Recent Paddles- new ticks and old favourites

With the recent abundance of wet stuff falling from the skies we have been out boating making good use of it to gain a few new ticks and some older classics in high water.  

 New Year Paddling; Nantmoor, Colwyn, Glaslyn and Ogwen. 

New year weekend saw flooded roads and swollen rivers on the Friday night as we arrived in Wales. The next day river plan was set, Nantmoor, Colwyn and Glaslyn gorge. Early morning river inspection was disappointing; the water had come and gone so quickly. The Colwyn was just over the minimum level on the gauge, the Glaslyn was rather full and the Nantmoor a bit more than a ditch and not worth paddling. The guidebook was right on this occasion. It’s a river for paddling when all the others are too big.  A shame really, I needed an N rivers for my A-Z of rivers.  

We headed back to paddle the Colwyn. The put on point was a little vague but we found somewhere to put on. In hindsight it was a bit too high up the river where it is still a ditch. Some tree and rock bashing commenced with lines like “slide down that rock, don’t get pinned on that rock, go through the ivy bush and while your there avoid your head on the overhanging barbed wire.” NICE! Not my idea of paddling but after a while the river opened up and enough water had joined to make it a river. The Colwyn has some interesting rapids and drops. Some can be read from the river but many require bank inspection. This combined with the odd tree hazard and pinning potential meant a lot of getting in and out the boats and walking round a few bits. I would paddle it again but with more water in and my big boat.  

Mike had by now faded with the man-flu, myself, Will and Dinny were not liking the prospects of having to run the Glasyn gorge, it was too big. There were stinky holes and pour-overs everywhere with no time to think in-between. A full on KM of grade 5. No thanks. Only Ade wanted to paddle it but no one would play with him, so we headed over to a good old classic, the Ogwyn and ran the Gunbarrel section down to the bottom of Fisherman’s gorge.  

The Ogwyn was up and certainly higher than what I had ever paddled it before. I now know why Gunbarrel rapid is so called. In previous levels it didn’t seem like much but this time you avoided the large boat eating hole and then get shot out over the rocky slabs that followd with little ability to control where you go. Don’t capsize here. Fisherman’s gorge was big, only the largest of boulders were poking up above the water level but it was still low enough to allow some fantastic eddy hopping river read and run paddling. I love the feeling you get as you skirt past a huge pour-over and think “I’m glad I’m not in there.” On the other hand I hate the feeling when a huge hole appears in front of you boat and there is nothing you can do except SPLF and wait for a beating. This river gave you both feelings.  The following day we went to paddle the Glasyn gorge hoping it had dropped off a bit. It had dropped off quite a bit but was still paddlable. I was a big chicken and decided not to paddle it. Ade and Dinny styled it. I’ve added the river to my “to paddle” list. Next time I won’t be a chicken.

Last weekend paddling; Leven, Lune and Kent.

That was our New Year paddles but we also got out last weekend and ran some good old favourites, the Leven, the Lune and the Kent (twice). The Leven was rather high. We spent some time inspecting Backbarrow falls. What was the water doing under the bridge? River right was an exploding hole and river left was a stinky stopper and re-circulating eddy. The pool after was horribly quiet and the boils extended for ages after the bridge. The river was lots higher than any of us had paddled it before. Would it let us through or would all three of us take a beating?

Will. Andy I and myself got on feeling rather nervous. If you got re-circed under the bridge you would have to get yourself out and hope you got flushed. The first couple or weirs and rapids were fun and bouncy with lots of standing waves to surf. Then came Backbarrow. Will first, Andy second and me last. The approach was horrible, I knew my line and kept looking to see if I could see paddlers and boats safely out the other side or two boats and helmets going round and round under the bridge. I could see neither and any way there were no eddies to stop. I was committed. Get the boat lined up, left to right down the tongue, paddle hard, slight right edge, hold a right hand draw stroke, ride the cushion waves. Don’t go left, don’t hit the right side bridge stanchion, keep head together, prepare for beating.  Then suddenly I was through, the right way up and my head barely got wet. Yey. Will had come through upright also, Andy had taken a roll and some flapping but we all had big grins on our faces. Now for a relaxing run down a medium-high Kent

The Kent was in good form, the tree in S bends had gone and the bottom drop got the better of me again. I can’t remember when I last ran this drop upright in anything over a medium level. Grrrr. 

On Sunday I paddled the Lune with Will, Tim D, Heidrun, Ade, Mengis and Dan (Ade’s son). It was at a good level, well over the ledges at the get out and there were plenty of boils in the gorge sections. Heidrun and Dan did fantastically well and ran all the rapids.  We fitted in another run of the Kent. It was a bit higher than yesterday. I did the bottom drop upright!! Yey, Dan did the bottom drop also. His eyes were on stalks going down it. We didn’t let him look at it before hand and quite rightly so as when asked after would he have run it if he had seen it he said “no way”! Well done Dan. 

So a good weekends paddle of some old favourites without hitting a single rock!


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