Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Afon Glaslyn:  29th March 2015

Paddlers:        Bill, Ali, Chucky, Rob, Zaf, Jamie, Brian

After a somewhat sleep-deprived start due to the clocks going forward, our bleary-eyed but no less enthusiastic band of paddlers gathered at Dobbies for the mandatory coffee and breakfast stop.

Heavy rain in Wales brought the promise of good levels and a check on the EA gauges confirmed that the rivers were indeed starting to kick. The general consensus given the mix of experience in the group was to go for the Glaslyn. This offered the prospect of a nice grade 2/3 stretch suitable for all, followed by a classic grade 4 gorge section for the braver and more experienced among us.

Suitably fuelled up, we therefore headed for Snowdonia where a layby-full of paddlers at the get-in for the Conwy testified to plenty of water. The lashing rain and wind continued to herald the arrival of summer (!) obliterating the usual scenic views and threatening to dissolve all desire to leave our cosy car interiors. However, a quick stop to check the gauge at Llyn Dinas confirmed green for go, and the worst of the weather mercifully began to ease off as we kitted up at our preferred get-in towards the bottom end of the lake.

The grade 2/3 section above the gorge provided some fun paddling and further opportunity for Chucky to practice his excellent leadership skills. Bill took a back seat for once - well, most of the time! Rob shook off the rust of his seven-month break, Zaf and I bimbled along happily within our comfort zones, Jamie gained more valuable white-water experience and Smiley Brian brought his usual good humour and back-marking skills to the party.

The tree that some of us had witnessed crash down during our 4* leadership training had been removed so no portages were necessary. However, the main feature, a tricky section of rocky rapid, provided some safety and rescue practice as Jamie tripped over and took a short swim. Paddler and kit were all safely retrieved and the only damage was to Jamie’s pride :o)

We approached the top of the gorge in much-improved weather conditions. The gauge was well into the green and we exited river left in order to walk down the path and inspect. A stunning section of grade 4 water at a good medium level was revealed. Lines were analysed and Brian and Chucky elected to run it while Rob provided safety and the rest of us found suitable vantage points. Both paddlers acquitted themselves brilliantly, with Brian styling the approach to The Breaker and driving into the eddy river left. Chucky aimed for the knuckle but was slightly off balance, missing the boof and dropping into the guts. Once grabbed, there was no escape despite a couple of brave attempts to roll, so he had the novel (for him) experience of a swim. There followed an entertaining interlude with rent-a-crowd forming on the bank whilst boat and paddler were reunited. Chucky’s Alpine-length line and a great throw from Bill did the trick and our two intrepid brave hearts continued down to the get-out.

So, another fab day out in great company, with two maiden runs on the gorge and some unfinished business for next time! All rounded off by beer and chips at the Royal Oak in Betws-y-Coed and the pleasure of meeting Zaf’s younger and much, much better looking brother!! ;o)

Thanks guys, it was a blast!


EA Gauge at 0.87 about 2” above the green tick

Ali and Zaf practiced leading the rebel.