WATER WAYS: Enjoying the taste of life under sail are members of Teesdale Sailing Club
WATER WAYS: Enjoying the taste of life under sail are members of Teesdale Sailing Club

Teesdale Sailing Club

Teesdale Sailing and Watersports Club is a hidden gem between the rolling hills at Grassholme Reservoir, near Mickleton as I discovered when I paid a visit recently.

The club which began in 1972 was originally based at neighbouring reservoir Selset, before making the permanent move to Grassholme in 1997.

They have membership of almost 70 and have all yachts and safety equipment at the site in upper Teesdale which they share with anglers.

Richard Hewitt, the Royal Yachting Association principal, said: “We sail on a Sunday, but we have days on up to three times a week in the summer.

“We run various courses; this year we have a ‘start sailing’ course for adults and juniors; we have then level two and level three courses, depending on the participants’ experience level.”

There’s also a competitive side to it. As well as the friendliness and welcoming nature of everyone, the will to win is apparent as soon as the yachts reach the start line.

I joined the sailors from the safety of the motorboat that patrols the group. I spoke to Keith Martin who has been a member of the club since its opening in 1972.

“I joined the club in the September of 72, so I guess you could call me an original member,” he said. “The club has had its trials and tribulations, but it’s great to see it where it is today.

“The facilities we have here now are great, but as with anything we’re always trying to improve.”

The club accommodates all ages and ability levels with several teenagers on the water manning their own boats.

I decided I didn’t need to have a first-hand account of the deliberate capsize that all newcomers must complete in practice in case the measure must be taken when there are no safety boats present.

Once safely back on land, I managed to get a few words with Heather Waugh who had just had her first sailing experience.

“It’s been fabulous: it’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. It’s been really fun. It’s very hands-on and practical which is brilliant, and the instructors have been great with us.

“It’s a brand-new experience and we’re complete novices, but they couldn’t have been more helpful.”

The club celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2022 and they’ve got the wind in their sails with a prosperous future on the horizon.