Whilst many of us took the opportunity presented by lockdown to explore the footpaths of our county, it’s not often that we get to take to the water. But what better way to get off the beaten track and explore the quieter side of Sussex than to do so by river?
Lazy days at Barcombe Mills
Mention Barcombe Mills and to me, it conjures up the balmy, warm summer days of my teenage years and lazying about on the river. So the River Ouse Barcombe Mills kayak experience instantly caught my attention.
Starting, as the name suggests, at Barcombe Mills, you paddle up the River Ouse in your kayak in a small group to Isfield Weir. A tranquil and largely unspoilt piece of Sussex, you have to navigate locks along the way and put up with an abundance of wildlife and silence before you reach the babbling waters of the weir.
With stops en route to rest, recuperate and explore, there’s even time for a quick drink at the Anchor Inn on the way back so it doesn’t feel like too much hard work, just lots of fun and a chance to see Sussex from a very different angle. And as is often the case, even as a group of strangers, you start to pull together as a team, helping and encouraging each other whilst enjoying meeting new people. The whole excursion takes about 4 ½ hrs.
The beauty of this way of exploring Sussex is not just that it’s picturesque and peaceful but also that it also counts as exercise and really gets you into the heart of the great outdoors.
Catching up with Adrian (head coach and founder of The Kayak Coach) he explains that it also really is an activity that is suitable for everyone,
“When I came up with the idea behind The Kayak Coach what I wanted to do was make kayaking as accessible as possible in terms of fitness, experience, and ability. We have shorter trips if that’s what you prefer as well as easy to manage kayaks. We’ve had all sorts of people join us from couples and families to people on their own and even a gentleman who was in his 80s. You get to choose whether you want to go in a single or double kayak so you know what to expect and we all help each other along the way. You’ll learn new skills, meet new people and have fun and all you need is a healthy sense of adventure and a reasonable level of fitness. If you want to keep yourself to yourself that’s fine, but there’s always a great sense of camaraderie when out on the river”
Barcombe isn’t the only kayak experience and they also have a trip that starts at Harvey’s Brewery in Lewes, a River Cuckmere to Alfriston trip, and a River Arun and Arundel trip as well as some Kent options, all of which sound equally sublime.
Living the dream
So how is it that a mechanical engineer ends up spending his days mucking about in a kayak I wanted to know,
“I’ve always loved kayaking,” explains Adrian, ” and as a child, I wanted a career in outdoor pursuits. But that wasn’t really an option back then. I have been kayaking since my teens and when I had the chance to deliver some kayaking events to a school, I realised how enormously rewarding it was, and how much I enjoyed both kayaking and helping others to enjoy it too.”
The Kayak Coach provides the kayaks and all the support and help you need en route. You just need to bring along a wet suit or warm layers to paddle in and a packed lunch, snacks, and drinks.
So, if you’re looking for something a little unusual, a little off the beaten track but that takes in some of our most beautiful countryside. Something that is active but not too much hard work, then I can’t think of a better way to spend the lazy days of summer. You can book or find out more at: https://www.thekayakcoach.com/