As we drove out of Pulborough and along the A283 we could not help but notice that the roadside meadows were no more, water stretching as far as the eye could see. We parked up yards from the White Hart Inn and discovered that the get in had vanished, hidden under a blanket of water.
Rain had been forecast all week but in the event it was a lovely warm and sunny day. Our sixteen enthusiastic members, many of them on their first CAP trip gathered at the water's edge. Chris led a few warm up exercises and a name introduction game that she'd learnt back in the forests of Borneo. Apparently, the Gorilla’s learnt each other’s names by throwing Kayaking helmets at each other ???
We initially set off up stream towards the navigable end of the river and as expected, as the river narrowed so the current became quite strong. Eventually we turned around and headed back towards the historic Stopham Bridge. It had been my intention, for a bit if fun, to do a sort of waterborne conga through all of it's ancient arches but in the event some of the arches were only between a
few inches and a couple of feet above the surface. Fear not however, many of the CAP team managed to limbo their way under the arches.
A little further on, after slaloming through the trees, we came across the advanced party who were sitting in their Kayaks surrounding a couple of public footpath signs. Ignore the signs, whatever way one looked was just a seemingly endless lake of water. Fun however, paddling through the posh house's back garden, circumnavigating the kids climbing trees and park bench which were just peering out of the water.
The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the wide selection of tall trees, willow trees and indeed just tree trees, reflected in the mirror like waters, hauntingly beautiful indeed. We stopped at the footbridge, that started and finished in the middle of this pop up lake and Chris, Keith, Mark and Rich, decided to jump into the depths from the 15ft high parapet!
Some bright spark, no names mentioned, then tried to mount a game of Kayak polo but with the ball sinking without trace the first time it hit the water !
On to the Weir at the confluence of The River Rother, as we beat our way around the trees the sight of the raging weir towering six feet above the water stood magnificently in front of us. Well actually, no it didn’t, there was no weir, it had vanished under the Sussex flood waters! As we ate our lunches on the banks of the river we chatted about cheery things such as Weill's Disease, Leptospirosis and Mad CAP disease.
After lunch, we decided to make the most of the small waves created by the Titanic Weir, firstly we had a couple of races over it and then Keith, Gary and Chris stood on the weir and helped newcomers to experience their very first taste of surfing, ferry gliding and synchronised swimming with their Kayaks.
On the way back towards the pub, a couple of the paddlers were disappointed that they hadn’t enjoyed a full descent of the towering six foot weir and therefore decided to make up for it by seal launching off the parapet of the 15ft high footbridge. A deep breath, heart pumping, stomach churning Gary and Mark proceeded to launch from the heavens into the mirror like waters below, stupid or impressive, not sure, but didn’t they do well. That’s about it, we paddled back across the beautiful flooded meadows and headed for the pub.
We were very pleased to welcome Ali, Reiko, Stuart, Chris V and Chris M on their first CAP outing and also Rich who was brave / mad enough to have returned for his second CAP trip. We finished off with delicious home made birthday cakes, which Chris B had made for Keith, Happy Birthday Keith, which was followed by a pint and a good old chat in the Historic riverside Inn.