It had been two years since CCAT had organised an overseas canoeing expedition. In the preceding years we had dipped our toes in a few areas in Europe, the Pyrenees 2011 and Brianćon 2012 and whilst both were moderately successful neither area had been able to offer a broad range of white water venues that suited both Kayak and Open canoe groups for developing intermediate paddlers.
We had found the perfect solution with the River Allier in the Auvergne region of France.
This region in one of rolling landscapes, ancient volcanoes, forest and steep sided gorges that effuse scenic beauty and an idyllic sense of tranquility. Traditionally one the poorer regions in France the remote villages abound the river usually at the most convenient crossing points to access the river. The larger towns are well supported with modern supermarkets. There is a good choice of campsites offering excellent facilities at pleasantly cheap prices.
The river is long and the vehicle shuttles between the various sections can be torturous on very narrow back country roads. Mercifully there is very little traffic other than a few farm tractors.
The River Allier is definitely one of the French jewels in the crown for intermediate paddlers. Fortunately for the paddlers the majority of the river is dam controlled with a daily compensation release between 10am and 6pm around 8-10 cumecs of water thus ensuring the river is navigable throughout the summer months Apr-Oct. The river is split into many sections. Each section can be long and physically demanding as will be noted from our daily diary. In total the 2 x kayak groups completed 48kms of grade 2-3+ white water.
The aim of the CCAT overseas canoeing course package is to conduct a range of British Canoe Union skills courses; BCU 3 Star Canoe, BCU 3 Star Kayak, BCU 4 Star Kayak (Leader) Training for selected Senior Cadets (16-18yrs) and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) as a progressive step on the pathway towards attaining higher-level coaching qualifications.
The objectives were to develop personal skills to the standard required to be assessed for the BCU 3 Star qualification in either Kayak or Canoe. To develop the safety and rescue skills in both the kayak and Canoe groups.
There were a broad range of CFAV and Senior Cadets, male and female, who applied for the CADETPADDLE courses which made up the following teams:
BCU 4 Star Leader (Kayak WW) Training course x 3 students
BCU 3 Star Canoe x 6 students
BCU 3 Star Kayak x 4 students
Canoe group – Prades to Langeac 15 Kms Grade 2
Kayak group – Prades to St Arcons 9Kms Grade 2
Canoe group – Alleyras coaching
Kayak group – Chapeauroux to Alleyras 18Kms Grade 2
Canoe group – Chapeauroux to Alleyras 18Kms Grade 2
Kayak group – Monistrol to Prades 10Kms Grade 3
Canoe group – Prades to St Arcons 9Kms Grade 2
Kayak group – Monistrol top site coaching
Canoe group – Lac du Bouchet open water skills coaching
Kayak group – Joncheres to Chapeauroux 10Kms Grade 3
CCAT wishes to thank the Ulysses Trust for their generous financial support toward Exercise Cadet Paddle 2014.