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Monday, 31 May 2010

Low water, rain and BCU 1 Star

Congratulations to Parvez, Maurice and Bryn on passing their BCU One Star on Saturday. Credit must also go to Harry for organising the course and enduring it again under such difficult conditions. As anyone who looked out on Saturday will have noticed, the weather wasn’t ideal for paddling!

Earlier in the week saw water levels on the Severn reach an unacceptable low, so low that I broke a fin off my SUP board trying to get upstream on Tuesday. The fin that broke was a plastic thruster fin which hangs about 2 inches below the board, hence the weekend rain might have been miserable to paddle in, but was much needed. However, the enthusiasm on the One Star Course didn’t let the weather dampen spirits and I hope you all paddle with us again soon – especially now that you’ve discovered that a little bit of white water can provide a whole lot of fun!
And finally I hope the coconut made it all the way back to Birmingham and you’re keeping it safe for your next course down on the River Severn.

Monday, 24 May 2010

2 Star in Ironbridge

Well done to James and Oli who completed their 2 Star Award with us this weekend. As usual with our star test courses the weather hit a new extreme - sun and soaring temperatures this time. I think the river was possibly the best place to be.

I hope the course has given them the experience and skills to go off and explore new waterways for themselves, but I expect the debate over which craft - canoe or kayak -  is set to continue for some time.

After completing their assessment we headed down to Jackfield to try some white water and show James and Oli what they might be letting themselves in for on a 3 star course. In addition to having a great time playing on the waves we were also treated to witnessing the idiot brigade attempting the rapid on a Sit-on without buoyancy aids, helmets and footwear. This resulted in a new injury I never seen in kayaking before - crushed testicles due to being pinned on a rock! After paying no regard to safety the idiot even expected to be rescued and have his kit recovered.

Never the less his suffering did provide some extra entertainment for those of us properly kitted out and a chance to experience first hand the safety element of the course. James and Oli showed some real potential paddling on the rapid and I hope this will lure them into kayaks!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Tryweryn

Firstly congratulations to Phil who came of age as a river runner on Sunday! A trip down the lower Tryweryn from Chapel Falls to Bala without a capsize - no mean feat !! If he keeps this up I think we'll have him running the upper section by the Autumn.

Sunday was also the day spring finally arrived. Despite a poor weather forecast the day turned out warm and sunny with me turning out over dressed and sweaty. We met early (9.15am - well early for me) and as a result had the river to ourselves for the entire run down. It really felt like a wild river without the plastic log jam that can occur on the Tryweryn during the summer months. For those of you not familiar with the river, it is dam controlled, so the water remains runable in dry spells when other Welsh rivers are reduced to a pebble beach.
The lower Tryweryn is only graded at grade 2, but there is plenty to keep you occupied. For those of you have done the slalom site at Llangollen and Jackfiled, just imagine having those two sites linked and repeated for 6km and you'll start to get the picture.

Most of the rapids we ran on sight, with two exceptions. One on a bend that looked tree choked from above and Bala Mill Falls. The Mill Falls are grade 4 and we thought best left for another day, so we walked around this one!
The run from there down into Bala is usually an uneventful one, but on this occasion we met two delightful local teenagers who decided to exchange Welsh insults, their only mistake was the ones I know are far worse than anything they may have learnt in school. Sometimes Welsh relatives do have their uses.

After the trip we returned to the White Water Centre for a bacon butty and a pot of tea. The Tryweryn Centre can be just so civilised! The other great thing about the Tryweryn (apart from the cafe, the facilities, the clean river etc) is that use of the centre and river is free. A lesson that could be repeated at other sites that are far less salubrious.

Saturday, 8 May 2010


Thursday turned into a very long day! Out on the river with the kids from work in the morning, 3 hours paddling a SUP in the rain. SUP boards are great for teaching canoeing and single bladed paddling, also standing up gives you a better view of the river. Only drawback is it hammers the abs and parts of my arms not normally used - then I had the usual Thursday night session to run. So glad to crawl into bed!

Good to see the regulars still building on last year's skill. To get back in a boat and go straight to the river after the winter layoff is some achievement. Well done Tony with his first paddle on the river, we get you join the darkside (short boats) one day!