Search This Blog

Monday, 29 December 2014

The Wild Wild West (of Wales)

Deep in the little-known depths of Wales, far from the nearest cappuccino, there is a river. A very special river. The river Tywi or Towy - not to be confused with the rivers Tawe and Taw - winds its way through the rolling hills and steep gorges around Llandovery, with enough rapids and drops to make the 90 minute drive more than worth it.

We got on the river a little downstream of Junction Pool, where an initial "You can't get on here" from the local farmer turned out to mean 

"Paddlers don't bother me in the least, but the bugger who owns the opposite bank can't stand anyone enjoying themselves for free so he's put up a bloody big fence. Two in fact. Topped with barbed wire. Oh, and he's going to plant a load of spiky hawthorn bushes to stop people getting down to the river".

The farmer was pleasant enough, and it was easy to see why he didn't want paddlers using his bank to get on; living in the middle of nowhere, you have to keep the neighbours happy, even the passive aggressive (or just plain aggressive) ones who have too much time and money on their hands. £1.50 each lighter in the pocket though and he kindly let us use his bank access.

The run itself had a few small drops, some decent sized wave trains and a couple of nice little rapids, great grade 2 fun all in all.

With the air temperature hovering around 4 degrees though, and the water cooler still, I couldn't feel my hands for much of the trip, and at one point my toes were so cold that I was convinced my right foot had somehow become detached from my leg. A couple of months ago I light-heartedly mocked one of our club members for wearing pogies (not least because it rhymes with... I'm sure you get the idea). After yesterday I'm beginning to think it might be a good idea to invest in some, either that or some kind of kayak mounted system for heating the water immediately around my boat (maybe I could recharge it with hot air from fishermen? Hmm, I see a plan forming)

The final rapid just before the get out at Dolauhirion bridge was the only grade 3 drop on the run, a fairly steep drop with a decent sized stopper at the bottom. We'd scouted it from the bridge and from river level before we got on the river, and it looked as though there was a pretty distinct slot on the left to drop easily through. From above though, the line was nowhere to be seen. I went hard left and managed to miss the top of the slot, dropping in from the side and nearly capsizing on the edge of the stopper. Three others in the group hit the line spot on. And swam. It seems a little bit of mild directional error can be a good thing sometimes, and it was nice not to be the one capsizing for a change.

So the winter of paddling continues...

Snaps courtesy of Graeme from Monmouth Canoe Club. Cheers Graeme!

No comments:

Post a Comment