British Rowing Tour success in Lake District

Claire Hobbs from Falcon Rowing Club was one of 100 rowers taking part in the three-day British Rowing Tour in the Lake District earlier this month

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Claire pictured on the British Rowing Tour

Over 100 rowers joined the 26th British Rowing Tour in the Lake District from 29 August to 1 September, exploring the picturesque lakes of Ullswater, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite.

A great time was had by all with participants coming from 31 clubs around the country – including Castle Dore in the South West, Maidstone Invicta in the South East, Tynemouth in the North East and local host club Lakeland in the North West, who supported the Tour.

Falcon Rowing Club member Claire Hobbs signed up for the British Rowing Tour for the first time and relates her experiences below.

It all started when I decided to stay on for a turkey butty after rowing on the Isis during a very frosty Saturday before Christmas last year. I got chatting with another returnee rower Ruth Ward, who had also had a gap of 30 years. She invited me to join the touring rowing group at the Falcon Rowing Club in Oxford.

Soon I was hooked and attended the national annual touring rowing meal at Leander Club where we were shown slides of the touring rowing trip to the Lake District planned for late August. Well, it looked so beautiful and the water so calm that I was determined to go. I was a bit concerned when there was mention that we would have to wade into the water to launch our boats. I’m an above-knee amputee, but have a 30-year-old ‘pirate leg’ that I thought would cope with that.

So, at the end of a beautiful and hot August the trip to the Lakes started. As I drove north it got colder, windier and wetter. It only then occurred to me that our base near Penrith was the wettest place in the country. We stayed at the friendly North Lakes Hotel, which luckily had a great Jacuzzi to warm up in.

I said hello to the guy waiting in front of me at reception. Another above-knee amputee, Malcolm Hingle had a great sense of humour, saying: “When I go skiing I become Polish – my name becomes ‘Oneski.” One thing we agreed on was that rowing without our artificial legs on was the only way to do it. And oddly it didn’t seem to affect our balance.

Seeing the tiny Cumbrian church and sheep by the lake, as we rowed round a headland, was magical

In a new format for the Tour, the rowers were to be spilt into three groups of between six to seven quad sculling crews, aiming to rotate rowing on each of the three lakes on different days. The group was a mix of recent learn-to-row graduates while others had years of experience under their belts. Thanks to support from Charles Stanley we also had eight pristine touring boats amongst others brought along by various clubs.

So, the first morning of the Tour started and we made our way to Derwentwater; we were very jolly in the coach, but were soon soaked through as we rigged all the boats in the driving rain. The wind was howling up Derwentwater and there were big waves topped with white horses. One intrepid crew whose cox had rowed the Atlantic went out. The rest of us retired inside to eat our sandwiches.

The returning crew had to shelter in the bay to pump lots of water and advised the rest of us not to follow suit. That was disappointing, but we had a fun meal together in the evening.

The following day was slightly warmer and we had a brisk row around Bassenthwaite Lake. Seeing the tiny Cumbrian church and sheep by the lake, as we rowed round a headland, was magical. The local sailing club generously accommodated us up after our row for yet more sandwiches.

On the final day we rowed on Ullswater and it was astonishing! Glenn from the RNLI gave a detailed safety talk beforehand and off we went in a flotilla of six boats – the Atlantic Ocean rowers had already set off, of course, going round the lake three times to our one!

After the outing, we all worked together to derig the boats and load the trailers – it was sad to say farewell to our new friends. I really enjoyed the trip and would love to try out touring rowing in other parts of the country and, indeed, the world!

Thanks to Claire Hobbs at Falcon Rowing Club in Oxford for writing the report. 

 

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