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2013 in the Boyne Valley

  • January 2014
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Being the first FULL season since we started our new activities company, I would say that

what was most notable to me was that we got to see how the whole valley looked and

changed as the seasons did. It was also remarkable how much wildlife we encountered

along the way, I wondered was there exceptionally more this year than previous years or

was it that I was just more aware? I believe it was the latter, having kayaked this river for

the past eight years, we would regulary paddle in groups of friends, chilling out after a

hard weeks work and enjoying the banter and fresh air, essentially making our way to a

feature or weir that we could “play” on and try to advance our paddling skills (or indeed, our

swimming skills!) and then carrying on to the next one to do more of the same. At that time

I was more aware of checking my boat and the flow of water below me to see did I need to

adjust my body weight or edge more to move my kayak to where I wanted it to be. Those

trips would have been forthnightly at best and gaining my kayaking proficiency was the

order of the day.

 

Kayaks on Boyne River

 

This season, on the other hand, we were bringing individuals or groups down the river up to

three times a day, sometimes seven days a week on kayaks. Being sit-on-top kayaks, once

we give the basic paddling introduction on the bank and a few minutes on the water to

get their strokes in order, the participants nail controlling the kayak in the first 15 minutes,

so they can sit back and enjoy the view. At this stage our instructing is finished as the

participants are quite adequately “paddling their own canoe” so we can give our visitors

a history lesson as we pass some pretty impressive sites AND let them have a look at the

surrounding wildlife.

Swans in Boyne Valley

 

Like the two swans and their family of seven signets that we followed all summer.  From

hatchlings to the day Dara witnessed the swan teaching her cygnets how to fly and the

apparent clumsy first efforts of her family to the eventual take off of their first flight! (By

my own admission I envy my business partner being able to observe that!).

Or the time in the middle of Summer when two otters came swimming up river and buried their

noses in the reed roots searching for a lunchtime snack. They were much larger than I expected.

Or the shy heron that I kayak past every day and she never moves until I produce

my camera – then she’s off! The kingfisher that stops EVERYBODY in their tracks as she

skims across the surface of the water with her piercing blue colour and makes their day!

Down river, the Cormorant waits on the highest tree and then dives at speed into the water

and disappears.  At first, I thought it must have hit the river bed, only for it to rise maybe 30

meters away. Impressive.

 

 

Launching our new Medieval Tour last year was also a reason we experienced more wildlife.

As I said before, once the kayakers got a handle on their strokes, they got immersed in their

new surroundings.  The river has towering monuments standing on both sides of its banks

so we would always gave as much information as we could on the ruins, so much so that we

researched the area and started to use our rafts for our “Floating through Time” tours. We supply

the life jackets and the footwear (wellies) and a knowledgeable guide. They float downriver in one of

our spacious rafts for an interactive tour with a small bit of paddling. A unique way to see the

heritage of the Boyne Valley.

 

Rafting in the Boyne Valley

 

Last year really was an exceptional year as regards opening our eyes to what we have on

our doorstep. We have always prided ourselves on being professional in what we do and

how we do it. We intended on bringing our love of kayaking to the masses and what we

realised early on in our business venture is that we have stumbled upon is an area that is bursting

with culture and awash with nature based experiences. So whether it’s kayaking with your family,

rafting with a group of friends or cycling from a Medieval town to the seat of the High Kings of

Ireland, 2013 has shown us that we are in one very special place.

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