The one where Ellie hurts her bum.
In the glorious sunny days under the ‘ash cloud’, spring had danced into view and the happy few were lustful in their anticipation of a long weekends camping, BBQs and fabulous paddling up in North Wales.
As the Bank Holiday drew near, the weather forecast turned the mood more to trepidation and the seeking out of extra thermals, down jackets and woolly hats. After perhaps a record number of emails, arrangements were made and at last we headed up the motorway on the long route north. A very long time later the early starters (Olwen, Kate P and Ellie G) arrived to find Dave Hill and Victoria already sitting around the campfire in fine (80's) style. Even later arrival by Ally, Harriet and Tom completed the party and draining a wine box in attempt to keep out the cold, we did at last get the tents up in the dark - 1st prize to Kate for putting up a brand new tent by torch light – colour coding? What colour coding!
An early start didn’t really happen on Saturday – we were all waiting for Dave to get back and make us breakfast, but eventually we made it to the water, but not before Ed and the rest of the group appeared, having just driven up from London. Still we beat them to the river and had a very good warm up paddle on the lower Trweryn. The levels were great and the decision to run Bala Mill Falls happily was not ours to make as below the falls the river was hosting what seemed every slalom paddler in the country. Only a little drama as Ellie managed to find a sneaky rock and get pinned – thanks to ‘knight in shining armour’ Ally no OBE was to be had and we all continued along the new portaging culvert – a great new addition to a lovely paddle. All except Ally and Tom that is who, having got permission from the slalom competition, proceeded to show us all how it was done.
Racing back to head down the International section, after a quick catch up in the café, we were on to the first of a couple of runs down the river. Apart from Kate whom the river claimed on run No.1 most of those who paddlers seemed to have a great time – Tom showing us how its done with his newly converted C1 playboat and plenty of photo opportunities for those of us watching from the sidelines.
Pouring rain drenched our plans for a BBQ and we all headed off to Bala for tea. Later after dressing in every possible layer (Some of us were so stupid… a weekends camping in May… I had ‘only’ taken 2 fleeces, full waterproofs and a woolly hat. Still while I was bemoaning the lack of a down jacket, thought should be given to Yuji for bravely wearing only flip flops the whole weekend!) There was an attempt another campfire, under the protection of a tarpaulin, to try and keep out the cold. For some not even this, the layers, and alcohol could keep out the cold and a few hardy souls were left to disturb the campsite while the rest of us took refuge in the tents!
By the morning the rain had finally dried up, encouraging most of the group to go and tackle the river Dee and leaving a merry few and a nervous one to head back to the Tryweryn. Well Ed, Olwen and Dave had a good afternoon getting in some of the plays which they had missed the day before. After of course they had fished out a very unhappy arse – also known as Ellie G, firstly after the graveyard – nice swim that one! And then saved her from the clutches of a nasty sharp rock underneath Miss Davis’ Bridge. Well them and half the paddlers in North Wales – Thanks Guys! Anyway with Ellie G and her poor broken bum being safely kept away from the water, one more run was safely completed by Ed, Olwen and Dave.
Inclement weather had struck again and so back into Bala for excellent pizza and lots of vino rosso. (Thanks again to Victoria for the down jacket cushion) then back to the campsite all thanks to the devoted chauffeuring services of Alan, staying sober just to ferry us all home. Sunday found us back at the Dee for a bit of laid-back surfing practise – well for all of those who could think of sitting in a boat! Before heading off on the long route home.
Thanks to Olwen for organising a great weekend – same again next year? (Or maybe with a little sun!)