Turkish Delights in June

Turkish Delights in June

Turkey and kayaking weren’t words I had previously put together but when asked if I fancied a two week trip to Turkey to experience my first white water away from the UK I thought it was the perfect chance to get some sun and try to improve my boating. Six months later I found myself touching down in Dalaman airport with my trusty inazone in tow. Team Turkey consisted of myself, Bob (our token open boater), Frankie (Chris Smith), Matt W, Jamie, Miguel, Grandad, Beast, Donna and Nicola. It was at this point that I realised I was going to be easily the weakest, and only girl, paddler and that everyone else had monster sized Pyranha Burns or creek boats, leaving the lingering question of was I out of my depth?

The scenery in Turkey was fantastic, big mountains with deep canyons containing spring or dam release crystal clear waters, all of the rivers were pool drop in nature allowing some breathing space between rapids, giving plenty of time for the lads to put me back in my boat after one of my numerous swims.

Fantastic scenery - gorges of Turkey

Fantastic scenery - gorges of Turkey

The Dalaman river was the start and finish for the trip being run on several days as the rafting company we arranged our trip through was based on it. The lower section was dam fed and graded 3+, although I could have sworn it was harder, it wound its way through a canyon which started by a village called Narli and ended by a Roman bridge. The Dalaman upper section was a grade higher so I left it to the men to paddle as continuous grade 4+ sounded a little bit out of my league; from all accounts it was good fun section to paddle.

The end of the rapid on the Dalaman that claimed most of my swims and where I first tried to roll.

The end of the rapid on the Dalaman that claimed most of my swims and where I first tried to roll.Grandad on the upper Dalaman

We then moved onto my second favourite river of the trip, the Köprülu, at grade 2+ to 3 it was commercially rafted but being large volume there was plenty of space for everyone, unlike the Tryweryn… The river provided plenty of long wave trains which gave me lots of chances to practice my roll on, Chris the opportunity to capsize two girls on a raft while trying to surf a wave and all the lads the chance to ogle Russian girls rafting in thong bikinis.

Miguel on the Köprülu

Miguel on the Köprülu

Beast playing on the Köprülu

Beast playing on the Köprülu

The Manavgat river was the dark horse of the trip, the guidebook was confusing reading and the get in hard to find; even the locals were unsure about which section of the river was which. Knowing that one section of it was up to grade 5 with a must make portage and the whole of it was running through a deep gorge I decided to have another rest day and leave the river for the men. Nearly eight hours later as they arrived back at the get out in the dark I was very glad I gave it a miss. The section started out at low volume, requiring a fair amount of portaging but suddenly lots of springs entered from the canyon walls and the roller coaster ride began. At one point the whole river disappeared below ground but there were still plenty of rapids to keep everyone interested and to a cause a few swims including Matt (his first for a few years).

Chris on the Manavgat

Chris on the Manavgat

Manavgat, so glad I didn’t do it!

Manavgat, so glad I didn’t do it!

The last new river of the trip was the Alara which ran alongside the road and was my favourite river of the trip. Again this river ran into a canyon which at one point narrowed down considerably, causing Miguel to swim when his paddles were ripped from his hand as he blind probed it over a drop into a boily mass of water. According to him, he could see the bottom so reckoned it was good to run, apparently that’s the Portuguese style of boating. Common sense prevailed as the rest of us decided this was probably the drop the, up to this point, rather inaccurate guidebook has recommended portaging! I finally managed to get the hang of boofing drops on the Alara. The same section of the Alara was paddled a couple of times as a section further downstream we were originally planning on doing proved too tough a task for our minibus to get to.

Alara

AlaraThe Alara from the road

Due to the distance between the rivers we also had the chance to sightsee, sunbathe, or swim in the rivers. We also experienced a real Hamam where we were pummeled and scrubbed by semi-naked strangers, ate lots of kebabs and köfte, which are miles better than the ones you have after a few pints in the pub, and drank the local natural yoghurt based drink ‘ayran’, Turkish tea and coffee and just generally experienced the culture; how many times has a British policeman given you a cup of tea when asking for directions? We spent most of the trip outside the usual tourist areas but found that having a local driver really helped and even in the smallest village someone would have a roof, olive field or tree house where we could stay the night for a few lira.

Castle by the Alara river

Castle by the Alara river

Tea with the police

Tea with the police

Although not crammed full with river after river, the trip was still full on, most of the rivers taking up a day to do with long shuttles to the get in. Creek boats proved to be the order of the day as the big volumes suited the rivers and also allowed a decent stash of food and drink to be carried; most of the rivers paddled included a stop for lunch. I loved every minute of it and was pleased with my first attempts at rolling on moving water, my confidence increased massively. I really want to go back next year as have unfinished business with one rapid on the Dalaman that caused a vast proportion of my twelve swims, so anyone up for paddling some new rivers with no problems of too much or too little water in plenty of sunshine?

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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

Wales 9th/10th Feb

Pics from Mary H , Stanley pics

So Saturday morning saw Stu,Helen,Dale and Joe arrive early morning at my house, where i had prepared pre-trip bacon sarnies. Then off we went to meet up with the guys that had set off the day before and stayed in the camping barn. We convened at the Llugwy at the Plas-y-Brenin centre, but alas no water. The decision was made to paddle the Conwy from the main road bridge through to Penmancho Bridge, with an alternative get out at Rhydlanfair Bridge if preferred.

It was a sunny day with a good group of us on the river. We split into several groups, and in order to have aproductive day decided to take the opportunity to work on skills, including river leading. Everyone did well, and the trip passed without much incident until Bryn Bras Falls, which inevitably unseated a couple of the less experienced of the group, however they were quickly extricated from the cold water and reunited with boats and paddles none the worse for their dunking.

 A few people egress-ed at Rhydlanfair Bridge, whilst the rest of our depleted number continued down the shorter ‘middle’ section. Before long the first Grade 5 was upon us. Stu was the only one to fancy the run, and bashed down it unscathed, though not sure he would recommend it to anyone at such low levels, bony to say the least.

smilesGrade 5

 The portage saw us launch just upstream of a tree lodged in river left, exposed at this level. Safety was set, with everyone passing safely through, even though Erica took the opportunity to take another dip to cool off after the portage in the winter sun. Most of the group got off river right some fifty metres upstream of the second Grade 5 to enable easier access to the road, prudent as the ladder river left allowing access to the seal launch avoiding the Grade 5 is no more, making access back to the river awkward.

 Myself, Stu and Andy Raho continued to the next rapid. Having briefly inspected, i decided to go for it. Having made the first part of the move to the right i failed to get far enough left after and glanced off the rock wall before being held against it sideways by the flow. Briefly managing to hold my edge by bracing against the wall with my head, i was then flipped. I rolled up in the river left eddy-bonus, before breaking in for the drop into the pool below.

Andy followed next, only to end up vertical against the rock after not making it far enough right at the top, the proceeded to do the rest of the rapid upside-down before eventually rolling up in the pool below – kudos for staying in the boat and continuing to attempt rolling that many times.

Stu took the ‘paddle into the rock that’s in the way’ route and came off better than the rest of us, fair play.

Sunday brought no rain, and the group split into a Stanley and Tryweryn trip. The Tryweryn was on a relatively low release, but a good level for practice nonetheless. Well done Claire P for her first roll on moving water. Some of our party then headed off to the Dee, where they also met up with the Stanley guys.

KayliaAndy

 An excellent weekend rounded off with a trip to Kelly’s sunday night.

Squirrel

Wales Jan 08-Cwm Llan/Glaslyn/Conwy

A quick check of the 5 day forecast before leaving work on friday showed nothing but heavy rain for the next five days in North Wales-brilliant. Myself, Stu, Ric and Lloyd set of in good spirits. Staying in the £2.50-a-night farm cottage in Beddgelert as the week before, Niall, Matt, Tom and Jack arrived shortly after us. We spent the evening by the fire discussing rivers for the next day, and listening to the rain outside.

Getting an early start, we checked the level on the way past the Aberglaslyn gorge-significantly higher than last week, and a definite run for later. We settled on going just up the road to paddle the Cwm Llan, before meeting the Uni day trip for a run down the Glaslyn, with the option to run on through Beddgelert to the gorge for those wanting a harder paddle.

As the only one of our 8 strong group to have paddled the Cwm Llan, i set off first, having assured everyone the walk-in was only a couple of kilometres (its not in Sladden’s Welsh Rivers guide).Hoping i had remembered the way from a year previous, the memories of the walk-in flooded back-several km to a steep river flowing off the southern flank of Snowdon, with a boat, across tracks,fields and eventually up to the river was pretty tiring. As i had hoped though, the level was good (otherwise i would have been lynched).

AndyTomRicRicAndy

 With some of us paddling the majority of the drops, and others choosing to do certain sections, time was soon getting on. This run is great fun, with numerous drops and slides of varying height and gradient. The last potentially runnable drop looks cleaner on the right, but then ends in a small pool with a cliff face making protection that side hard. The left line looked rocky but doable, however it must be noted that following this fall there is only about 20 metres before a large unrunnable fall.

Stu wanted to do it, and so we set up safety and watched him bounce down it relatively successfully, though needing a roll at the bottom. Not to be outdone, Ric headed to the top. What followed was a somewhat less graceful descent than Stu’s. Partway down the fall Ric hit a rock, span sideways and the nose hit a rock at the side of the fall. He then did a barrel roll, landing face first onto rock, as he pin-balled out of control down the remainder of the drop. Paddles having been wrenched from his grasp, Ric did what can only be described as the quickest hand-roll ever in the pool, as livebait Stu dived in to ensure he was ok and rescue the paddles.Miraculously everything was intact, except the dent in Ric’s ego – good job he borrowed some elbow pads and a Sweet Rocker helmet before attempting the drop eh!

Stu last dropLast drop
Vodpod videos no longer available. from luckyblog.vodpod.com posted with vodpod
We then made our way to the Glaslyn to catch up with the Uni group before paddling the gorge. After a rather unfortunate chain of events, and an injured paddler, it was deemed necessary to call a ambulance as a precaution, but it turned out the casualty was ok in the end. A big thanks must go to the farmer who was very helpful. Some then continued to the get-out in town, whilst a group further on managed to fit in a trip down the gorge as well.

 It rained again over night, and those that stayed for Sunday were in for a big day on the river. Off to the Aberglaslyn gorge, the level had risen further, lapping at the bottom of the wooden walkways by the main drop. I embarked with Stu, Andy Rahoo and Andy as the second group down. The first few hundred metres were somewhat washed out compared to the week before, but before i knew it we were at the start of the gorge proper. As the gradient increased, i was too close to Andy to avoid taking the same line through the middle of the first big hole. Lucky, being in a playboat, i went under it with the water above my head. I realised that i was going to have to be switched on if i was going to avoid getting a pasting! It was pretty full on paddling with little time to think. Lots of volume, no eddys to speak of and big holes made this a rather sporty paddle to say the least, where if something went wrong you were probably on your own. At this level this is a continuous and commiting apline style run, plenty of Grade 4 to keep your attention.

Having had already scouted the main drop from the bank, I decided to go for the guts and tuck up to try and avoid a repeat of last weeks backlooping. It worked a treat as i resurfaced the right way up and grabbed an eddy, knowing this was about the only opportunity to do so. Andy was last, and unfortunately ended up taking a swim at the main drop. He was pulled out by the guys on the bank, but the boat was gone. I paddled down the next section alone with Stu watching from the bank downstream. I hit a big hole and tried to pull myself over it, only to be dragged back and backlooped before flushing to my relief.At the bottom Andy’s boat had been rescued, complete with a new nose shape and split in the hull – bad luck.

Stu and Ric did another run, before the group split, and we headed to the Conwy. It was unrecognisable-a fast flowing, river wide, brown flow, with big boily eddy lines and plenty of waves and holes. Some fun was had through Bryn Bras Falls, before dodging the 20 or 30 metres of scaffolding fence at the road works that was now running directly down the middle of the river. We stopped for Stu and Ric to do some dirty ditch paddling,  but before we knew it Rhydlanfair bridge was reached. With only 4 of us continuing on the next section, we tentatively made an eddy upstream of the first Grade 5, which looked a grade up at this level. A portage followed then a quick run before another portage at the second Grade 5. With the flow still river wide, the water was flowing over the seal launch rock and into a hole with a nasty recirculating eddy to the right and ugly looking boils on the left. It was not for us, so we made our way to the Conwy Falls cafe for hot choclate-mmm. 

 The other group had headed off to the Eden, but that story is not mine to tell…

 Andy_Squirrel

Photos of Wales – Aberglaslyn, Fairy Glen, Croesor

AndyL wrote: 

It was a top weekend. Multiple runs down the Aberglaslyn gorge after an early start for myself, stu and rick whilst waiting for stu’s mate Dan to arrive. Then it was off to the Llugwy for a run down Pont Cyfygn involving plenty of looking and safety cover (and Ric spending some alone time behind the curtain of one drop). 
All this and it was only lunchtime.

My mates from Nottingham, Ash and Robin were just about functioning after a night in Bangor and met us and off we went to Fairy Glen. A slight look of bewilderment on Stu and Ric’s faces at the apearence of Robin’s full face helmet was amusing, before they headed to the get-in and Ric dropped his boat which nearly soloed the Glen.
Two runs later and it was dark. An interesting evening spent in the barn cooking and lighting the fire rounded off a good day.

Sunday saw us at the get-out for an unlikely looking run: the Croesor. The get-in looked equally dubious, but, not to be detered, we kitted up for the 2km of V-VI according to the guidebook. Looking more like a ditch, the first section required several tree portages and dodging various others and scraping round rocks. I was scouting and filming (not paddling) which helped speed things up, and resulted in lots of footage – watch this space. Several small drops and narrow chutes kept things interesting until the main drop was reach-an interesting looking horizon line. After some thought the drop was run, I even got in on the action by borrowing Ash’s boat and blades. Some more drops and chutes followed including an unrunnable fall near the end.

It was mid afternoon but the Lledr was our destination, so 14.30 saw us getting on with the possibility of a short walk out to the road if necessary with light being in short supply. An interesting line down Pont y Pant falls saw me and my Kingpin spun round before an inadvertent end, courtesy of catching the back of my boat on a rock, saw me finish the drop facing the right way, result! A quick portage for me of the entrance drop to the Rhiw Gorge saw the boys in the big boats all style the line. Excellent challenging run, plenty of IV to keep things interesting. Dont forget to stop and inspect Viaduct Falls, a committing V rapid run with varying degrees of success: Robin sidesurfing the stopper at the bottom, and Ric not to be out-done getting backlooped in his Jefe – before the river eases off to the get out above the confluence with the Conwy Fariy Glen run. 

Video:

boating in wales video

Boating in Wales Jan 08

Pictures, by AndyL, in no particular order: “Say NO to camping. Just say no.” “Aberglasyn gorge.” “Fairy Glen.” “Creosor, Horizon Line Ahoy” 

Links to maps in Chris Sladden’s books: Upper Conwy (Fairy Glen), Aberglaslyn gorge and Creosor.

More photos on facebook

See previous post for llugwy video (Pont Cyfyng).

River report – Lyffni grade II/III – Dec 31st

This is a report of the third new (to us) river paddled in 3 days over New Year, yay! Paddlers were: Alison, Claire, Tim, Heidrun, Helen, Aussie Dave (C1)  and Sue.

After the dark and twisted ways of the Grywfrai the day before, we thought we’d pick one of slightly lower grade and rather more guidebook stars – the Llyfni, 12km II/III.

Ukriverguide description, Welsh Rivers description.

The farmer at the get-in was friendly, but quite firm that he was not happy to let us get on – he’s had hassle in the past from farmers downstream giving him grief for letting people paddle. This was after we’d already unpacked, kitted up and done the shuttle, so a big thanks to Mike, who then shuttled us all again to an alternative get-on we found further downstream – Cheers Mike!

The lower get-in is from a public footpath river right of a road bridge. It misses out “the everglades” and presumably is further downstream than the unhappy farmers – we certainly didn’t have any more problems.

Very pleasant. At first very slow moving, then narrows and picks up speed, twisting through open countryisde, flowing nicely with occasional II rapids, very nice.

On getting briefly near civilization, the river passes under a roadbridge and tunnel – this needed inspecting, as the tunnel contained one wheelbarrow, a bunch of other rubbish, and some metal stakes – keeping far right avoided all this.

Then after a while the river descends into woods. The Llyfni does have a much more “open” feel to it than the Gwyrfai. Still tree hazards to watch out for and sometimes portage, maybe there were 4 or so that needed walking round, but the open aspect of the river meant there were also long read-and-run II/III rapids without having to worry too much.

Alison and Claire river-led, thanks for looking after us! Sue was sweeping, and Tim and Dave buddying up as one pair, Helen and Heidrun as the other. Heidrun did fantastically – this is only her 3rd river ever, a sterling job. One dunking near the beginning (tree hazard) didn’t damp her enthusiasm one bit and she picked good lines.

The most challenging bit C1-wise was a rapid starting with one larger drop between boulders, and then a nice 3 or 4 smaller steps before levelling out. Dave approached the top drop, promptly tipped over, rolled up to cheers and relief all round, still managed to tip over a second time, did the first drop completely upside down, rolled up a third and final time and carried on. We cheered. Nice one Dave, no swims on the Llyfni then.

The rest of the river was happy and dappled and ran nicely with plenty of II/III rapids, a couple of portages, no flat bits, a lovely river.

Towards the end were two weirs, both went at this good mediun level. We finished river left after the road bridge of the main A499 coast road, where Mike was waiting to whisk us away to the Inigo Jones Craft and Tea Shop.

Never been so exhausted – crawled up the bank to the car and collapsed.

A happy 3 days of paddling in good company, hooray!

Roeburn Pictures

Saturday dawned dim and drizzly, so Will, Cath, Dinny, Rachel, Splinky and I made our way to the village of Wray to do the Roeburn.

team

The river was a very nice mid level – not in spate, but certainly not scrapey.

I managed to need to roll (twice) on the first little weir. Sadly, still in sight of the put-in.

The nature of the river was very nice indeed – good and continuous, but very rarely without an eddy ahead in sight.

Rachel

 All went very well, some very nice rapids. There were also quite a few tree and man-made hazards to be wary of – three places with ropes or makeshift bridges accross, which were fine to see and portage round in these mid-levels, but at higher levels, it would be harder to stop in time. There was a tree right accross just after one right-hand-bend.

Now the very sad, snippety-snappity part of the story. On one little section, Will was signalling left, but Rachel and I just didn’t go left enough, so Rachel ended up at a tree (skillfully extracted by Cath and Dinny), while I chose a more under-tree route, snapping my paddles and swimming 😦 Cath saved the day with her trendy red splits.

Team 

The hardest drop of the river is a natural shelf, pic at ukriversguidebook. It was lower than in that picture, and river left didn’t look nice at all. Dinny probed a line just right of the centre boulder, which we followed, Helen and Splinky competing for least-style (does backwards win?).  Rachel did a very nice swim, but mine was still better, cos she failed to break her paddles.

Village of Wray has some very fine tea establishments: Bridge House farm, a posh garden center with gifty things, a lovely roaring stove fire and chocolate brownies from heaven. A very good day. 

Report by: Helen. Pics by: Dinny