I’ve always been a white water kayaker, sea kayaking never really appealed to me that much until last summer. Then the bug bit. Although there’s certainly a journey element to white water kayaking, it’s more about getting whatever feature you’re on at the time right, and the adrenaline it gives. However with sea kayaking, it’s all of those small parts put together that make the journey so special. That’s what did it for me, when I finally discovered the pleasure and satisfaction in the journey. It’s been written and said a million and ones times in a variety of different ways by various lyrical florists, but sometimes it needs to be said simply, and at the risk of pulling the biggest cliché in adventure media, it really is about the journey and not the destination.
With the abundance of flat water (even though there is only one true lake), sooner or later it was inevitable that I’d end up in a sea kayak getting some lake touring done in the Lake District. Being one of the most beautiful places in the UK, it makes sense to get out and about to get to see all it’s natural beauty from a view point many haven’t and won’t get to, whether it’s in the mountains, on the crags or on the water. Doing it at night though….well you don’t quite get to see the place quite as well, but I’ve lived here 3 years now, I’ve seen it quite a lot and it seemed like it’d be more of a challenge at night.
Myself and two friends from uni (Luke and Laura), headed down to Ullswater layered up with thermals and armed with head torches, glow sticks and our paddling gear. After getting kitted up, we climbed in to our kayaks and launched in to the lake, breaking it’s obsidian like surface in a landscape bathed in moonlight. On such a still night, each of our paddle strokes was silent as our kayaks carved through the smooth surface with just the slightest rushing noise as the water ran along the sides of our boats. We’d launched around about the middle of the lake and were paddling down towards Pooley Bridge, some 3 and a half miles of paddling with water for a hundred or so meters either side of us and dwarfed by the dark outlines of the surrounding hills against a clear sky. Even with the glowing lights of the various properties dotted along the lakeside, the middle was a profoundly lonely yet peaceful place to be, but a place where the company of friends is very much appreciated as opposed to being there alone.
Taking a kayak out at night really isn’t a great way to see any of the sights of the Lake District, but it really is a different way to experience them and one well worth doing, especially on such a calm night.