Originally we had planned to paddle a tributary of the Dee called the Alwen, however water levels had risen overnight and being a narrow section of river with reported barbwire and overhanging trees we decided against it! So off we went to paddle the Conwy which was flowing at a nice level. We had a mixed group of abilities and experience with myself (Chris Underhill) Dan Underhill, Ed Cosson, Elise Shortman, Ethan Barthorpe, Oliver Moore, Connor Godfrey and last but not least, Jamie Curry all paddling.
We did the grade 2/3 section from Ysbyty Ifan to A5 Bridge. We scouted the get off on the way to the start as the eddy under the bridge isn’t huge and comes after a short rapid section, with a reasonably large group for a narrow river we wanted to ensure we managed this correctly.
Once we had our usual pre paddle checks and discussion we got on the water via a small path leading down the side of the village bridge. A nice bit of flow running under the bridge gave us all a chance to warm up.
It was a nice paddle, quite technical with plenty of trees to avoid often leaving very narrow chutes to get through, but we managed them well with plenty of communication which meant no mishaps so far! Rocks were also a big feature of the day, some being avoided, and others not so much (sometimes on purpose!) with Jamie managing to gracefully exit the water on top of a large rock, still fully in his boat, but both being fully out the water, quite impressive actually. A quick rock back and forth and he successfully seal launched back in. Shortly after this Dan decided he wanted to have a go at rock hunting but wasn’t quite as graceful as Jamie ending up upside down, and in quite a shallow, but fast flowing section. Unable to roll he decided a short swim to the bank would be best! Boat emptied and we got back on until we came across some rather large rocks almost entirely blocking the river. Off Ed and Ethan went to scout from the bank. They quite quickly returned to say everybody out, we need to portage. We all had a clamber over onto the rock to discuss why the decision was made to portage, it was quite clear that it wasn’t the most friendly of drops, and although there was a runnable line, the pool at the bottom wouldn’t be the nicest place to be if it went wrong. So a quick portage round and back down the bank onto the river.
The rest of the river was much the same with a few rapids and rock gardens to navigate through, but most getting the hang of it and choosing some good lines with no dramas. As we approached the get out we had a clear plan to get people down in groups of two, reaching checkpoints as we go to ensure we didn’t overcrowd the eddy at the get out. A short carry up the bank and back to the layby on the A5.
A great day on the river with fab company, and hopefully some progression for most, either on their own paddling, or leadership qualities.