So the heat wave has been coming to an end…so a perfect time to get some practice in for upcoming white water season! Myself and my level 3 candidates Nick and Rob who I’ve been working with for the past year packed up our kit and made the 5 hour pilgrimage from the dry lands of Devon to the dam released reliable water level and of Bala, Gwynedd.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Tryweryn here’s the basics. The Tryweryn is a dam released river which runs past Canolfan Tryweryn which is the National White Water Centre for Wales and ends up pouring out into Llyn Bala, next to the wonderful village of Bala. With the river being dam released it means 2 things 1) That so long as there’s a release (which you can check on the Canolfan Tryweryn website) you are guaranteed levels for Kayaking and 2) That the upper section has been ‘modified’ to make it a perfect training ground for the mid grade kayaker to test their skills. The river is split into 2 sections…From ‘The Chipper’ to Chapel Falls is the upper, this is a superb section of Grade 3+/4 river where the river bed has been tinkered with to make perfect eddies and fantastic features. From Chapel Falls to Bala Car Park is the lower section a Grade 2/3 run with endless rapids which are perfect for honing a novices White Water skills.
So after driving up in one long push on Friday night and setting our tents up in the dark we had a lazy start on Saturday and headed for the Centre. After a quick walk down the upper to look at features and watch some paddlers challenging themselves on the rapids we suited up and got onto the lower section just below Chapel Falls. After numerous rapids, 5 hours, 2 swims and many eddies caught we arrived at Bala Mill Falls. Bala Mill Falls is a spicy Grade 4 drop at the end of the lower section. The drop itself isn’t too much of a hassle but the Grade 3 lead in rapid can set some nervous people on edge, and a fair few have ended up swimming before reaching the meat! For novices there is a handy leat system so you can easily portage the drop without even stepping out of your boat! We were treated by getting to watch the local youth squad (including some of the GB youth squad) practicing at Bala Mill, we got back into our boats and headed off downstream through some of the gates out for the training. We got out, and I jumped on the bike for the 4 mile shuttle ride back up to the van at top!
After showering we hit the local pub and had a well deserved burger and pint! Talking through what day 2 would bring.
Day 2 we decided, due to the fact we needed to be back on the road for lunchtime, that we would stash the bike at the road bridge about half way down the lower section, just before the famous boulder garden rapids. The rain overnight meant the Environmental Agency released less water so the lower section was slightly lower than the day before, which for the group was great, as more rock dodging practice was defiantly needed! After moseying down the 2 mile stretch, practicing White Water skills, we hopped out and packed up the van!
All in all a very successful trip up North, 3 swims, 2 long shuttles on the bike and lots of fun and confidence building had!
Nick and Rob where fantastic and it was great to see their skills progress so much in one weekend!
(sorry it comes up sideways!)