posted on November 02, 2009 06:53
A tale of two rivers. For perhaps the very first or even last time we drove up to North Wales leaving early Saturday morning instead of the usual Friday afternoon. Everyone arrived at my house on time around 5am.
Onto the paddling then and at around 11am we were just about on the Upper Tryweryn running at 10cumecs and already quite busy with trade stands and demo boats from Pyranha and so on. Still it was good to be back on Welsh white-water again. We made it through everything and only stopped to inspect the “ski jump” drop.
At the bottom of the course we continued on down the Lower Tryweryn where we all had a go at leading just as we’d been doing on the upper section and got to enjoy some spectacular scenery with the sun filtering through the heavily laden leafy boughs. At the bottom of this grade 2 sections is Bala Mill falls; a grade 4 drop which on the previous visit I had portaged.
On inspection it looked safe enough on the day, so we all ran it without event. Another successful first descent! At the Bala take out the shuttle buses and trailers were waiting; along with about fifty paddlers and boats to get back up the river. It was well past lunchtime so I casually joined those at the front who were loading boats onto the trailer and just slung my boat in, and coolly asked the driver if he needed a hand with anything else. He counted upend said we can get two more small boats in here so I shouted out “OI! YOU WITH THEJACKSONS... THERE’S ROOMIN HERE FOR TWO MORESMALL BOATS” There’s no prizes for guessing who I had hailed and being the good natured gentlemanly scouty types that we know them to be, they had no hesitation in pushing past the by now grumbling, mostly elderly or infirm, very young or female paddlers who were in the queue, some even clutching malnourished infants still suckling on the gentle breast.
The afternoon was spent trying to play on the waves or catch the eddy at the bottom of ski-jump, always ending up at the last wave below NRA bridge which was the easiest and best for our ability.
A good time to test the waters and as I tried to roll up my head compressed on a rock so I quickly bailed out without giving the next rock a chance to take my face off. A long swim followed, leaving me with egg on my face while I pondered on how it was a kayaker in distress floating alongside an upturned boat back peddling all the while and momentarily grabbing every passing rock or blade of grass was not being overtaken by his chums in hot pursuit mode?
As I passed over Chapel falls my musings were brought to an abrupt end as my coccyx managed to slow me down by hitting rock for long enough for me to self pin the boat in a more hopeful attempt at DIY rescue as I wrestled with karabiner, throw rope and swamped boat.
By the time I had sussed out the friggin riggin, one of the chums was at the bank ready to grab the rope’s end and haul ass. He had even rescued my paddle so a happy ending to my inspection of the Lower upper and Upper lower sections of these rivers.
Saturday night is always busy in Bala as the locals patiently queue with buckets in hand awaiting the latest arrival of cheap-rate electricity. In the pub we had a jolly dinner and chatted with Tandridge Canoe Clubs Level3 coach who didn’t even know that there was a canoe club in Croydon; well she does now!
Our landlady had dropped us into Bala so all we had to do was get a cab back and we had made arrangements for a10.30 pm pickup… come 10.40 still no cab. We spent the time waiting by watching drunken Welsh lass, try to hold the pub up with her forehead. Then we started the long walk back but saw the taxi (an empty minibus) just a few minutes later, so in we jumped; how cool was this… the taxis in Bala even have room for kayaks inside!
Off to bed in a very nice clean Bala Bunkhouse complete with ample drying room, well, once I had pushed all the other wet kit into the corner and out of the way. Up at seven and onto the river after the customary BBB (Big Bala Breakfast). We were among the very first on the river... I just had time to grab a demo boat from the Pyranha van as they were setting up. The early bird catches the worm and we caught the Tryweryn at its most picturesque with the morning’s haze yet to lift off the canopy on an even sunnier day than it’s predecessor, nature could not have done more for her.
Our final reward was not one but two shuttle buses waiting exclusively for our use at the take out! Two for one, now that’s Asda price!
Time to call it a day so it was back to the cars to blast back to England and home. Well that was the plan but due to a puncture on one of the wheels, we had to travel over 200 miles home on a spare tyre that was not allowed to be driven at over 50 mph. Not quite the blast home we had anticipated as we eventually got back at 11pm.