After a busy week at work I was looking forward to a weekend away boating. It was Friday evening by the time plans were being finalised, they mainly involved Ben picking Tom Brooks, myself and Sarah up quite early on Saturday morning and driving to wales. Come early Saturday morning Ben and his massive van come mobile home was outside. We loaded, got on the road, checked the internet for river levels, checked again, checked again and after updating Stevie we decided the Seiont was the best option.
We arrived at the side of the river after meeting up with Stevie, waited for the rain to get as heavy as possible before we started to get changed, as being in Wales boating we are not used to getting changed in the dry. Leaving the others to sort the boats, we shuttled the cars and got on the river. The Seiont is a fun Grade 3 river but constant white water for most of its 13km of length. After a quick inspection and a few portages of the Grade 4 section we were paddling, it was a mix of heavy rain or sunshine. The river finishes with a great little paddle into the sea right under the shadow of Caernarfon castle.
We were soon changed and back into dry kit and then stood around in the rain while Ben ran Stevie back to his car. Once sorted we were loaded and off. We said our goodbyes to Stevie as he was working on the Sunday. That just left the 4 of us in Ben’s mobile bunkhouse. We made our way further into Wales towards Sunday’s location. After finding a little pub for some food we carried on to find a very remote carpark which was perfect for us to camp out in. With boats safely locked up outside, we spent the evening in our new mobile bunkhouse exchanging our most epic paddling stories along with the usual embellishments.
After a very quiet night’s sleep in our little carpark, we were up, making breakfast, and off to find more water. Today we were meeting up with Dutch and Adrian who were driving up to meet us. We’d had a request from Adrian to do the Wnion and today both the river level and the group was perfect for such. We met at the side of the Wnion, got changed, did the shuttle and got on.
The Wnion is a great continuous Grade 4 river that starts with a little drop followed by many rapids, boulder gardens and finally a tight gorge. With nerves on edge we set off, I kind of knew the river so set the lead, stopping to check sections out and setting safety where needed. As soon as getting on we came to the first section; a small, perhaps 2m high, ledge drop. One at a time we’re through and off, rapids, followed by more rapids and a quick swim by Adrian at the end of a rapid. After a while the river picks up and we have a grade 4 boulder garden to navigate. After a quick swim by Adrian at the end we were off to a set of big ledge type drops. Que TomTom exiting his boat and taking a swim. I start chasing the boat and paddle, only to find I’m directly above the gorge section and alone. Deciding not to continue alone, I had to watch the boat float off into the distance.
After a quick get out to sort the group out and work out a plan, 3 of us paddled off downstream while the other 2 climbed up the bank to get out. Now its just me and Dutch on the gorge section which at this height can only be described as awakening. We get to the get out, catch up with Ben only to find there is still no boat or paddle in sight. We now need to make a plan as we have people and kit all over the place. Plan made, Ben gets out to sort cars and the others out while me and Dutch set off downstream boat hunting. Within 15 minutes or so we had located the boat stuck mid river. A quick rescue and we are towing the lost boat downstream. Within another 10 mins or so we even located the paddles, “Happy Days” we have all kit back. We paddled on down to the get out, updated everyone with our location and managed to get everyone and all kit reunited.
This was such a great weekend involving paddling some good rivers, getting cold and wet during the day, sleeping in a cool location at night, all with a great bunch of people.