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I recently had an experience which made me re-evaluate the important things in life, and as a result I found myself handing in my notice at work in favour of going kayaking around the world. My last day happened to be the day before the Valsesia River Festival – what better way to celebrate the start of my jetsetter lifestyle than a quick trip to Italy?!?

After an early start to make our 6.45am flight we arrived in Valsesia Thursday afternoon to find lower than ideal water levels. Determined to make the most of it we had some lunch, sorted out some boat faff and headed to the Lower Sermenza. I’ve only been to Italy once before, 3 years ago, but the beautifully clear water and incredible scenery fully lived up to my memory. I spent the whole run grinning from ear to ear.

We got to run the main low water classics in the 4 days we spent there, but the highlight day for me was the race day of the festival. In the morning we headed off to the Alpine Sprint for the team race. Not bothered about my performance in this race and more focussing on it being a new section for one of my friends, we entered “Team Cripple” – with an injured shoulder, back, elbow and wrist between the 3 of us. We had a lovely run down, making eddys, rock spins and generally having a good time. Possibly not the point but it was fun!

The low water levels meant that the individual race was held on the last rapid of the Alpine Sprint, below the team race finish line. A quick scout did not make a clean line obvious so I decided my general tactic would be to hit as few rocks as possible! I still hit a few and had a to make some correctional strokes in the crux part of the rapid but in general I was happy with my race – it felt mostly smooth and I was happy to come 3rd in the very hotly contested top-3 (only 2.5s between us).

Selfie on the Sermenza megatrain! Photo by Jeannine Bradley

Selfie on the Sermenza. Photo by Jeannine Bradley


We had been given the option to have a top-3 ladies final on Mollia – a challenging rapid which I had previously always walked around. After some careful scouting and watching other people’s lines, I was feeling nervous but slightly excited to have a go. However, after having lunch in the glorious sunshine, we decided that we would rather just go kayaking! This turned out to be the best decision of the day because we managed to tag on to a 21-person megatrain on the Lower Sermenza. I have not giggled so much on the river for a long time.

I now have a few days back in reality, frantically trying to get all my stuff together before flying to India on 7th June. I am very excited for the next adventure!


Driving the megatrain down the final gorge on the Sermenza. Photo by Zoe Hadley

Driving the megatrain down the final gorge on the Sermenza. Photo by Zoe Hadley