With rain coming down early in the week, everyone was hopeful for some good water levels come the weekend, but instead of continuing to rain it ended on the Thursday, and come Saturday all the river levels had dropped again except the River Conwy and Dee . So this became our plan for the weekend.
With 9 keen paddlers and a 7:30am wakeup, a 2 river plan was on the cards… After a fry up for breakfast at the Bala Greasy spoon we were on our way. Despite losing the head of our convoy on the way to the river, we eventually all made it to the A5 and the get in point just before the turn off to Ysbyty Ifan. Split into two groups with Pete leading one, and Phil the other we made our way down lovely river Conwy, the autumn colour leaves made it just a little scenic :-), and it even had a surf wave we could chill at for a little bit.
After passing early get out point, we continued into the canyon section which was spectacular and enabled us to enjoy some more technical sections. We also came across a few interesting portage sections where all of the group except for Phil, walked around. Phil decided to take on the Grade 5 rapid and made it look easy (check out the video on Tania Vescovi’s facebook). The second portage definitely made your muscles ache more than the paddling itself and also made you realise how necessary carrying a sling was, mainly for being able to drop your boat down the slope before you climbed down. It also involved a 3-4m seal launch for those who were game. All but Dan made it look easy, we’ll just blame it on the playboat! :-)
The canyon then got more enclosed, more beautiful and more technical. Phil who was leading the second group down didn’t want to miss the exit point, so we all got out a bit early, however upon finding our way to the road on the way to the carpark at Conwy Falls. We came across emergency vehicles on the road, heart pounding, we were relieved to find our fearless leader was alive and well, all be it, a bit cold perched on the rock below the final get out point, and with 2 siphons on either side of him, one of which his boat will make a permanent feature in. Thankfully some rope, water and about 5 emergency vehicles later he was up and fine, and with a bit of dented pride but hot chocolate in hand all were fine. And we ended the day in the pub recounting the day with perhaps one too many ‘rock’ jokes.
Day 2: woke up to the rain! Excited at first, we realised it was only drizzling and we didn’t have the downpour sufficient to bring any of the other rivers online. So the River Dee it was. Water levels were still low, but everyone survived the Serpents tail reasonably upright before continuing down to improving once surf skills on one of the surf waves down stream. After avoiding the whitewater tubs we made it Llangollen where after inspecting the rapids at Town Falls we had one large audience as we made our final voyage marking the end of our trip. With safety in place everyone succeeded in making the river left line down the rapids, and all stayed upright, I’m sure there were many a cheer on the bridge if we could hear it from the river :-) and with that ended up north wales adventure.
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