CANI and Erne Paddlers Turkey and Pudding Paddle
After an overindulgent festive season, the aptly named ‘Turkey and Pudding Paddle’ organised by CANI and hosted by Erne Paddlers was a welcome opportunity to not only ease the guilt of eating one too many mince pies but also a chance to catch up with friends out on the water again.
Meeting at the Lakeland Forum by the edge of Lough Erne, we put on our safety gear, packed our picnics and swiftly set off on our paddle to Devenish Island as a convoy of canoes and rafts. We managed to stay together as a group by stopping at various landmarks along the way, our first being Enniskillen Castle. As we paddled by the castle turrets, our strength was tested by the swirling currents under the bridge. By the time we had powered our way through the choppy water, we had burned off a good-sized portion of Christmas pudding!
Once we had all successfully made it under the bridge (a good few pounds lighter) it was smooth paddling passed the Round-O and Portora Boat Club until we reached the lock gates. This was (debatably) one of the most exciting parts of the paddle. Like an Indiana Jones-esque challenge, we had to fit all the canoes and rafts in the chamber of the lock before the first gate could close allowing the water levels to settle to open the second gate. When the second gate slowly opened we were able to paddle on through and continue onwards on our quest to Devenish Island.
It was a cold but dry morning, with a little wind which made steering on the open water tricky but manageable. When we finally reached Devenish Island we were all more than ready for our turkey sandwiches and a hot cup of tea which definitely helped return the feeling to our numb fingers. After eating our fill (a slice of Christmas cake finishing the picnic off nicely) we had a little wander around the island, a highlight being the climb to the top of the monastery and taking in the picturesque views of the surrounding island landscape.
Deciding not to hang around too long and get cold, we began our journey back towards Enniskillen. On the way back we took an alternative route to avoid the powerful undercurrents of the bridge. Instead we paddled around the island of Enniskillen passed the police station. This involved its own challenging obstacles from dodging two erratic water fountains to slaloming through the supports of the bridge by the Clinton Centre. It required great skill but everyone made their way through without getting drenched, a triumph in itself! The final leg of the journey was a nice, easy paddle down past the Forum and back to the jetty where we launched from.
Overall we had an great day of paddling along with friends whilst enjoying the beautiful views of Lough Erne- working off the Christmas dinner was an added bonus!
Report by Jessica Campbell
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