Kayaking – Skills Training on the River Dee

On Sunday, I spent the day working for ProAdventure in Llangollen introducing two clients (Huw & Colin) to white water kayaking. The venue for the day was to be the River Dee in Llangollen, which was at 4 on the gauge.

After quick introduction, it was soon time to put on the water and after checking out paddling ability we began to look at the following fundamental white water skills based on a learning theme of speed, angle and edge (SPANGLE):

Huw surfing a wave

a) Ferry gliding (crossing a current);
b) Breaking in to the current;
c) Breaking out of the current; and
d) Eddy Hopping.

With the fundamental skills mastered, it was time to put the new skills to the test s we ran the various features of Mile End Mill (Grade 1, 2 & 3). Everyone manged to stay upright on the rapids and this seemed a convenient point to have lunch.

Colin relaxing in an eddy

After lunch, we portaged over to the Llangollen Canal and paddled along it a short way  before practising support strokes (low brace, high brace and sculling for support). Soon it was time to leave the canal and portage to the River Dee just below the Serpents Tail (Grade 3/4), which gives a pleasant but short trip back to Mile End Mill. During the trip, we looked at river leadership, hazards and choosing an appropriate line through the rapids. As the skill level increased, I introduced the concept of preangle and the squeeze stroke or as I like to call it doing more for less.

I had a great day on the water and seeing the improvement in Colin’s and Huw’s performance over the day was great to see and hopefully will inspire them to paddle under their own steam in the future.

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