White water safety and rescue

Ruth Hughes on her recent white water safety and rescue training.

There was little water in the Lakes on the November trip so the group went up to the Tees and of course I decided to portage the Dog Leg rapid. I would have liked to have assisted with a line for the others but I didn’t feel confident without having done a white water safety and rescue course.

Having had a fab time with Dave Kohn-Hollins from River Flair in Slovenia I decided I’d do the course with him in Llangollen. Being totally car-less, Sarah Spriggs and I took the train up and borrowed his boats and I borrowed a dry suit too. One of those defunct Peak contraptions with a crotch zip which was impossible to do up so Sarah had to help… and someone walked in on us in this compromising position at Mile End Mill cafe.

I enjoyed the course: we paddled Serpent’s Tail with the river so high that the normal safety spot was an eddy. I learned a great deal, especially about mechanical advantage and live baiting. Unfortunately, it being the first flood of the year, Sarah and both got very river sick.

I’ve been able to use my new skills to good advantage, on the Tees trip at Dog Leg and at Backbarrow Bridge on the Leven (portaged both these rapids!) and when I got stuck in the middle of the Greta I knew exactly what to expect from the text book rescue conducted by Kate and Don – and I’m sure the training helped me to be a calm casualty, patiently waiting in the flow. Something they don’t teach you on the course is how to dislodge a paddle from a tree by telepathy, which is a skill perhaps only Don has.

Ruth Hughes