Wales March 08 – Lledr and Conwy/Fairy Glen

So its been a while since my last article, been slacking a bit (sorry Helen). This is due to sorting out my new job (yay) and doing lots and lots of paddling. And i mean lots. Last weekend was my 10th consecutive weekend on the water water, with around 8 out of those 10 encompassing two days paddling.

Photos from Andy Squirrel on Facebook

March has been an excellent paddling month for myself, bearing witness to my first ever runs down Fairy Glen on the Conwy and the Upper Lledr, as well as returns to the main section of the Lledr as well as the Upper and Middle sections of the Conwy.

Robin inspects Fairy Falls

The first weekend in March saw me hooking up with a friend from Nottingham who also provided discount delivery of a new boat for one of Stu’s housemates. We set off saturday morning after a hearty cooked breakfast, but nearly never made our destination. En route along the A55, in the outside lane there was a 4×4 and trailer ahead of us in the inside lane. Next thing we knew the wind caused a wooded pallet loose in the trailer to become airborne, hurtling and rotating through the air like something out of Hollywood blockbuster Twister. We braked and fortunately the pallet came to a halt straddling the lane markings just before we reached it enabling enough room to swerve between it and the central reservation! This definitely woke us up, so we proceeded to the Conwy.

Here myself, Si, Robin, John and Phil jumped onto the Middle Conwy for a warm-up before heading down the Fairy Glen. The second Grade 5 was at a good level, and i fair-ed better than last time down remaining upright though exiting backwards into the pool below.

 So onto the mighty Fairy Glen, know as a test piece of British paddling and one of the best runs at its grade – 2km of Grade 5 comprising two gorges split by Fairy Falls (5+). The phone gauge had read around 1300, and at this level the first drop of note – Sticky Hole – lives up to its reputation. One ran it one portaged and the remainder of our group sneaked down the left. I then proceeded to end up in the hole below against the gorge wall, performing some creekboat freestyle for the rest of the group sat in the eddy below before paddling out along the wall. The run comprised of being explained the line in the eddy above each rapid/drop, followed by everyone paddling off followed by me tentatively following on.

Fairy Falls

For a first run it is great to have a group that knows the lines, this speeds things up , but can make the run seem more full-on. Inspection is difficult however, and you could spend hours on this inspecting and not really seeing much! A quick inspection at Fairy Falls and it was a goer. This leads into the second gorge, which contains rapids including Pipeline, SpeederBiker and End of the World. Before you know it your at the Lledr confluence and you can pause for breath – what a fantastic section of whitewater.

The following day saw our number cut to three, the phone gauge at 1400, and an even quicker run down as i didn’t need all the lines explaining, just occasional reminders. Sticky hole runs nicely at this level, ride a cushion wave to the left then two stokes to straighten up and boof the drop. Managed to nail the line through the hole i spent time in the previous day, only to end up in the nest one at Monkey Drop – doh. No inspection at Fairy Falls, Robin informed me as the level had risen it definitely ran, however some of my marker rocks from the previous were now underwater! A fantastic sight looking back up the gorge from above End of the World seeing the rapids you have just run bathed in Spring sunshine. Then off to the Middle for a quick blast. Both days paddling were followed by visits to the lovely Conwy Falls cafe for refreshment, very enjoyable.

 The following weekend was Student Rodeo weekend, but rain forecast in Wales saw me and Si van camping near Dolgellau in the hope of paddling the Mawdach, Gamlan,Gain etc. Sadly this was not to be as we checked levels saturday morning whilst heading north towards Betws y Coed. As we drove past the Lledr on the A470 it appeared as through the rain had fallen in this catchment, and we resolved to investigate the Upper Lledr and continuing down the raging lower section. After some faff our group was united with a get-on decided. This section has some enjoyable drops and small rapids before a section of flat above the testing rapid at Ponty y Pant, but allows for a warm up and extends the paddle by some 9km.

Squirrel boofs a drop at Pont y Pant,Lledr

The Lledr from Pont y Pant is a excellent run and everything goes at lower levels. We walked the entrance drop to the Rhiw Goch gorge and Viaduct Falls, but everything else went nicely. Some of the guys rounded the day off with a run down the Llugwy from below Swallow Falls to Chip Shop Drop, much to the entertainment of passing tourists. After food we headed to Llanberis for a party at the Boulder Adventure boathouse for some beers and a catch up with old friends.

Sunday saw a lazy start with breakfast at Pete’s Eats followed by another trip down the Glen.

Last weekend i only ventured out for sunday, electing to stay home and watch all three Six Nations rugby matches – the right choice as the rain didn’t come until saturday. Sunday saw me, Joe and Martin hook up with various ex-Nottingham Trent paddlers for a run down the Lledr at a slightly lower level than the previous week. Another great paddle, followed with a run down the Upper and Middle Conwy to round things off.

Manufacturer of choice - Dagger

What a month it has been so far, with Scotland still to come. Enjoy

Squirrel

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