This year celebrates 250 years of Cromford Mills, the Worlds first water powered mill that was built by Sir Richard Arkwright within the Derwent Valley. As part of the celebrations, over the three day bank holiday weekend the local community group Paddle Peak took more than 250 local youngsters kayaking on the Cromford Canal at Cromford Wharf.
30 minute back to back taster sessions, ten paddlers at at time were given free of charge to young people, giving them the chance to experience kayaking in the wonderful outdoor space Derbyshire has to offer. Plus every lunchtime awe inspiring paddlesports demonstrations were performed by several world leading canoeists and kayakers to show the variety of different and exciting disciplines paddlesports has to offer.
On Saturday Team GB Canoe Slalom team members Chris Bowers and Olympian Adam Burgess, just back from Tokyo 2020 showed the crowd of fascinated onlookers the ins and outs, and ups and downs of canoe slalom including a demonstration of the wiggle test, a tricky canoe slalom training routine from the 1970’s. Neither Adam or Chris had ever seen the wiggle test before, but both quickly mastered it and laid down some good times. Checkout Paddle Peaks facebook page for the video!! Adam and Chris then gave our local youngsters their first taste of slalom, then chatted and signed posters for all the kids that attended that days paddling sessions.
On Sunday visitors were treated to a double header of paddlesport action... Firstly Viking Canoe Polo Team from Belper put on an awesome display of action and impressed everyone highly with their amazing ball and paddle skills. Viking are looking for new Derbyshire members to join their team. Checkout their website for more info: vikingcanoepolo.com
Then again, just back from Tokyo 2020, sprint kayaker Liam Heath MBE put on an amazing show by speeding past the Cromford Canal boat Birdswood in his carbon fibre racing kayak. Liam is Team GBs most medaled kayaker. He’s the fastest sprint kayaker on the planet. World, European and Olympic Champion. He wowed the crowd with an amazing demonstration of speed, certainly the fastest craft the Historic Cromford Canal has ever seen! Liam then kindly took some of our local youngsters out on the water and held a mini Olympics just for them, awarding all participants with a special Cromford Mills medal. He brought all four of his Olympic Medals to share with the young paddlers, signed autographs and showed everyone his incredible racing kayak. What a great guy and experience four everyone.
On Bank Holiday Monday Great Britain Freestyle Kayak team members including World and British champions James Bebbington, Gav Barker and Rob Crowe wowed the onlookers with an impressive display of acrobatic kayaking moves... They demonstrated a menu of moves and entertained the crowd with horizontal spins, through vertical cartwheels, front flips and onto three dimensional crazy combinations such as McNasties and Godzillas with cheese! All in the shallow and very weedy waters of Cromford Canal. Again, the guys then took local boys and girls out on the water and started to teach them the wonders of freestyle kayaking.. Truly outstanding.
Other events also took place in the mill yard and on the canal throughout the weekend including open canoe and canal boat trips, rock climbing, orienteering and more.
Event organiser and Paddle Peak founder Peter Astles commented:
“ What an amazing weekend. We filled every come and try it session back to back and gave more than 250 youngsters the chance to experience kayaking on the beautiful Cromford Canal. The kids also got the chance to see our amazing paddlesport ambassadors on the water and meet them, share their stories and even hold their Olympic medals. What a weekend! We hope to soon get some regular sessions going for the kids around the Cromford and Matlock Bath area. Keep an eye on our website and facebook pages for more details. Thanks everyone for coming along!!“
Massive thanks to all of the Paddle Peak volunteers and coaches for working so hard over the weekend. Cromford Mills for hosting the event. Friends of Cromford Canal and Derbyshire County Council Countryside Services for their support.
More thanks to the amazing athletes that gave their time to inspire our future champions, Adam Burgess, Chris Bowers, Viking Canoe Polo Team, Liam Heath, James Bebbington, Gav Barker and Rob Crowe. The shows these guys put on were unbelievable and truly inspiring.
Thanks also to Peak UK for supplying all the equipment, Pyranha Canoes for the kayaks, and Ainsworth for the paddles.
Paddle Peak is a community charity and British Canoeing club who’s goals are to: Improve access for local youngsters to our outdoor spaces. Care for our local environment and protect it’s wildlife through river clean ups. Inspiring and enabling young people to take up paddlesports, improving their mental health and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Paddle Peaks future plans include setting up a waterside club to enable local Derwent Valley Youngsters to take up paddlesports in our wonderful area with an ultimate dream of one day perhaps having our very own home grown paddlesport Olympian.. Anything is possible...