The Usk is a great little river down in the Brecon beacons, ideal as an introduction to moving water and a great little paddle with 3 sections. Over the Friday evening we slowly began to meet at the bunkhouse claim our bed and retire to the pub just across the road. By the time Saturday morning arrived and few others coming as a day trip we had around 14 people. Out in the car park at minus 5 Deg C we scraped cars and headed off to the get in to get changed and shuttle cars.
From looking at the river from the bank we thought it would be quite a scrape by 11am were on the water and it turns out it was quite a scrape, picking the best lines down involved finding the only place where there was enough water to float the boat through. The first feature was a small rapid that we all got out to inspect with some people running down it others portaging. By this time the sun was out and the day was about as beautiful as you could get, there couldn’t be a better place to be paddling with the dramatic mountains in the background with the autumnal feel to the whole day you would not have guessed its towards the end of November. Shortly the first rapid we came to few natural drops in to pools of which everyone had a go at with no swimmers or problems just smiles all-round from them new to white-water.
With many small rapids each getting more water than the last leaving the shallow rocky stretches far behind us we paddled on to a total length of around 9 miles. We were all thankful when the end was reached as the short boats on flat water take a lot of energy to keep moving. With a small amount of standard faf at the end of the day involving getting people back to the correct cars, this was soon forgotten once in the pub with a few beers and great food.
Discussions for the Sunday involved one of two options either a section on the wye which should have water but is quite long or a shorter section on the Usk, due to how everybody was still feeling it from the day before it was decided on the Usk again.
The shuttle this time was only short as the road was very direct we unloaded into a field full of other kayakers some of which had turned up by the bus load. This was as much motivation as we needed to get a move on. Within a very short amount of time were back on the river. This section of the river which is further downstream than the day before had much more water in so rock dodging wasn’t so much of a problem. The main feature of the day went by the name “Mill Falls” this is a series of drops making a really enjoyable rapid. Everyone had a go and passed down without incident. A selection of different techniques were used, the slow eddy hopping method, the follow me down the line method, the “this is not the planned line” line and by far the best named method “The Train”. Everyone made it to the bottom still upright so that’s a good outcome.
The river was ideal level with plenty of practicing breaking in and breaking out ferry gliding resulting in a role by Sarah at which point she learnt how easy it is to trip over an eddy line. With a well formed boulder garden we were able to employ more river running techniques and get some practice in. within a few moments we reached the bridge to get out and back to the bunkhouse for nice hot showers and in the cars to go home. Another great weekend and a great introduction to moving water for some of the newer members.
This trip will be running again in the new year to take in the section of the wye we were unable to do this time.