AT Camp Report – Allier 2016

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During the last week of the Easter holidays, trailers loaded, we started our long drive down to Langeac on the River Allier in the South of France. Having travelled through the night, we arrived at the campsite in glorious sunshine, which was sadly short lived as the weather was quite chilly and wet throughout the week! We set up our campsite, which would be home for the next few days, and got an early night so that we would be ready for the next day’s activities.

On the first day we headed out to a lake in the hope of calmer waters, because for many of us it was the first time in canoes, kayaks and on stand-up paddle boards. Despite the calmer waters, many members of the group felt the urge for a swim, and Luke and Ben Chilton started an on-going competition as to who could capsize the most spectacularly!

The second and third days of paddling saw most of the group master their skills in each of the crafts on moving water, negotiating some smaller rapids and making sure that we knew how to get safely out of the water. The stand-up paddle boards provided great entertainment, as we all tried to improve our paddle skills, balance and in most cases, swimming! Thankfully, the third day had brought sunshine so the melt water river did not seem so cold.

We rose early on the fourth day to embark on our 21-kilometre paddle. Lunches packed, we set off in beautiful sunshine down river, our number one target – to stay dry! Only a few of us failed: Stan was a little too eager, Nathalie was sabotaged and Luke, well, who knows what happened! The rest of us paddled hard, took in the beautiful views, successfully negotiated the rapids, and arrived at the end exhausted but happy with our achievements. We celebrated with a delicious BBQ which finished off a great day as we toasted marshmallows over the fire.

The final day came around far too quickly and so we were determined to make the most of our final paddle, particularly as it was the best weather we had had all week. However, this gave us the opportunity to have some fun, surfing rapids and not minding if we got wet. We headed back to camp, once again exhausted but exhilarated after another great day on the water.

After pizza, we packed up and said our farewells and set off on the long journey home. We all would like to say a huge thank you to Lt. Col. Balmbra and all the members of staff for another great adventure training camp.