There were 10 of us assembling during the Friday, for the Wales Weekend : 22 – 24 February 2019. Sam, Lauren, Marion and Alan arriving early enough to paddle from Llanwrthwl to Newbridge (6 miles), which they enjoyed in the sunshine.
Sam K, Paul, Adrian, Julia, Robin and “D”, all turned up in time for supper in The Clarence.
We filled Colin’s B&B Plas Y Fynon. After hearty breakfast (personal service) we headed for Newbridge intending to paddle down to Builth Wells (9 miles). Small delay as Robin needed to replace a punctured tyre, so Robin & Adrian met the shuttle at the Builth Wells car park, and were ferried back to the start where the boats were ready for launching.
Lovely sunny morning. Rather low water meant continuous concentration to select your line. Water levels at Bwlth where 1.163 meters and falling and at Ddol Farm (near Rhayader) where 0.494 meters and falling.
We took turns in being leader – a humiliating responsibility since everyone hit rocks – though some more than others. The chief pirouettist will remain anonymous.
Kathy’s Corner was the highlight. Low water made the first set of rapids negotiable so long as you lined up correctly and kept straight. All the boats made it, one open being paddled tandem, steered by Adrian and thrilling the passenger.
The second drop was blocked by a tree to the right hand side. The water was flowing through the tree with every chance of a capsize trapping the paddler under the tree. Alan and Sam K decided to risk their Opens through it and steered confidently through. Marion then demonstrated how professional she was, steering round the tree but just caught the end under the water and had to brace firmly to stay up.
The remaining boats were “walked” (Lined) around the tree and relaunched in the pool. Thereafter, the rest of Kathy’s Corner proved no problem, ‘cept Adrian’s Carabiner got left behind.
Sunday we all repeated the Friday foray from Llanwrthwl to Newbridge. A technical challenge as the water was even lower. Water levels at Bwlth where 1.14 meters and falling and at Ddol Farm (near Rhayader) where 0.475 meters and falling
We lingered over lunch as it was too lovely not to. Everyone was keen to try polling the open boats in the rapids. “D” did well, but over-balanced and collided with 2 boats, soaking one of them – Julia’s, and thus her lunch (or was it Adrian’s) and her cag.
We pressed on, enjoying the paddle but conscious now of the time & the journey home.
Conclusion? A fantastic weekend. Weather, technical challenge, decent meals, friendly. Maybe just a couple of lessons :
- Avoid the Clarence on a Saturday night in future, when Wales have beaten the Lions.
- Don’t smoke in the bar when Marion is around
Article by Robin and Photos by Robin & Adrian