The end of the summer season saw me back in Scotland with staff from one of the local centres that I work with. It was a mix of staff training, relaxation and a great chance to refresh my love of touring. It was also a great reminder of why I love coaching and helping others enjoy this fantastic sport of ours.
We were on the Spey enjoying the classic three day descent from Loch Insh to Spey Bay in open canoes. The weather was still mild, the autumn colours were at their best, the anglers had packed their rods and the wildlife was abundant. There really is something magical about being part of a small group journeying quietly on the water. We saw deer wading across the river, osprey gliding above, herons standing on the banks and sitting in the trees, dippers dipping, and had salmon and trout leaping all around us.
Not all of our group were experienced canoeists and it was also a joy to see how their skills in the craft developed during the trip. From gentle breakouts to heavy setting to avoid the frequent fallen trees there was plenty to allow everyone to practice and develop their technique.
It’s so easy to see coaching skills development as an end in itself, but those days on the Spey were also an opportunity to refresh some of the reasons why we learn to paddle canoes and kayaks in the first place.