Start Location: Jackfield
End Location: Hampton Loade
Distance travelled: 23.45km
Exercise Duration: 6hr:43mins
GPS Track: //connect.garmin.com/modern/profile/RossSwims
It was so nice waking up at 5:30am and the first thing you see is the River Severn about 3m away. We had slept in Tom and Emma’s front garden, which was on the riverbank. Their hospitality had been ridiculously good. Tom and Emma cooked us a full English breakfast for 6:30am. It went down a treat. We all wolfed it down.
We all did our usual stuff and focused on packing our own bags for the proceeding seven hours of river activities. We were all ready, and Emma, Tom and there fantastic son Robin, were there to wave us off. Robin, there adorable kid, had great fun playing with ‘Paddy’ the Irish Leprechaun, who is the mascot for the trip. He just couldn’t stop smiling at the mini teddy.
We took off the fins, which are located under the SUP’s, as Patch and Charlie were attempting to tackle the infamous Jackfield rapids, which are the largest rapids on the River Severn. The rapids were only about 100m from Tom and Emma’s house. I jumped in, and then climbed out just before the start of the rapids to film Charlie and Patch going down the rapids. Patch, who I have renamed “The River Man”, comes into his own on rivers and fast flowing water. He simply loves rivers, and knows everything about them. His enthusiasm when on the rivers is admirable to say the least.
“The River Man” gave me the green light and I started the filming. I was honestly nervous for him. It just looked so treacherous. He had been talking about what route he was going to take yesterday evening, and visited the rapids twice to investigate. He looked like he was doing fine, then he smashed into the white water section, submerging the bags on the front of the SUP. My heart briefly jumped out of my chest. He had volunteered to go down first, with no one able to help him if something went wrong. He mastered the rapids, with some fantastic control of the SUP. The first thing he said to me afterwards was “I want to do that again”.
Charlie was next. She had been on a SUP for the first time six days ago. Her courage and determination to carry out this was great to see. Patch stayed on the riverbank, just in case anything went wrong. She flew down the rapids, taking a very uneventful and elegant route. This was going to be Charlie’s last day on the adventure, and she was off to a flying start to her last day with us. She also said “I want to do that again”. She is incredibly adventurous and seems fearless.
After the adrenaline rush these guys had, the thought of watching me swimming for seven hours at about 3.5km/hr must have been painful. To be fair to Charlie and Patch, they were very content with just taking in the breath-taking views and abundance of nature.
We knew today was going to be a long day; we had planned on reaching a campsite in Hampton Loade, which was about 23km away. The flow was brilliant for the first couple of hours. We were moving so fast, and done about 5km in one hour. The River Severn showcased another majestic display of beauty and tranquillity. We were all just in awe at how magic this river is.
We came to Bridgenorth at the 14km mark. It was a beautiful looking town; full of old buildings and greenery. As we were gong under the bridge, the flow of the water was ripping towards the bridge piers. I walked about 10m before the bridge pier and then Patch came back to make sure that I could get past safely. The flow of the water going under the bridge was eye opening, and made you feel so vulnerable when on foot.
We pushed on knowing that we had a lot more mileage to still cover. I was starting to get quite cold at this stage. This is always a quite worrying time for me. The only way I could warm up is by swimming faster and drinking tea, and I was doing both.
We had about 22.5km on the GPS and still no sign of Caitriona, who was waiting for us at the campsite. I was getting a bit worried as I knew my body was running out of diesel. I stocked up on the jelly babies and powered on, just hoping that Caitriona would be in sight sooner rather than later.
I flew past Caitriona without knowing, and Patch and Charlie called shouted “we are here”. What a relief! It had been our biggest mileage day at 23.5km. We had made phenomenal progress. We went in to the campsite and Caitriona had our lunch ready. It doesn’t get better than that.
We all went into the pub for a chat as Charlie was leaving us at 5pm. We said our goodbyes to Charlie in the pub awhile later. She was an incredible asset to have on this adventure, and she will be greatly missed. Thanks Charlie for everything.
Tomorrow will involve travelling from Hampton Loade to Stourport-On-Severn.
We finally surpassed the 200km mark and have currently travelled 203km to date.
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