We enjoyed a canoeing trip a few years ago for my daughter's 9th birthday. Sadly, like many families this year, our summer holiday has been cancelled, so I have been trying to think of activities to do to fill the long summer holidays. Activities that my teenagers would relish are hard to come by these days - they have got to be appealing enough to drag them away from their screens! When I suggested the idea of a day canoeing again, much to my delight they both jumped at the chance!
Post Covid19, River Severn Canoes have been operating again since early July as it's very easy to social distance on the river! Monty, who owns the company, has actually been canoeing for 25 years, so we felt we were in very safe hands when we met him at the starting point at Severn Park in Bridgnorth.
There are 2 trips to chose from, finishing in either Hampton Loade (around a 2 hour paddle) or Arley (around 4 hours with a picnic stop along the way).
Everything is supplied for you. Monty kitted us out with appropriately sized life jackets and paddles (which we all sprayed with sanitiser first) and then he explained to use the simple safety precautions and the route we would take.
To distribute the weight, my daughter (14) and husband went in a boat together, and I buddied up with my 6 foot tall son (17).
The husband and daughter combo shot off like a duck to water, without a backward glance, leaving my son and me to negotiate the overhanging willows along the bank (which became all too familiar to us as the trip continued!). I sat at the front (big mistake - I couldn't see how much actual paddling my son was doing). But although our technique left a lot to be desired, we soon relaxed and took in our surroundings.
Monty had promised us wildlife along the journey and he was right. We spotted wagtails, coots, ducklings, swans and their goslings and even a kingfisher! (I am convinced I spotted an otter too, although son claims it was a rat....)
At one point we stopped paddling and just listened. No cars; no noise; just birdsong and the sound of ripples caused by the fish below.
We had chosen the trip to Arley, but instead of taking a picnic we pre-booked lunch at the River and Rail Inn at Hampton Loade. They are used to welcoming canoeists as the pub is at a handy half way point. The owner recommended their Ploughman's Lunch sharing platters and the thought of those kept us motivated with every stroke of the paddle.
At the half way point, Monty waved us down from the river bank, and pulled our canoes in, where he then guarded them as we set off for the pub. The lunch was everything we hoped it would be and more (my son is still talking about that scotch egg). Other parties chose to take along a picnic, and they stopped off a little further along the river to enjoy their lunch overlooking the river.
With renewed energy, we continued our journey towards Arley. Again, the husband and daughter combo ploughed ahead (the false nails were no hindrance to my daughter's paddling ability), laughing at our zig zag style...We ordered them to get the ice creams in when they reached Arley.
Anyone can have a go at this activity. It all felt very safe and you didn't need any prior experience of canoeing. For our family, it was the perfect escape after a long and arduous school term. Being among nature, and away from the trials and tribulations of daily life, is always good for the soul. The day trip gave my husband and I the chance to reconnect with the children - they can't storm off from you when they are sharing a boat!
We would highly recommend this as a family day out, for all ages.
When the Severn Valley Railway is operating, you can catch the train back from Arley or Hampton Loade, to Bridgnorth. Alternatively, leave a second car at the final destination.
You can take a bag with you for your possessions (we took a dry sack) - or the company can provide a barrel to put your bags in if you don't want them to get wet. Ours didn't get wet at all.
Wear loose clothing or shorts, as you'll be more comfortable when paddling.
You may get blisters when paddling, so take some plasters with you just in case.
To find out more, click here.
Editor of Raring2go! Kidderminster & Stourbridge since 2008. Local font of knowledge. Mother of two and wife of one.