North Wales White Water, 9-10 September

Six club paddlers made the journey north to Canolfan Tryweryn, the National White Water Centre near Bala on Sat 9 Sep. After an early start and a bit of faffing at the centre, we hit the water at midday for a couple of hours of practice on the grade 2-3 ‘upper graveyard’ where Simon set us all personal challenges to hit nominated eddies and work on improving our ‘lateral momentum’. Chris had the first swim of the day here, when he misjudged a breakout and dropped sideways into a stopper; and Dave the first roll below the ‘obstacle rock’. We then made our way down the ‘graveyard proper’, a section of grade 3-4 rapids where Simon once again challenged us to test ourselves. However, most of us chose not to follow Dave on the right-hand route when he discovered another sticky stopper, resulting in five rolls followed by a swim. Full marks for perseverance, Dave! On through the Ski Slope – where we all managed Simon’s recommended left-hand route with varying degrees of success – and the Fedwrgog rapid at “Mrs Davies’ bridge”, where Tanya’s left-hand route met with less success (and a swim) than everyone else’s right-hand route (!) – past the café wave and through ‘fingers’ rapid to a well-earned late lunch at Manon’s onsite café. With the water release due to last until 6pm, we had plenty of time to then make a descent of the ‘lower river’, passing through NRA rapid and Chapel Falls and stopping to play on the campsite wave (more rolls and capsizing!) and stopper after which the river eased off for several kilometres of relatively-gentle (!) grade 2-3 rapids before arriving at the grade 4 Bala Mill falls. We almost missed the get-out to inspect the falls (too busy chatting!) but, having identified the ‘must-make’ eddy on the entrance to the falls, Chris and Tanya made the wise decision to portage while the rest of us made it through to arrive exhausted at the get-out in Bala at 5.30pm. After the long and tiring day on the river, we headed to Tyn Cornel campsite to setup tents before returning to Bala for a well-earned pizza dinner followed by an early night!

We awoke on Sunday morning to find a heavy dew, meaning our clothing left on the line overnight was now wetter than when we’d come off the river! Ah well, at least the air temperature was still warm… Back to Manon’s café for breakfast then onto the upper river again to put into practice what we’d learned the day before. We all managed to sharpen-up our skills and made it without mishap all the way down to the centre, making better lines on most of the rapids and enjoying a bit of surfing on the way. We were nearly all spent by lunchtime, after the long day before, so after more of Manon’s fayre we went our separate ways for the drive back South. Thanks all for a great weekend’s paddling; thanks Simon for your excellent coaching (and rescues!); and thanks Ellie & Simon for the fabulous photos!

Trip information & 2023 statistics to date:

  • 9-10 Sep 2023, Canolfan Tryweryn – upper river x2, lower river x1
  • 6 kayakers: Chris (Sat only), Dave, Pete M, Simon, Steve R, Tanya
  • 4 accidental swims and 8 rolls (I think!)
PaddlerNo of trips / daysNo of swimsNo of rolls
Mike1 (polo)
Pete M120.55
Phil H300
Sam C510
Sam Ha512
Steve H120
Steve R1600

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