Every month, a small band of bushcrafters from the Bushcraft UK Forum meet up in a Kent pub to chat, and plan bushcrafty type things in the Kent area. The pub we meet in is next to a river, and a couple of us thought it might be interesting if rather than heading home after closing, we went for a paddle…
So after 3 pints of Adnams Broadside, we bundled out the pub and into the car park. Despite being decidedly tipsy, it took us only a few minutes to get the Kayaks off the car, load them up with out gear, and slip into the water.
We took the first tentative paddle strokes down river. A couple of drunks heckled us from the Bridge as we paddled under it.
“It’s cold, what happens if you fall in?”
“We get wet”
This rather obvious answer seemed to confuse them so much they didn’t reply and we floated off into the darkness.
We couldn’t have chosen a better night for it. The merest of breezes, and a cloudless sky allowed us to pootle down stream admiring the constellations, and the starlit countryside.
Most of the wildlife was tucked up safely in it’s bed, but as we turned a corner into a large meander, we disturbed a mammal near the bank. The characteristic tail slap on the surface told us all we needed to know. Beaver.
Ninety minutes after we entered the water we beached the kayaks, and climbed out, without falling in this time. Despite being just miles from a city, and in East Kent, we were greeted by an area of piece and tranquillity.
The lack of forecast rain, as well as the absent sky duvet made the use of a tarp redundant, and I rolled out the bivvi bag in the shelter of a Birch tree. I crawled into my bivvi bag and lay there watching the stars. Somewhere off in the distance a Bittern boomed. Perfect.
I woke the next morning having slept beautifully. Rested, and in lovely surroundings. I sat on my bed and just drank in the area. The air was full of bird song, with only the occasional toot of a train in the far distance to give any hint that we were anywhere near civilisation.
When I’d rolled out my bivvi bag in the dark the previous night, I’d done it by starlight alone, so it was with surprise that I found next to my bed a tiny Oak seedling. More by luck than judgement, I hadn’t crushed it.
Lyn had been kind enough to lend me a Kayak for the trip, so it seemed only polite that I made breakfast.
In my move towards lighter and lighter gear, I’ve been using meths based cooking equipment for the last few years, and my MSR Whisperlite has sat at home in the kit box. With a Kayak to take the weight tho, I had decided to bring it with me on this trip. As I fried the bacon for breakfast, I remembered how much of a joy it was to use this stove. Sure it might be heavy, but it’s a great little stove.
Breakfast over, we spent half hour exploring our surroundings more, despairing at some of the litter and fire scars that others had left in the area. We filled a carrier bag with litter in an effort to make things slightly better.
Alas all good things must end and it wasn’t long before we reloaded the kayaks and slipped back into the water. The river had a different character in daylight to what it had by starlight, but still offered a very pleasant hours paddle up stream back to the pub, to pick up the car and return home.