Ellie buys the best presents. For my last birthday, she proudly presented me with a Sevylor Adventure inflatable canoe. I’d been after some sort of waterborne craft ever since reading Al Humphreys’ accounts of his pack-rafting escapades in Microadventures. As if buying me the world’s greatest gift wasn’t enough, she also planned a surprise weekend camp in the Cambridgeshire Fens to give us a chance to put it in the water and have a paddle. The canoe’s maiden voyage was on the River Lark, which seemed as good a location as any, helped by the fact that we found a nice pub from which to launch her. We paddled downstream for a couple of kilometres as we got used to the Sevylor, which handles beautifully. It’s comfortable to sit in, lightweight and easy to paddle – not the ideal craft for grade 3 rapids, but perfect for the flat water of the Fens.
Being in a canoe is truly one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors. Ray Mears says it’s his favourite way to travel, and as we paddled lazily downstream, taking time to nose our way along the little tributaries and brooks that feed the river, I could see why. We pushed our way through the reeds as duckweed swirled in the wake of our paddles, enjoying the sensation of being close to the water, borne by its current, almost silent observers of the life of the riverbank. This little canoe is going to carry us on some unforgettable adventures.