Round-Norfolk rower goes with the flow
Swollen rivers are proving a blessing in disguise for round Norfolk fundraising rower Robert Conway. The optometrist is in the middle of a 300-mile paddle-power journey around the county's water boundary to raise money for Vision Aid Overseas - and to celebrate his 50th birthday.
Swollen rivers are proving a blessing in disguise for round Norfolk fundraising rower Robert Conway.
The optometrist is in the middle of a 300-mile paddle-power journey around the county's water boundary to raise money for Vision Aid Overseas - and to celebrate his 50th birthday.
He is optimistic that with south Norfolk's rivers flowing deeper and faster due to heavy rain he will be well ahead of schedule by the end of today (Tuesday September 9).
“The forces worked against me for the first couple of days as I had to battle against the flow along the River Waveney. But it should all work in my favour later today when I reach Redgrave Fen and switch to the Little Ouse which flows the other way,” said the father of five, as he prepared to push off from the riverbank at Brockdish.
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Co-owner of Dipple and Conway, the Norwich, Swaffham and Stowmarket-based opticians, Robert expected the greater volume of water at Redgrave Fen would mean more time paddling his specially-built shallow water coracle than pulling it.
“It also means I can spend more time in the boat in shallow sections of river where I had anticipated I would either have to drag or carry my boat and I am expecting to be several hours ahead of schedule by the end of today,” he said.
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“The weed and reed growth has been particularly prolific this year which has left the clear water channels a bit narrower than I expected. It's been a bit of an impediment, and at times I have had to use my paddle as a machete.
“But it hasn't been too much of a problem and there has always been some kind of channel I could squeeze through,” said Robert, who has spent three years planning his epic nine-day adventure.
Robert, who believes he is the first person to undertake the round-Norfolk marathon, is getting sponsorship for his unusual journey from friends, family, clients and Norfolk businesses to raise money for Vision Aid Overseas. The eye-care charity provides much-needed eye camps in Third World countries in Africa and also in India and South America.
To cope with the obstacles of marshes, creeks, fast and slow running rivers and sea passages, Robert has collected four boats - a sculling boat, a kayak, a seagoing sculling boat and a Welsh coracle which has been hand-built for him by the. .
Wife Jo is providing the logistical support, making sure the correct boat is in the correct place at the correct time.
Robert, a former national championships competitor, has set up a link from the Dipple and Conway website which will enable people inspired by his project to sponsor him for Vision Aid Overseas.
t You can sponsor Robert on-line at www.justgiving.com/robertconway or by cheque made payable to Vision Aid Overseas and sent or dropped in to Dipple and Conway 19 Castle Street, Norwich, Tel 01603 626 750. Dipple and Conway, 63 Market Place, Swaffham, Tel 01760 724 777. Dipple and Conway 46 Ipswich Street, Stowmarket Tel 01449 612 436, or by cash at any of the Dipple and Conway practices and shops in Norfolk.
t Tuesday 9 September 2008
Blo' Norton to Brandon
Kayak - Paddling
t Wednesday 10 September 2008
Brandon down Little Ouse then joining the Great Ouse to King's Lynn
Via Brandon, Downham Market
Sculling Boat - Rowing
Little Ouse to Great Ouse
t Thursday 11 September 2008
King's Lynn to Wells
Past Heacham, Hunstanton, Brancaster, The Burnhams
Coastal Sculling Boat by sea
A wider and more stable boat for rough water of the
Wash out into the North Sea round to Wells
t Friday 12 September 2008
Wells paddling to Sea Palling
Past Blakeney, Cley Sheringham, Runtons, Cromer, Overstrand, Mundesley, Trimmingham, Bacton, Walcott, Happisburgh, to Sea Palling
Coastal Sculling Boat
t Saturday 13 September 2008
Sea Palling to Oulton Broad, Lowestoft
Via Winterton, Caister-on-Sea, Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Hopton, Lowestoft
Coastal Sculling Boat
t Sunday 14 September 2008
Oulton Broad back to Norwich
Sculling Boat - fine narrow longer boat