As winter approaches the work eases up a little which allows time to catch up on admin, updating the website, kit maintenance and some personal development (at least that’s what I call it – Janet on the other hand calls it playing). This week’s bit of personal development was paddling with my good friend and fellow outdoor instructor Martin Digby.
Our chosen venue was the River Dee and with the gauge on 7.5 (Mile End Mill Site) we opted for a run down from Glyndyfrdwy. As we travelled down the river we played on various rapids and generally chatted about life and the universe. All too soon we arrived at Horsefalls which needed a plan. Martin in preparation for his 4 star assessment opted to run the ‘chicken shoot’ to evaluate how he might lead this section. I on the other hand hand had come up with a bolder plan and decided to tun the main falls. Unfortunately from the bank the drop didn’t look that big but as I approached the drop they looked a lot bigger and I found that my hands had moved to the gunnels to steady the boat (need to work on this) but it did mean that I stayed upright.
Martin led the chicken shoot with some style and then the next moment as he was nearing the final eddy managed to have an unplanned event but he and the boat were soon on the bank with nothing damaged but his pride.
The rapids from here take become a little more challenging and the first set was the Chain Bridge rapids which Martin led me down with ease, By now I had become a little uneasy at the water levels and decided to scout Serpents Tail (Grade 4) before running and the bottom stopper had a huge standing wave which would swamp the canoes. Therefore we opted to portage the tail and passed on merrily down the river. The Motor Museum rapids were passed and then came Campsite Rapids. Martin opted for the traditional river left descent where as I opted to run river right as I thought there would be nice drop to hone the skills on. Unfortunately, this is where I had an unplanned event and one self rescue later I was on the bank emptying the canoe with Martin smiling away to himself and muttering something about the score being 1 all.
Before getting off we run Tombstones and the Middle Weir before getting off smiling like Cheshire Cats and immediately started talking about plans for next week. While we were loading the boats, I glanced at the gauge only to find that it was now reading 10 which had meant it had risen 2.5 in about 3 hours!!
If you’re interested in reading Martin’s side of the story, have a look his blog entry about our day out.