The paddling group was smaller. Adam, Graham, Mat S, Ben, Fitz, Emma, Roy, Sue, Lu ,Max, Andy C, Jenny and Claire.
We paddled from The Chain Bridge Hotel to Town Falls in Llangollen. It was a beautiful warm day, I think a lot of us regretted having so many layers on.
Early on we encountered the Serpents Fall. The levels had fallen from 2 day ago, at the bottom there was now an exposed rock on the left hand side, narrowing the exit some what. Most of us (except the experienced ones) opted not to run it – Except Andy C, who decided to have a go at it. After the serpent had claimed the first 2 swimmers of the day, Fitz and Matt S – Andy had a rethink
It was an interesting paddle. Jenny had a couple of swims, but felt happy at the end. I went over but thanks to Ben and Graham managed to right myself. Claire had been very nervous and in two minds whether or not to paddle, however by the end having paddled really well she felt much more confident and had really enjoyed herself.
Most people got out at Mill Falls, just before Llangollen. Mat persuaded me to do Town Falls, the logic being that I had just got my head wet so what would be the harm in getting my head wet again? I was extremely nervous. I was reassured that there was nothing to get pinned against and that there wasn’t a stopper at the bottom. Emma said she had swum it previously and it was fine. So having had all those worries put to rest it seemed a good grade 4 fall to attempt. There was no opportunity to inspect it. Ben’s advice was to ‘just keep paddling’. With those words running through my mind I set off trailing Emma. After the first little drop, whilst paddling over to river right I found myself facing backwards. Matt was behind me shouting words of encouragement. I managed to turn myself around only to be faced with the drop…..water was coming from all directions, I hadn’t known what to expect……….Ben’s words came back to me and I just paddled and didn’t stop. It was great to see Ben’s face smiling at me as I got to the bottom still upright. I think it was sheer luck. Graham had gone over but managed a roll. Fitz had gone over, Max was following close behind Fitz, he hesitated for a second and he too went over. Matt came out to; as he floated past the hotel window he waved to the people gawping at him and got a wave back. When we started the drop there were only about 3 people on the bridge looking at the river, by the end it was packed full of spectators. Adam and Ben went chasing off down the river after paddles. Unfortunately Fitz’s paddle which is 25 years old got swept away.
This is a fall that is a good fall for people who want to push themselves a bit, but at the same time feel safe, as at this level coming out just means a swim….there was no nasty stopper at the bottom. I learnt something else very useful on this trip. Make sure that your paddles are visible, so that if they get swept away they can be seen. I am going to invest in some fluorescent tape. It is also good to put a phone number on them, as if in Fitz’s case they are lost some nice person may find them and return them. We have also labelled our kayaks after almost losing Jonah’s last year.
Again a big thank you to everyone for making this weekend yet another happy and memorable WKCC event.