At the end of the school summer holidays every year we have our annual staff outing – our version of a Christmas party for a business that isn’t fully staffed at Christmas. In the past we’ve done things like heading to Plymouth for a coaching session off the Olympic height diving board there, as well as two previous attempts at floating down the River Camel to Rock on inflatables, in fancy dress as our favourite sea creatures. This year, on the last Saturday of the holidays before some of our seasonal staff have to head off back to university, we undertook another epic river run – and this year, we made it all the way to Rock! In years past unfavourable winds and tides, punctures, and the problems that come with trying to paddle whist dressed as a crab, jellyfish or sea cucumber have combined to cause us to call the river run a day upon reaching Wadebridge, whereupon we have retired to a pub as a damp assembly of marine life. This year the wind was at our back and Liam had the bright idea of us all taking golf umbrellas to use as sails, which worked incredibly well. We all purchased the same model of inflatable dinghy (no fancy pack rafts here!) so that nobody would be left behind on an unsuitable craft, and duct tapped the bottoms for reinforcement. Fancy dress was, reluctantly, cancelled so that we’d have the best chance of going the full distance.
We put in at Groggly Halt, at Polbrock on the Camel Trail (between Wadebridge and Bodmin), where the river becomes sensibly navigable for small inflatable dinghys. Any further up river and we’d have risked punctures from shallow sections, or had sections that we’d have to get out and walk around. We paddled to Wadebridge, whereupon we met the dropping tide and “hoisted sail” to help carry us down stream towards Rock. Three and a half hours later, having covered a distance of almost 12km, we all successfully beached at Rock, on the beach next to the sailing school.
L-R: Hugo, Ollie, Hannah, Liam, Ben, Jon, Pete and Toby celebrating a successful river run!
To any of you who were disappointed at not being able to join us for any sessions or rent kit on that afternoon, please accept our apologies. The team have worked so hard this summer and it’s important to us that before some trickle off in September we all get together as a full team and celebrate another great season. The team that plays together stays together, and Cornish Rock Tors wouldn’t be what it is without these wonderful individuals and their hard work and dedication.
Note: Inflatable dinghies are not suitable craft for open water; we undertook this thoroughly planned expedition with safety precautions in place and back-up plans should we have encountered any difficulties along the way. Please don’t attempt to replicate this trip.