Hi, we had a brilliant time at Brecon this weekend. well organised by Ed but many other contributions from a majority of the people there. A real team effort. There will be reports to follow for each day but to get you started here are some photos from Liz.
I have hopefully removed any photos for people that withhold their web image consent but if you want any others removed then please let me know.
Harry’s Report on the Usk paddle on 29th October 2011
Our group was made up of me, Laura, Oli, Tom, Richard, Clive & Ed in kayaks and Brian, Simon and Lucy in a canoe.
We started half-way along the route done by the other group.
We started under a big arch with some rapids at the bottom which meant we all got splashed straight away.
There were lots of good rapids for us to shoot on the way down which was awesome.
The longest rapid caused problems for the people in the canoe. There was a little bump at the end and they went down at a bit of an angle. The boat was front heavy and soon filled with water. I was a bit further back but by the time I got to them Clive had put up the orange group shelter. I think he enjoyed this. Brian, Simon and Lucy all put dry clothes on. Lucy put on lots and looked like a Michelin man!
We carried on for a bit then stopped for lunch.
After lunch there were more rapids. On the final big rapid Laura said “You can’t capsize on rapids” but the rapids proved her wrong!. She hit a wave sideways then a rock and went over. As we were near the end she did not get changed. We then got back to the bunkhouse where we all had hot showers to warm up. It was a great trip and I really enjoyed it. It has improved my confidence a lot.
Liz’s report – Ty Camlas, Brecon – October 2011
With the sun shining down on us, we enjoyed a pleasant drive through the colourful autumnal Herefordshire countryside, arriving at Brecon just before 1pm. After unloading our wares and receiving our prep talk from Ralph, the Bunkhouse owner, Ed, Oli, Paul, Harry and the Witherford family sat in the grounds enjoying lunch and a cup of tea – a perfect start to what turned out to be a wonderful weekend of thrills, spills (for some), laughter and much merriment.
As the remaining members of our party began to arrive, including Graham, Clive, Richard and Luke who had paddled the Vyrnwy that day from Vyrnwy Dam to Pont Llogel, others wandered up the canal side into Brecon for a browse around the varied shops. By six o’clock, most of the party had gathered in the dining room and the talk was of food and drink. Various volunteers were dispatched to the local supermarket and fish & chip shop to gather our necessities for the weekend after which we settled down with games and chatter (and a few drinks for some!) to while away the evening.
It was decided that there would be two different trips on Saturday, a longer one of approximately 10 miles, starting at Sennybridge for the more experienced paddlers, and a shorter 4/5 miler for the less experienced. Some of us who had been planning to do the shorter trip had a big shock when The Coaches decided otherwise but, as usual, they were right! (Thanks Adam, Clive and Graham.)
Appreciations must be given to the skilled group of male chefs who provided us all with a full English breakfast before setting off on what was, once again, an unusually sunny October morning. River levels looked good despite the lack of rain in recent weeks; thankfully a few days rain just prior to our arrival prevented it from being too much if a bumpy ride.
Both river trips had their swimmers, (one resulting in a dislocated shoulder (get soon well Lyndon), which was dealt with expertly by Luke and Paul) but when we gathered back at base for our debriefing it sounded like everyone had thoroughly enjoyed their day.
Clothes were hung to dry, cooks set to and everyone else pottered around till we all congregated for a wonderful meal of chilli, lasagne, baked potatoes and rice followed by the infamous cake-off cakes. Congratulations must go to Claire for her delicious lasagne as well as to Emma, Laura and Julie for their scrumptious cakes (sorry Julie but I’m not sure how Clive worked out that you were the winner-it was in fact a draw between Laura & Emma with you a very, very close third!)
Saturday evening’s entertainment consisted of a quiz on the Bunkhouse and surroundings, and then some fund raising competitions for Sophie when many a brain cog could be heard churning away! Many thanks to those who helped her raise £35 towards her trip to India, and sincere apologies to Brian who, having paid to enter all the competitions, then found out that he was not eligible for his winning prizes due to him being a family member! (I’m not sure if he’s forgiven her yet.)
Finally it was time to discuss the events for Sunday – a gentle paddle down the Usk, starting from the river just across the fields from the Bunkhouse, and then a paddle back up the canal which ran to front of our hostel – or so we thought….
By now people were drifting off to bed, much earlier than the previous night for some reason, the kitchen was cleared of the last remaining dirty crocks and only the last die-hard few were left to quietly chat.
Noises were heard mainly from the “Men Behaving Badly” room as early as 5.30am on Sunday; slowly others began to surface before Ed finally travelled the corridor banging on all the doors to ensure all were up in time to eat another wonderfully cooked breakfast, clear and clean all the areas of the hostel, get ready in our kayaking kit and be gathered outside for our 9.30am departure to the river.
Reports on the river conditions were announced at breakfast by Adam and Caroline who had been out for an early morning run – the river level was now much higher than on the Saturday and it was flowing at an extremely fast speed. A few of our group were advised that this meant the river was not suitable for them to paddle – for some that was a relief, I’m sure, but for others it was a great disappointment – however the safety of all had to be considered.
The news of the river conditions brought thrill and excitement to many a mind but for others (myself included) fear and trepidation were foremost in our thoughts. Adam must surely deserve “The Patience of a Soul” Medal for the way he handled and encouraged a group of us who, on seeing the river and hearing his safety talk, almost bottled out on the trip. Thank goodness we listened to him though as where we got on turned out to be probably the fastest flowing section and, having listened to his advice on ferry gliding and entering/leaving eddies and what to do if we capsized, we all thoroughly enjoyed successfully descending the river without incident, playing in the wave trains with greater confidence and improving our skills.
Those who could not join us on the river had strolled down the canal side enjoying the glorious surroundings to greet us by the lock. In spectacular sunshine, and as a group, we paddled or walked the canal back to the hostel where hot and cold drinks were awaiting us courtesy of Brian. Once refreshed, it was then a case of loading boats on to cars, changing into dry clothes, saying our thanks and finally saying our goodbyes to everyone.
All in all this was yet another fantastic event run by our Club that gave all who participated the opportunity to improve their paddling skills and to challenge themselves. Well done to Ed for having the foresight to book the accommodation up almost a year ago, to all the Coaches who offered help, advice, assistance and encouragement during the paddles and to everyone else who came for making it such a success.
All I can say now is “When’s the next one?”
Photos from Liz
Photos from Ed