The last big event of the year was once again up in Hexham, although I was rather surprised to go out of Yorkshire on the way. I just had in my head it was in Yorkshire - but thank you Andy and the few others that pointed out at the weekend that it wasn't!
The Tyne tour is in Northumberland and is based in the lovely town of Hexham, which gets over run with paddlers travelling from far and wide, bringing their families along for a chilly weekend. A large part of the tour is the paddling clubs that bring all of the beginners and help them down a very cold whitewater river - most for the first time, the University clubs definitely use the weekend to it's maximum potential.
From Alpkit's point of view we always make the journey up the A1 with a van full of seconds and end of line stock, especially down jackets and bargain clothing. Just to make sure no one is getting too cold and not enjoying their weekend away. We enjoy meeting all of the new paddlers and having a chat about planned adventures and past triumphs.
Turning up late on Friday we set our tent up, made the van cosy and went for a beer with the guys from Desperate Measures and North East Kayaks, Barry and Mark had a big heater on and everyone was congregating around it, telling tall tales of adventures since the last Tyne tour and finding out that some people have been taking part longer than they realised.
Saturday morning is an early start, very chilly, but beautiful views across the Tyne and the frosty ground definitely wake you up. There's a real buzz around the site with everyone getting demo boats and buying those last bits before heading out onto the water. Shuttle bunnies and parents can then browse the shops with a warm cuppa and take part in the GO Canoeing challenge. As it gets dark the films and talks began and more and more paddlers appeared wanting a new Down Jacket to keep them toasty.
A mass group of people then wander into Hexham for the annual fireworks, Claire O'Hara and Scout joined us in watching another spectacular firework display before enjoying a drink in town. After some coaxing we decided to visit the Ceilidh and enjoyed a dance and a beer before going for dinner. Lot's of fun ensued and waking up Sunday morning with a frosty nose was made easier with a bacon buttys and a cup of coffee to get us going.
We are already planning for next year - we are hoping to get some more paddling in next time round......
Jay and Jim