That photo was taken just a few weeks ago in France, but organising Canoefest 2015 has pretty much taken over my life since then. Fortunately, we’re finally about to gather to showcase and celebrate the many ways in which little boats allow us to satisfy our natural curiosity and release our spirit of adventure.
Our immediate horizons at Canoefest will mostly be shaped by a stream in woodland, or a mountain lake, or a gentle, lowland river – but we’ll be using a variety of workshops and day trips in massively different inland (mountain and forest) and tidal (estuary and tiderace) environments to connect our gentle pottering from our doorsteps with the diverse possibilities opened up when we venture beyond.
Whilst perhaps united by an emotional connection with wild places, we’ll be living proof that this means so many different things to different canoeists. Some will link even quiet-water streams and ponds with crossing watersheds in remote headwaters, or with exploring steep mountain creeks. Others may view their backyard waters as the gateway to lowland touring on our longest rivers – or even to adventure sailing on our more capricious coastlines.
Broader possibilities give us context, as they resonate from afar no matter where we are. Even on the ponds and streams we’ll be highlighting the diversity of those contexts. Elsewhere, we have pioneering workshops demonstrating just how “to canoe” can mean so many different things to so many people – perhaps paving the way for a broader appreciation in years to come.
Before long we’ll be moving on to securing the legacy. We’ll be taking what comes out of the gathering and ensuring it makes a difference. We’ll be presenting our diverse approaches and craft in ways that challenge and inspire. First, though, we need to gather – and for once (for me) in the UK.
Closer to home than usual? Yes – but echoing a passion we find infusing events as diverse as Kringelfieber and the successive Carinthian Canoe Base Tours – or even the Open Canoe Festival on the Drôme, from which we’ve just returned – and which Justine Curgenven also celebrated, in even more diverse ways, in her superb “This is Canoeing” collection.