A sunny Spring afternoon.
A midweek day off work.
Feeling in need of a break.
Time to head down to the local for a p…addle!
After the excitement of the late snowfall just a few days before, it was hard to believe the change in the weather. I had a few hours unexpectedly free, and it was lovely stood in my back garden feeling the sun on my face. I didn’t try too hard to resist the temptation the weather offered. A few minutes saw the paddle, pfd and dog in the boot, and the boat on the roof of the car. I decided to take the Apache out. I hadn’t been out in it for some time, and although it is really better suited to moving water, I felt in the mood for a bit of play.
My local is Underbank Reservoir, just on the edge of the Peak District National Park. It’s generally quiet, and is big enough to be worthwhile, although you can get round it in a comfortable couple of hours. The sky was blue, and the sun sparkled on the water as I unloaded right by the water’s edge. The breeze had dropped right down, so conditions were ideal for a relaxing meander up to the head of the reservoir and back.
This early in the year, the levels are usually quite high, flooding the hazel and alder thickets that line much of the banks. It makes for good fun exploring in and out of alleys between the bushes – just why I had brought the Apache with its effortless spinning and turning.
Spring isn’t as far advanced up here compared to further south – the willow buds still showing silver in the sunlight.
Towards the head of the reservoir, the grassy flats were flooded, their winter-yellow leaves standing against a reflected cobalt sky.
It was an easy matter to skim over the shallows into the river channel, but here I disturbed a young family of mallards. With the dog jumping around in the boat barking at them, I decided to give them space and turned round to traverse the marsh again.
What wind there was gently speeded my return to the slipway by the activity centre, where a small group of children were being introduced to the joys of canoeing. As they made their way across the reservoir, I hauled the boat out, derigged and set off for home.
There’s nothing quite like a few hours on the water to put a smile on your face.