Well no sooner had Ed and I crossed the border into Wales on the Friday evening and the rain started. What we didn’t know then was it would continue for the next 24 hours! I think we were the last to arrive and just as we did the others started to drift back from the pub. Tales of the days activities were told, several members having paddled the Dee at very low levels, others having sat and had a cream tea! Eventually all was quite except for the patter of raindrops!
The next day after a good breakfast plans were devised and the group split into two (with Paul already departed to meet up with his 4* group). The groups were split between canoeists and kayakers, although both groups were intending to paddle the same stretch of the Dee. As we drove up the valley we could see the river had swollen overnight. At the get in much discussion was had, but the reality was plain to see – the conditions were not suitable or safe for the skill set of a large number of the paddlers and paddling had to be abandoned for the day.
After reconvening at the hostel plans for non paddling activities were discussed over tea and cake (and a very good Victoria sponge it was too!). A larger portion of the group decided to visit Betws-y-Coed and Conwy falls, with the remainder of us staying in Llangollen. Apparently the falls were impressive – photos available courtesy of Max on FB.The few of us left in Llangollen took a walk along the canal, stopping to look at Serpent’s Tail – apparently there is a channel through the rocks, but you wouldn’t have known it. We walked on up to Horseshoe Falls which were almost washed out. The volume of water was huge (a technical term used by Rainchasers). We stood on the metal bridge and watched two groups bob along the river. There was also a huge amount of debris floating down. Returning to Llangollen we stood by the bridge and watched a few kayakers pass through, making the whole thing look rather easy. Satisfyingly they followed the line that had been discussed during the day!
After that we retired to the hostel, ate a wonderful meal and waited for the rain to stop.
The next day, after another hearty breakfast, the group again split into subgroups. Some headed for home, some went walking, some went to canoe on Bala Lake and a group of twelve went off to find some white water. The weather for the day was a complete change and we were treated to glorious sunshine. The Bala group enjoyed great scenery and Dave’s poling demonstration!
Those of us that went off to find some whitewater (Max, Graham, Nat, Guy, Sue, Kelli, Matt, Emma, Elise, Owen, Ed and I) headed north into Snowdonia, to Beddgelert and the Glaslyn. After sorting the ferry and looking at the get out we got on at a spectacular lake and set off. The river was still high and flowing fast. We hit as many eddies as we could and stopped to play and practice our skills at various points. All was going well until a clump of rocks decided to jump out at me and after a couple of knocks to my head I watched my boat disappear down the river with Elise shouting Swimmer! At the top of her voice. After a conversation with a man sitting in his back garden drinking coffee (‘how did you get here?’ and ‘good job you weren’t here yesterday ‘ followed by ‘someone got stuck there in their boat back in January’) he showed me how to get back to the road.
Recovery complete we set off again, dropping down to the final get out. Ed, Owen and I took the sensible (easy) get out, most of the others the more tricky get out and finally hats off to Graham, Max and Matt who took the challenging one. Fortunately no-one headed down the gorge! We were soon all off the water, changed and ready for the long trip home. Sundays paddle was a good one and I learnt a lot from it.
Despite the weather I think the weekend was enjoyed by all. Thanks to Claire for organising, to all of those that organised food or cooked, to the coaches for their patience and for everyone for the good company. Roll on the next one!