. On return, we each went off to sessions on Equipment, Personal Gear, Rolling, Trip Planning, etc…

We succeeded in piling four boats on top of the Berlingo without a step ladder or considerable height (again with little faff), and headed to the bar to eat. We sat sharing stories about the club with George, an Old Git who was working at the seminar. We downed our many pints (of water) and went to watch a lecture on some cool paddling trips, hearing about drunken elephants, crocodiles, gnarly white water, some lucky escapes, and lots of beer. Thomas beasted it the kayaking erg machine, with 12 seconds for a 50 m sprint.

IMG_1113Drinking the bar dry

Super tired, we headed to the mountain hut where we were staying, up a bumpy grass track. Suddenly, energy appeared as tiredness progressed to the next level (and energy drinks and alcohol appeared). We found an epic jenga set, made out of plastic bricks. After playing a few rounds of jenga, none of which lasted long because Ben decided that taking the bottom brick out every time was a good tactic, we realized that the bricks had other uses. The next few hours consisted largely of seeing how far we could flip them into the kitchen using a toasting fork / how many we could catch in a saucepan.

IMG_1115Anja and Hannah pre Jenga carnage

Sunday came around, and we packed up quickly, ate bacon sandwiches, and put on our paddling kit for the day. All was going to plan. We drove down the track, out onto the road, when, lo and behold, (standard trip) disaster/faff struck. Helen’s car (AJ) started to make some interesting metallic/scraping/ banging noises. It had probably made the noises yesterday, we just didn’t hear them with the music on so loud (Apple bottom jeans jeans), so it was probably fine. We kept driving. However, the metallic/ scraping/ banging noises continued, so we thought we should probably have a look, pull a rock/ grassy tuft out of the way. It turned out to be an absolutely flat front tyre. This was not good.

IMG_1118Not a happy tyre 🙁

Thomas, Ben, and Hannah went off to paddle, in the Berlingo, while Helen and Anja stayed to wait for the flat tyre man to come. We sat in the rain on a drybag, contemplating life, designing stash, and looking at the aweomse rainbow over the field, which made the whole situating generally more enjoyable. Spare tyre on, we headed into Bets-y-Coed to look around the outdoor shops to make the most of a paddling free day. Driving home at 50mph with the spare tyre took hours, and we tried to ignore the sight of kayakers on EVERY ROAD, EVERY RIVER, and EVERY LAYBY we passed. We also refined our eddy hopping skills as we maneuvered our way down the A5’s many (many) laybys. But it was a good team bonding experience, and AJ survived to tell the tale.

IMG_1122IMG_1135Pot of gold turned out to be new climbing gear

Despite the inevitable faff/ calamity/ sub-optimal situation, it was a good weekend, in the stunning autumn North Wales landscape, with some paddling thrown in, and we have gained, we are sure, a much more safety conscious mentality towards paddling…


Warwick B(ronze!)

Essential for any tournament

Saturday morning and the 4-man polo B-team tour Oxford in search of boats, scattered by flooding! After collection from Cowley, and a brief hunt for the ever-elusive Ross, we were off and away!

The first match saw a team learning how to play with each other, understanding each members’ strengths and weaknesses, and Ross remembering he’s a Keeper! Having drawn 1-1, we brought in the positives, learned the lessons and gained Mike, a wonderful ringer in pink shorts, to take us up to 5.


The next 2 games were a great success, with goals galore against Bangor & ULU! Our final match of the pools was against Southampton. Unlucky in our shots and Southampton lucky in theirs, this saw us 1-0 up at half time, before Southampton got away 2 to win the game.

This put us in the 3rd-4th play-offs against… SOUTHAMPTON! This time the Oxford Bs took no chances. A very convincing team performance and a cool head from Mark as he was binned gave us a 5-2 victory and Bronze medal.

Hero.Mark’s heroic sacrificial pass mid-bin gives the ball to Mike

A great tournament all-round and a demonstration of how team play really does win the day, thanks to Mark, Ross, Matt (and of course Mike!).

Matt, Tom, Ross, Mark, Mike

Tom x

Hilary Varsity Postponed

Cambridge have postponed Varsity (1st March) due to unpredictably high levels that are currently making the Cam unsafe. More information will follow when Cambridge give it to us.

Apologies to all who had planned to attend, however there are exciting White Water and Polo trips on offer in replacement, see emails and the forum for information.