This time we had plenty of notice and time to organise which makes a change for a kayaking trip. Matt and Frankie were planning on spending a weekend playing on the river Dee in north wales and offered it out to other keen people. After some back and forth messages we had organised where we were staying and who was going.
Come Friday evening I’m loading the boats on the car, picking Chris Short up and the 3 of us are off towards Llangollen. First stop the chip shop in the centre of Llangollen for their homemade fishcakes. Our accommodation for the weekend was a pod, basically an empty shed with a heater. We selected our space on the floor, set up sleeping bags and found the others in their campervan. Due to a lot of heavy rain, the river Dee had risen to a high level and with more rain due and our mixed ability group, the original plan of paddling the river Dee was revised. The rest of the evening was a mix of discussions about what rivers we could paddle and the pros, cons and various features of Matt’s new campervan.
Saturday arrived, day trippers showed up, breakfast was made and the decision was to paddle the Conwy from the small village of Ysbyty Ifan. At grade 2+, this is a great intro to white water rivers. After a quick briefing we were off, avoiding trees and practising our skills. At one point we split up and people were partnered up, Matt was with James and told to follow James down the tricky rapid. Que James going upside down and through a tree, much to the worry of Matt who was meant to be following this “Proficient” paddler. With just one swim by Matt and a couple of little portages, everyone made it down with great style. This section of river finishes at the start of the middle section. Matt and Frankie decided they had gone as far as they wanted and would get out. The rest of us carried on down the classic section which is a slightly higher grade than the upper without incident. Everyone got off, loaded up and headed back to the huts. Stevie was kind enough to give us a lift into town to find some pub grub and after a well deserved feed up we were back in the campervan putting the world to rights and consuming beers.
On Sunday morning we awoke to some rain which made cooking breakfast slightly damp. As the rivers had dropped we decided the Conwy was the best option. We’d lost a few people so with a smaller group this time, we did a quick shuttle and were off. As the level had dropped it made it a completely different river. After a few hours of playing about we arrived at the get out. Myself and Chris then decided we would carry on and see what the lower section is like as it had been many years since I had last paddled it. There were two very hard features that we portaged although one portage involved a seal-launch into the lead in of a large stopper called “The gobbler”. It lived up to its name and tipped me over, one fast roll later and I’m watching Chris nearly do the whole thing upside down.
With boats loaded, we were off home after another great weekend kayaking in North Wales. Thanks have to go out to Frankie and Matt for organising the accommodation and the weekend, we just turned up and provided kayaking support.
It wasn’t just me on this trip, In order publicise more trips and get people interested it helps to get writeups from a viewpoint other than mine.