Noor waayy are you going to Norway?

‘Noor waayy are you going to Norway?’ My friend Sam exclaimed when I told him a week before my trip last August. Sam works in Des Mes (my local kayaking shop) and I had popped in to buy some elbow pads. Whilst Sam’s excitement was probably more due to his creation of such a well worded question, it matched my excitement for my upcoming trip. My purchase of elbow pads however was in response to the extreme nervousness I was also beginning to feel.

A woman standing in a kayaking shop. She is wearing elbow pads and is standing in a warrior pose.
Me in my snazzy new elbow pads. Photo: Joe/Sam (Des Mes minions)

Since I had started kayaking, I had been aware of the reputation that kayaking in Norway seemed to have. From the way people spoke, Norway was for the kayaking ‘big deals’ only and the rivers consisted of grade 5 and nothing else. However, after speaking to a few well respected friends in the kayaking community, I was convinced that Norway had something for everyone and decided to go anyway! As my usual kayaking buddies could not make an August trip, I booked onto a course with Paddle365. If you have never met Jamie from Paddle365 – he is probably one of the nicest human beings you will ever come across. And Beth, who was co-coaching with him that Summer, is the definition of a female role model. Both are incredible kayakers and brilliant coaches.

A man and a woman in matching kayaks on flat water in Norway. It is very sunny and they are smiling.
Jamie and Beth on our first day of the trip.

After a 4am start and learning how to negotiate a kayak through an airport, I was in Norway! And in glorious sunshine! The other lady who had booked onto the course was an awesome woman from Swansea called Tavi and together we picked up the hire car and headed towards the Sjoa region. A few hours later we arrived in a beautiful cabin in the mountains and discussed the coming week over dinner.

The first day on the water I was incredibly nervous. It was supposed to be a warm up day on an easy section of the Sjoa. The river was beautiful, the sun was shining and the difficulty of the white water was well within my abilities. At the start of the day I felt very uncomfortable and struggled to make easy moves, such as surfing a small wave. Having not had much coaching before, it felt very strange to my usual peer paddling days. I was worried that I was paddling badly and Jamie/Beth would question why I had ever thought I was capable of paddling in Norway. Luckily these thoughts only existed for an hour or so before I made myself relax and consequently started to enjoy it a lot more! In the afternoon, we went to look at Ridderspranget – a very impressive and utterly terrifying section. I would love to pretend we went there to scout it but I added a picture below and you will see that was clearly not true!

An impressive waterfall. At the bottom, two people stand facing it. They are small in comparison.
Jamie and Beth enjoying the views!

The rest of the week just got better and better. We spent another 3 days paddling different sections of the Sjoa and then the last 2 days on the Bøvra. The sections gradually got harder and as our skill set increased, our energy levels began to drop. Beth noticed a trend in my paddling by about day 4 and when she pointed it out, it was impossible not to agree! All I needed was to tell Beth I was tired or nervous first and then have a roll and I was good to go for the day. She was completely correct. Every day, it was as if I had to get over a ‘hump’. This was usually achieved by having a roll early on during a fairly easy rapid and then being completely relaxed and having a great day. Whilst I rolled every day (sometimes more than once) I am proud to say I had no swims all week!

A girl in a green kayak paddling down a river. She is about to hit a wave train.
Paddling on a section of the Sjoa. Photo: Jamie Greenhalgh

The last two days on the Bøvra were particularly awesome. Jamie sadly had to leave 2 days early and so it was just us girls left. Tavi and I spent a day in Beth’s boof clinic, time very well spent! Below is a video of one of my better attempts. If you want to see my first (more plug focused) run, you can find it on my Instagram page! The final day was just wonderful as we put all of our skills into practice. I felt I did well as we tackled bigger rapids and by the end of the day, I could not stop smiling.

Video: Tavi Murray

I had such a wonderful week in Norway and could not recommend it enough! There are so many class rivers there and a river really doesn’t have to be scary to be fun. I was so lucky to have two superb coaches and also have such a like minded lady as Tavi to be the other person on the course with me. I am so glad that I had the confidence to go out and I genuinely feel it has made a big improvement in my paddling.

Three females kayakers stand below a drop. They are knee deep in the water and smiling.
Beth, myself and Tavi

I am looking forward to visiting Norway again and in the meantime, please do enjoy the video below. Whilst I had a few ‘unplanned’ river moments, this was one I had the Go-pro turned on for.

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