Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Trip to the Ardeche in August 2014 (Part 2)


On our fourth day we drove into the Cevenne Mountains north of Les Vans and found ourselves at the foot of the Signal de Ventalon. A stiff hike brought us to the summit where a gale was blowing. We could hardly hear ourselves think. After a stumbling off-piste descent through the heather we finally regained the trail and continued our hike along the long-distance trail called the GR7. It was hard going and I thought the young boys might falter. They didn't. At the half-way point we bumped into Steve who, as if by magic, conjured up a picnic lunch. Superb. The GR7 then merged into the GR70 trail, more famously known as the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail. We came across some ancient Sepulchres.


At the end of the days hike we came to the monument erected to the protestant Commusards. They were heavily persecuted during the religious wars. A short drive took us to the lovely farmhouse chateau of Le Cauvel where we would be staying for a couple of days with the charming Amboise, his brother and their wives.


On the following day we again did some hiking in the mountains on the GR70 and GR7. After a short drive to St. Germain-de-Calberte we soon found ourselves on a beautiful circular trail with fantastic views over the Cevennes. We turned around at a Menhir where we were also surprised to find some hikers were actually using donkeys as RL Stevenson did all those years ago.


Later in the afternoon we tried to do another hike, this time on the Corniche de Cevennes, but the weather came in and we got briefly soaked in the rain that lashed down in the swirling wind. We rushed back to Le Cauvel instead to curl up with books.

After this we left the mountains to return to the river - a long drive taking us to Balazuc where we prepared to paddle the Ardeche Defiles (Narrows). We had lunch by the river before setting off and paddled down to Pradons. It was a lovely stretch of river but the little rapids were tricky in places. Luckily we had no accidents.


Later we travelled to the small town of Vallon Pont D'Arc where we treated ourselves to ice-creams and visited an exhibition about the Chauvet Caves. The replica site will open next year in 2015. Looking forward to it.

We stayed the night in the Le Belved hotel very close to the Pont D'Arc itself and had time in the evening to make use of the swimming-pool.

Our next day was our last day on the river. It was the big one. A 32k run down the full length of the Ardeche Gorge going through the famous natural arch at the Pont D'Arc and riding a series of rapids along the way. We made an early start and got in some practise on the minor rapids as we approached the arch.


After that it was a matter of sticking together and watching out for each other through the rapids. Inevitably we had a couple of mishaps, but it was a hot day and after the initial shock it didn't take long to empty the boats and continue on our way. When we pulled up on a beach for lunch we set up our picnic in a little shade and then were surprised to see our canoes going downstream by themselves. The wind had flipped them over and rolled them down the beach to the river. Oops.


At the Black Tooth rapid we decided to portage. It was narrow and a bit too technical for the young boys. They moaned but we were soon on our way and soon had other rapids to worry about. In fact we had a major spill at the Templars Rapid where it took us some time to get ourselves together. We were on our way soon enough though to tackle the last stretch around Windy Point and the final run down to Sauze.


All in all it was a very successful paddle and we rewarded ourselves with beers and ice-creams at the pretty village of Aigueze. From here it was just a short drive back to La Bastide for our last night. We wrapped the trip off with a lovely dinner outside where we were splendidly entertained by the boys giving us a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.

The next morning we ran our guests back to the airport at Nimes - with a little scare as the motorway was closed. Fortunately we made it and we waved them off. Happy days. We then faced the long drive north ourselves ...

Monday, 22 December 2014

A Trip to the Ardeche in August 2014 (Part 1)


In late July we set off for the south of France to rendezvous with the Bertamini family at Nimes airport for an 8 Day trip to the rivers of the Gard and Ardeche with a couple of days hiking in the Cevennes thrown in for good measure. This lovely family had canoed with us last year in the Perigord and we were happy to be taking them again on another trip.

First of all though we had to get down there. It's a long drive from Calais so we decided to take a break half-way. We headed for the Haute-Saône area so that we could have a look at the Ognon river. This has potential as a future trip. Apparently you can wander down this river over 8 or 9 days to its confluence with the Saône. With that in mind we set off for Villersexel.

After an early start and an early ferry from Dover we drove across northern France in a large arc before arriving in Villersexel in the late afternoon. We quickly found a charming place to stay in the Auberge de la Terrasse which is close to the river and just opposite the canoe outfitters. The place does indeed have potential though it is hard to know really without getting in a boat! Must definitely get this organised.

The next day we continued the long drive to the south. After following the Ognon river for some miles through pretty countryside we joined the motorway south. Apart from a bottle-neck at Lyon the drive was smooth. As the afternoon got late we pulled up to the small town of Collias, where we will canoe tomorrow, in order to find somewhere for the night and somewhere not too far from the airport for our pick-up tomorrow.

After some difficulty down some narrow lanes we eventually found the Hotel le Gardon out on a lonely hill. After relaxing for a while and taking a dip in the pool we moseyed into town, a drive unfortunately and had a wander around to get our bearings for tomorrow. Along the way we discovered a rather nice cafe where we tasted some local wines and where we were charmed by the lovely host. In the evening we had dinner at the smart Le Castellas restaurant which we ducked into as a storm arrived. HIghly recommended.

So finally we get started on the trip. After eventually finding the correct airport in Nimes (information which would be handy later) we picked up our guests as they flew in from England. In no time at all we were at the famous Pont du Gard and we spent some time wandering about. It's hard to believe that the aqueduct is almost 2000 years old.


Of course the real reason we were here was to go canoeing so we drove upstream to Collias and got ourselves organised and after a picnic lunch by the river set off on our first paddle of the trip to canoe back down, and under, the Pont du Gard. It was of course a hot day and so we took out time for some splashing around on the way down.


Our first paddle over we jumped in our minibus and drove the short distance to La Bastide, a small hamlet just outside Goudargues where we will stay a couple of nights. Grace & Olivier were there to greet us and imagine our surprise when our guests were informed that they would be lodging in the castle next door. None of us could believe it. Here we are staying in a castle.


The next day we toddled into Gourdagues and got ourselves organised for a paddle on the Ceze river. A short drive took us up to Montclus, a tiny walled village, which we had time for a wander around before starting our paddle.


After some difficulty getting past the first little rapid: it was rocky & twisty, we enjoyed the meander downstream and once again found time for a swim.


In the afternoon we had a stroll around the village Roque-sur-Ceze and the waterfall called the Cascade Sautadet, a popular spot.


On our third day we drove the short distance to Les Vans and found our second hotel which apparently used to be a Nunnery. In the afternoon we paddled through the gorge of the Chassezac river which was spectacular. The river was a little bit more technical and we had some fun getting through the smallish rapids. Of course we also found time to monkey about as usual.


The end of the days paddling almost got a bit dangerous as we paddled slightly too far and ended up trying to paddle through a rock garden! Not wise. Luckily we were able to haul the boats back upstream to the beach where we were supposed to be. A beer and ice-cream settled us down.


In the evening we still had time for a dip in the pool before a lovely dinner on the terrace of the hotel. Tomorrow we are heading up into the Cevennes for a couple of days hiking. More of this to follow.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Trip to the Perigord in June 2014

We kicked off our summer of canoeing by doing a short week-ender trip down in the Perigord region of France with some guests from Hong-Kong. We squeezed the usual 7 day trip into a 4 day format to give our guests a taste of the area.

We took 2 days to drive down to Bordeaux, where we were to pick up our guests, and visited the Poitou-Charentes area on the way down to scope out the area and the river of the same name. We came off the motorway just after Poitiers and headed for Vivonne to pick up some lunch. It's a pleasant little town with a massive Super-U supermarket. I can't think now why I want to remember this, but I did.

Anyway we then pootled down to the town of Ruffec and got some information from the very friendly tourist office. We tried to find some canoe outfitters without much luck but we did eventually end up at a pretty spot for a picnic lunch before finding a swimming hole at Condac.


I thought the river Charente here looked very pretty and certainly has potential for a future trip. We then jumped back on the main road and headed south, avoiding Angouleme, before following the river again to the town of Jarnac. The river here is larger now and perhaps not what we're looking for, but the town was nice and I think the whole Cognac region has potential.

It was late in the day now so we headed south again so we could be close to Bordeaux in the morning for a pick-up. We eventually found a camp-site somewhere near St. Andre-de-Cubac. Once again the tourist office was very helpful - we only just made it before closing time - and we were directed to a campsite run by a charming guy from Germany. We set up camp next to a pond. Only later did we realise that this was not a good idea. We were kept awake all night by croaking frogs!

We drove back into town to find a restaurant and were lucky enough to discover a little place overlooking the river Dordogne. It had been a long day so we were pleased to crash out in the tents. I don't think Steve was too happy though as his inflatable mattress thing malfunctioned and he ended up in the van. On top of that and the loudest frogs in the universe the night was interrupted by a massive thunderstorm.

So the next morning we were up early to pick up our guests from the Grand Hotel in Bordeaux (oooeee) and start our trip. Here's a few photographs:





You can see more photographs here.

On the final day we returned our guests to Bordeaux and began our long drive back to Calais. We had decided to do this in two days and so made our way to Les Sables-d'Olonne which we were too tired to really appreciate. We did find a hotel finally and then had a surprisingly good dinner at a sea-food place on the sea-front.

I can't remember much about the long drive on the last day except that we stopped off in a very pretty village in Brittany which may ave been Blain. A place worth returning too, not least because the bakery and cafe were lovely but also because a canal goes through here and it might be worth exploring a barge holiday in this area.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

New web site for Green River Canoes

Green River Canoes 

Our travel company which provides Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips to the south of France, the Belgium Ardennes and the Garden of England has had a web-site makeover,

Although I was happy with the original site and the way it looked I had the feeling over the past year that some people were finding the site difficult to navigate. To find out everything for a trip you had to visit several pages. On the new site you can find out everything you need to know from one page: that is the Trip description, its scheduled dates & prices, the day-to-day itinerary and the details of the hotels we use as well as photographs and maps.

Design-wise I've gone for a simple bi-colour scheme based on the Pullman colours of Umber (Dark Brown) & Cream with a 3rd highlight colour a shade of Green. It terms of graphics I've opted for a simple silhouette style which echoes something of the Penguin paperback design ethos of the 1950s.

I was aiming for something that looked reassuring & comfortable and without the common 'in your face' promotional feel of many similar sites. I took some inspiration from the Rapha Travel site as well.

Although the site makes use of photographs from the trips - slide-shows are available for each trip - I've made extensive use of the 'posters' I made earlier in the year and these are used as menus to the trip pages from the front page.

Here is a screen shot of the opening page:

Green River Canoes - new web site

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Gin Infusions, Summer Cordials and Home-made Cocktails

Gooseberry Gin Martini


You will need:

2 Measures of Gin
1 Measure of Gooseberry infused Gin
1 Splash of Elderflower Cordial
A couple of fresh gooseberries for decoration and and ice-cube or two

Of course the trick is to have the home-made ingredients to hand.



Gooseberry Gin Recipe

If you are fortunate to have a glut of gooseberries one summer or can find some going cheap then this makes an interesting and tasty gin infusion.

You will need:

1 Litre of the cheapest gin
500 g of top & tailed and washed gooseberries, use pink ones for a lovely colour to the infusion
250 g sugar

Sterilise a preserving jar and fill with the gooseberries which you have halved or crushed. Add the sugar. You can use more or less sugar according to taste. Aim for less now and sweeten later if the infusion is too sour. Top the up the jar with as much gin as will fit in.

Leave to infuse for 6 to 8 weeks. Strain through a muslin cloth and transfer to sterilised bottles. Sweeten to taste if necessary.


Elderflower Cordial Recipe

In the early summer you can make a delicious cordial from Elderflowers.

You will need:

25 to 30 Elderflower heads freshly picked with the insects shaken off and quickly rinsed
1.5 Litre of water
Zest of 2 Lemons and 1 Orange
Juice of 2 Lemons and 1 Orange
1 kilo of sugar
50 g citric acid (optional)

Put the flowerheads in a large bowl with the zest, cover with 1.5 litres of boiled water and leave to infuse for 24 hours.

Strain the infusion through a muslin cloth and return to a pan with the sugar, the juice and the citric acid. Warm gently until the sugar is dissolved. Leave to cool and then transfer to sterilised bottles.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Green River Canoes: The Poster Collection

The Collection

All the posters are collected here in a Poster Collection magazine. I originally posted 28 Reasons to go Canoeing day-by-day through February 2014. They are all here with a few posters that didn't make the cut thrown in for good measure.

The posters were originally published on the Green River Canoes blog.

Our Posters, Prints, T-shirts, IPad and Phone cases are for sale at Redbubble and Posters and Prints are for sale at DeviantArt.

Details about Green River Canoe Trips, downloadable Brochures and Newsletter Sign-Up.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Green River Canoes: Fishing Trips

Fishing in the Belgium Ardennes
Canoeing and Fishing

Without a doubt you could easily mix a canoeing trip with a fishing trip and their is no reason why you couldn't use a canoe to fish from just as the locals in France and Belgium use the small flat-bottomed punts. You have to admire these punts because you often see them partially drowned tied up to the bank and you must wonder if they will ever be used again, but I've seen a seemingly lost boat patiently bailed until it was afloat again and then pushed out into the stream for an hour or so of fishing.


The rivers we paddle in France and Belgium do not allow any motorised boats on the river, apart from a small stretch of the Dordogne where the Gabarres run between Roque-Gageac and Beynac offering a tourist service.

Most of the fishing we see is from the bank or fly-fishers stood mid-stream. Only a few fish from boats. The fishers are friendly too and don't much mind the canoes as we go by. This must be because the river is not at all busy. My friend and I were once briefly the scourge of fishers as we paddled through Tours on the river Loire. We didn't have room to skirt them in a wide arc as we had a rapid to negotiate. We were not popular and some even chased us downstream to pass on some advice and encouragement! Normally however a friendly nod and a wave is enough to pass pleasantly.

On the Célé river the fishers are given the river to themselves before 11am and again after 6pm and it is only between these hours that you are allowed to paddle the river. It seems fair, but I wonder what they would say if you were fishing from your canoe.

In all the ten years I've been taken canoe trips down these rivers though we've only ever had one person who trolled from the back of his canoe. He enjoyed himself too although he had to rely on the patience of his partner to do his paddling for him. He didn't actually have much luck in the actual fishing department. The Rainbow Trout and the Barbels eluded him but he did manage to catch one small but handsome Perch, which he gallantly put back.

Anyway the point is if you like fishing then I'm sure we could arrange plenty of time for it on our canoeing trips. We have plenty of time in the early mornings and in the long warm evenings to fit in some bank-side fishing and of course trolling is always a possibility. If more serious fishing time was required then we would re-arrange our schedule to fit it in.

We would also organise the licenses and search out the shops that sell bait and tackle.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Green River Canoes: Special Interest Trips

Fly-Fishing on the Semois

Custom  Canoe Trips with the Focus also on ...

We have many scheduled trips on our itinerary but we can also cater for groups that want to have a trip to themselves and perhaps concentrate on a particular activity in addition to the canoeing. This page describes some ideas.



Photography is one of my personal hobbies and something that I do on every canoeing trip.
You can see my personal photography on my website and on flickr.
It would be fantastic to take a group of enthusiastic photographers on a canoeing trip and I think the combination would work well.
I’d expect the kind of people who would do this combination trip would be into Landscapes and/or Nature photography, and I’m confident that we could could manage both elements very well.
I’m often of a mind to go on a long walk before breakfast; often getting up at sunrise or even before. Over the years I’ve been doing these trips I’ve got together a whole sequence of walks which are loops from our lodgings. This can range from 1 to 3 hours in length. They almost always include fabulous views over the region we are visiting.
The same principle would apply in the evenings so that we would arrange our evening meal so that we can be out and about when the evening light is at its best. In the summer of course we are blessed with an early sunrise and a late sunset, but even towards the autumn we can still make use of the light.
This leaves the middle of the day, and this is, of course, when we will do our canoeing. Notwithstanding the fact that cameras and water don’t mix very well we will have a great many opportunities for taking macro wildlife shots and any other type of shots in and around the rivers.
I think that makes a great start for designing a Photographic/Canoe Tour, but we also have all the elements of the trip which are away from the river too; the pretty villages, the castles and churches and monasteries and gardens.
In addition I think that when we sit down and design our photographic itinerary we can mutually decide on our aims and plans. We can also bear in mind that we have a minibus with us and we can use this in the morning and evening for reaching places which are too far for hiking.

Nature Watching


Observing nature is also one of my interests and forms a large part of my interest in photography too, as I mentioned in the previous chapter.
On these canoe trips we have plenty of opportunity for observing Butterflies, Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies), Birds, and River-Life. We also, of course, have a great opportunity for observing the botany of the regions we visit.
I myself am very fond of photographing butterflies as well as dragonflies and damselflies.
I think a very useful trip could be designed to incorporate a great deal of nature-watching both whilst we are on the river and on evening walks and hikes in the mornings and evenings.
I’m very familiar with the butterfly species to be found in and around the areas we visit and of the times of year when particular species are to be observed.
Although I’m not a bird-watcher myself and don’t photograph them often (not having suitable lenses) I do observe them whilst we are on the river and am familiar with most of the common species to be found.
Botanically the areas we visit are also very interesting and I’ve come across many beautiful flowers and plants on my travels. Finding orchids for example is always a pleasure as is identifying the different trees that grow along the river and being able to recognise them in all the seasons. Quinces and Medlars, for example, can sometimes be found.



I’m not a fisherman myself so I wont pretend to know anything about it. What I do know is that I’ve seen plenty of people fishing in the rivers we visit. It is obvious that the rivers provide very good fishing indeed.
Many of the rivers are good trout streams and we have seen many fly-fishermen standing int he rivers in the early mornings.
The Semois and the Lesse in Belgium are well known trout streams as is the Cele in France. The Cele in particular is dedicated to fishing as canoeists are not allowed on the river until after 11am; before then is fishing time.
We have also observed people fishing from boats, though I should point out that these are usually punts of some sort. No powered boats are allowed on the streams we paddle, excepting the Gabarres which operate on the Dordogne between Beynac and Roque-Gageac.
On some occasions we have had guests trolling from the canoe and they have enjoyed themselves immensely though they tell me this is not the way to catch trout. A perch perhaps.
The rivers we canoe usually run clear, except after a storm, and we often get a good view of the many fish in the water. This excludes the Vezere which more often than not runs a chocolate colour. The fish we have seen, and recognised, are Rainbow Trout, Perch, and Barbel. No doubt several other species are swimming beneath us.
If we were to organise a canoe trip around fishing then Green River Canoes would ensure that the appropriate licenses are acquired and that enough time is allocated to fit the type of fishing that is needed to balance with the canoe time. We would have the minibus for example to those that fish to take us to and from the river for early morning or evening sessions.



Walking and hiking is a feature of our canoe trips already. For those that are keen walkers each place that we stay has an early morning, before breakfast, walk that we can do. It is not compulsory!
On some of the longer trips we also take a day or two off from the canoeing to explore the area by foot.
I’ve walked many of the footpaths in and around the areas where we canoe and have a range of walks wherever we go.
However if we have a group that requires a different balance of canoeing and hiking then I’m certain that we could arrange a trip to suit. We would also of course decide on the length of these hikes and the amount of time we think they need.
Both France and Belgium have a great many long-distance trails which are well way-marked. There are also a great collection of hiking maps on which these trails are clearly marked. It would certainly be possible for example to accommodate several days hiking on one of these trails with a multi-day canoeing trip.



With a little bit of work the trips to the Perigord and Lot could concentrate (when not canoeing) on the 100 years War,  Crusades, or perhaps the Middle Ages. These trips already visit several castles and chateaux in the region but a little bit of effort on the schedule could bring the history into focus.
The trip to the Belgium Ardennes could also be tweaked so that we have an opportunity to visit some of the sights associated with WW2. Although the coming years will be the anniversary of the Great War this is of course more focused on Flanders to the north of Belgium. This is not the area where we canoe. However if there is some real interest in this then with some planning we could arrange to paddle on the Somme and in the area around St. Omer in northern France.

Cave Paintings


Our trips to the Perigord and the Lot already include a good look at the cave-paintings in the region such as Lascaux, Peche Merle and Castel Merle. Sadly access to Font de Gaume which was also on our itinerary is becoming increasingly difficult as visitor numbers have been drastically reduced and advance bookings removed.
Many other caves are available to visit in the region however and with a bit organisation we could certainly tweek the itinerary to include other caves.
It may even be possible to include Font de Gaume if we are prepared to arrive early and queue on a particular day.

Wine Tasting


Would it be possible to paddle from vineyard to vineyard? I’m not sure about this as we are usually too far upstream to be in vineyard country. However when we visit the Perigord and Lot regions in France we are certainly within striking distance of vineyards.
On the 5 Day Cele trip or the 12 Day 3 River trip we have often taken a day off the river to visit the vineyards of the Cahors region which is a short 40 minute drive down the Lot valley. We usually have the time (and inclination) to visit 3 or 4 vineyards for tastings which are on or close to the Lot river itself.
The vineyards on the Dordogne are a bit further away. Bergerac and Perchamont however are reachable.
On the Ardeche trip we arrive through the Rhone vineyards between Avignon and our first lodgings on the Ceze river. It would certainly be possible to arrange some vineyards in this region, both in the valley itself and in the tributary valleys coming into it.

Beer Tasting


A Beer tasting and canoeing trip would certainly be possible in the Belgium Ardennes. We travel very close to two of the Trappist Monasteries that still make beer at Orval and Rochefort. It is possible to visit Orval so we could easily include this on our trip and make the necessary detour.
The other three Trappist Monasteries that brew beer in Belgium are further to the north in Flanders and separated from the Walloon region where we go paddling. Nevertheless Belgium is a small country and an itinerary could be arranged.
In any case if we extend our search outside of Trappist Beers (and Belgium has many hundreds of other to choose from) we could visit some small and local breweries closer to the rivers we paddle.


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Green River Canes: Expedition Trips

Canoeing in the Belgium Ardennes

Multi-Day Canoe-Camping Trips

Every year we will propose to do a long expeditionary trip at the beginning of each season. If it proves popular then we could add another trip at the end of the season too.

The idea of these trips is to have a long continuous canoe down a single river.

The intention is that we will camp on these trips and where possible we will prefer wild-camping over camp-sites. This means we will have to cater for ourselves too and do own our cooking. This will not however, preclude us taking the odd night in a B&B if we want to, or indeed frequenting restaurants, cafes and bars whenever we find them!

On our usual trips we always have a support van. To help reduce costs on these expeditions  we will have to decide whether or not we want to have a support van to chase us down the river.

Unlike our Inn-to-Inn Trips these Expedition Trips are more co-operative. Green River Canoes will ensure that the canoe equipment is booked and ready for us, will guide us on the river and will have all the necessary details and maps for camping and supplies along the route. If a support minibus is required then Green River Canoes will supply this too, along with a driver.  Green River Canoes will ensure that we are transported from the rendezvous point to the start of the canoeing and for returning everybody back to the rendezvous point from where we finish the canoeing. Green River Canoes will also provide the necessary safety equipment and water-proof tubs for storing stuff in the canoe.

The participants on the trip will be expected to provided their own camping equipment and will be required to set up themselves and help with all the necessary cooking and cleaning jobs etc. If portages are necessary then then will be expected to help with these too.

The cost for the trips will be calculated on the canoe-hire costs and the minibus rental costs (if used) plus the use of a guide. These will be the only charges required before departure. All other expenses will be calculated and shared 'on the road', such as camp-site fees, eating and drinking, shopping, fishing licenses etc and so forth.

It will be the responsibility of the guests to get themselves to the rendezvous point for the trip departure.

We at Green River Canoes will suggest a variety of itineraries for each season. Those that are interested will then be asked to reach a consensus on the following aspects of the trip.


Friday, 24 January 2014

Green River Canoes: The Lesse, the Semois and the Ourthe

Ardennes Canoeing Trips
7 Days Canoeing in the Belgium Ardennes

Come with us on a 7 night 8 day canoeing trip to the Belgium Ardennes where we will canoe on the beautiful Lesse, Semois and Ourthe rivers through the most wonderful countryside.

Our trips are fully guided and we stay in wonderful small hotels and B&Bs. We travel Inn-to-Inn on the rivers whilst our luggage is being taken from one lovely Inn to the next.

We picnic along the rivers as we go and enjoy the local cuisine and wines and beers in the evening. Belgium is of course famous for its many different varieties of beer.

We will enjoy the wildlife as we go: birds, butterflies and dragonflies and if we are lucky perhaps some deer or an otter. Not forgetting the botany either.

along the way we will also get to learn about the history of the region we pass through, from the ancients Romans to World War 2.

These are quiet rivers and we will not be flying through any rapids. Paddling lessons will be provided as we go if you are an inexperienced paddler.

You can find us here : Green River Canoes, and or read and download our brochures and sign up for our quarterly newsletter too.

You can also directly contact us.

We look forward to seeing you on the river.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Green River Canoes: Ardeche & Tarn


12 Days Canoeing in the South of France

This is a fully guided Inn-to-Inn canoe trip on several rivers in the Ardeche and Tarn regions.

On this trip we canoe on the Gardon, the Ceze, the Chassezac and the Ardeche in the Ardeche region and on the Tarn in the Tarn region of south-east France. We shall explore the Gorges and Mountains of both the Ardeche and the Cevennes which are still relatively remote, even to this day.

Have a look at the full day-to-day schedule and the places we stay.

This trip is also described in an online brochure (also downloadable).

The rivers in the Ardeche flow eastwards towards the Rhone river which itself then flows south to the Mediterranean. The Chassezac is a tributary of the Ardeche. Each of these rivers in the Ardeche flow through deep and dramatic gorges in limestone country.

The Gardon, Ceze and Chassezac are calm rivers with easy paddling through beautiful scenery. The Ardeche provides a little more excitement with Class 2 and 3 rapids. These rapids are short however and the river provides plenty of easy water between them.

When we cross over to the Tarn we canoe in a river which flows westwards towards the Atlantic. The Tarn also flows through a dramatic limestone gorge and is famously known for its beautifully clear and green waters. The first two days on this river provide easy paddling whilst the third day provides more excitement with some rapids to contend with.

In-between the canoeing days we shall hike on the parts of the long-distance trail known as the GR70 - the famous Robert Louis Stevenson Trail. The author walked this way more than 100 years ago to see for himself how the Hugenots (Protestants) survived in a largely Catholic country. The walk is renowned for the difficulty he experienced in dealing with his donkey 'Modestine'.

We shall also walk through the peculiar region called the 'Chaos of Montpelier', which has been eroded into many curious geological shapes.

Of course throughout we shall stay at remote and beautiful places and enjoy the regional cuisine and the local wines.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Green River Canoes: New Trips for 2014

Canoeing in the Belgium Ardennes
Canoeing & Trappist Beers

Come with us to the south of Belgium and enjoy canoeing on three beautiful rivers.

On this trip we spend two days on the Ourthe, then three days canoeing down the Semois river and a final day on the Lesse.

Have a look at the full day-to-day schedule and the places we stay.

This trip is also described in an online brochure (also downloadable).

As a new itinerary for the 2014 season this trip is offered with a 10% discount. Extra discounts are available for young adults under 18 and for children under 12.  All our prices and dates are here.

These trips are ideal for introducing children to canoeing and we have scheduled some of the dates to coincide with the school-holidays. Our brochure about family trips is here.

If you are a group of four or more then private trips can be organised with perhaps a tweak in the schedule and extra days if required: perhaps you would like to combine the canoeing with another interest like photography or fly-fishing. Here are some ideas.

The Ourthe, the Semois and the Lesse are all tributaries of the Meuse which flow through the Ardennes, the rural and largely wooded hill country in the south of Belgium in French speaking Wallonia.

On the Ourthe we will paddle a 21km (13m) stretch from Nisramont to Roche-en-Ardennes through the beautiful Gorge Herou, and then on the next day a further 20km down to Hotton.

We will then paddle the Semois which winds its way through a deep wooded vally in the far south of the country. We shall canoe a continuous stretch from Chiny down to Bouillon over three days. A distance of about 80km (50 miles).

Finally we will canoe a 24km (15m) stretch of the Lesse river from Houyet to Anseremme, following the river as it meanders through a deep and wooded valley to the Meuse. The valley famously follows the route of a small local railway in a valley which has no road. We will pass the the tiny National Park of Furfooz, with its Roman ruins and also the splendid Chateau Walzin.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Green River Canoes: Take the kids canoeing

Connect your children to nature

Canoeing with children

In my other guise as a guide for Green River Canoes. We have some excellent short canoeing trips in the school holidays for 2014. We canoe on rivers in the Belgium Ardennes, just a short hop across the channel and also in the Lot region of France.

Plenty of things for the kids to do apart from splashing about in the river of course. Lots of butterflies and dragonflies to observe and plenty of history with castles and caves to get involved in.

We take the stress and strain out of organising the trip and everyone has a great time.

The rivers are easy to paddle and eminently suitable for children over the age of 7. Being able to swim 25m is a must. We paddle tandem open canoes with an adult and child in each canoe. Once we assessed the abilities then kids can paddle together under supervision. We all where life-jackets when on the river.

We provide instructions on paddling for those that have never tried it and generally mess about on the river whilst we learn. Of course we also make sure everyone is aware of the dangers and run through the safety regularly.

All the different trips are on the web, with summaries, day-to-day schedules and notes on the places we stay. You can also read our brochures and download them too.

Our scheduled trips are limited to 7 people, plus our two guides. We can arrange for larger groups if required. If you are 4 or more then we can arrange a private group and schedule for you. Talk to us if you want to tweak the dates, include or exclude certain things, change the rendezvous place etc and so forth.

We really love canoeing and we would love to take you.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Green River Canoes: Family Trips

Connect with nature: Canoeing in the School Holidays

During each season Green River Canoes dedicates some of its Inn-to-Inn Guided Canoe Trips to the idea of families with youngish children to come canoeing with us to the Belgium Ardennes and to the Perigord and Lot regions in the south of France.

These trips will coincide with the school holidays, including the breaks around Easter and Whitsun, the long summer holidays and the half-term holiday in the Autumn term (usually towards the end of October).

The trips will operate on the same schedule as our other trips to the region except that we will make special efforts to ensure that the focus is on the wants of the children especially when it comes to the amount of time spent canoeing, the activities we pursue away from the river and making sure the children are fed and watered at suitable times. This is not to say that the adults will not also have a great time.

The trips we schedule in the school holidays will be those of a shorter duration: 5, 6 or 7 days. Although of course longer trips can be arranged.

We offer a discount to children under 12 years of age of 25% for the first child and 50% for subsequent children. For young adults under 18 the discount is 15% for the first and 25% for others.

The 7 Day Trip to the Belgium Ardennes also has a discount of 10% for all adults.

For the 2014 season we are offering the following trips to coincide with the school holidays:

5th-11th   April:        Seven Days in the Belgium Ardennes
13th-19th April:        Seven Days in the Belgium Ardennes
25th-30th May:         Five Days on the Célé in the south of France
23rd-29th August:    Seven Days in the Belgium Ardennes
25th-30th October:  Five Days on the Célé in the south of France

On all the trips we will endeavour to engage the children not only in learning how to canoe, but also assist them in attaining a certain level of water-craft and to become involved in the natural history surrounding us in and around the rivers.

We will also encourage the children to become engaged in the history of the region we visit in particular where we can visit castles and other historical sites. Of course we realise that this is a holiday too so we will try to avoid a too heavy-handed approach and take our lead from both the parents and the children about how we spend our time.
We will also encourage the children to learn something of the local culture where we are; this will involve the local cuisine obviously but also the observation and joining in of local events. We often come across Fêtes and Fairs and Festivals during the summer months.

We will usually canoe in tandem with one adult and one child per canoe, and if the paddlers become sufficiently proficient during the week then we may allow two children to paddle together. Closely watched, of course.

Children must be 7 years of age and be able to swim 25 metres. Life-jackets are worn by everyone when on the water.

Children older than 12 may canoe together after we have observed how competent they are.

The rivers on these trips have no white-water or rapids although the river can flow quickly in places. On our first few days canoe instruction will be given and everyday we will go over the safety drill before starting the paddle for the day.

Brochures can be browsed here and downloaded for offline reading.