Finally the Friday evening arrived where I would find my self on the M6 on route to North wales with Dave ready for our four star training. We turned it into a more upmarket paddling weekend with a B&B booked right in the centre of Llangollen. 9pm were pulling up in the B&B car park an hour earlier than planned the only thing we could think to do to pass the time was try some pubs in the town centre. After a few pints of sleeping juice were off to bed in our nice warm room while the wind and miserable weather outside carry’s on.
Saturday morning we have a full English breakfast few pots of tea and were off to our meeting place 20 mins up the road. I was hoping for a chance to paddle some different rivers but due to lack of water we were left with the good old Tryweryn (Saturday) and Dee (Sunday) unless something magical happened with the weather.
We met our coach and the other person on the course making 3 of us in total had a quick chat and were off to the car park in Bala to get changed and drive to the top. While the usual (plus some more) faff was going me, Dave and the coach were discussing paddle length as mine are relatively short and I struggle with them in my wide boat, Dave suggested I try his spare set, All is ready and were off to the get on at the bottom of the main section of the Tryweryn.
First job after a long talk about the kit we have, should have, shouldn’t have etc were off at all times our personal paddling skills are under assessment so the coach can help us improve as were getting onto a river I have no problems with I was not at all nervous unlike the other chap on the course. Only problem is upon putting my deck on I slid into the river went to break in and found my self upside down straight away. Luckily I rolled up but it dint look too good on my part but I know the others thought it was intentional. It wasn’t. Turns out the paddles had a different feather to my normal ones and I ended up the wrong way up. After a great day using many different styles of leading down a river, group management, incident management lots of theory as well as personal skills on grade 2-3 water we were at the car park packing up ready to head back to the B&B.
The evening found us again sampling the delights of the Llangollen night life before returning to our nice upmarket B&B. Sunday morning, breakfast again being a full English set us up for the rest of the day. Knowing there was going to be some swimming involved we were changed into all the warmest of kit. We were on the mighty Dee using all of our new skills form the first day we were leading each other down all of the rapids and showing off our own personal river skills with breakouts, ferry glides etc. We spent a fair amount of time looking and discussing serpents tail as to whether it is inside out outside of remit of the four star paddler and why. We decided it was just and went for a run down everything went fine until Dave decided we needed some throw line practice and exited his boat halfway down. With all the other rivers not working every canoeist in north wales was on the Dee as a result it was getting quite busy with people swimming all over serpents tail and ropes going everywhere. Plenty of practice for us through.
After a lunch stop we were down at the slalom site of Mile End Mill (or JJ’s) we spent a fair amount of time with all the features demonstrating our skills as river leaders and river boaters before we embarked on some swimming and throw line skills. After getting changed and a long winded de-brief we were off on our way home. A great weekend and well worth while doing the course for people that want to lead on grade 2-3 white water. Now to get some more trips in to collect hours for our log books. Watch this space for trip dates.