24 November 2008

Saturday Swims

I woke up on Saturday morning to the sound of rain on the bunk house's door and a rather nice bacon and egg sandwich. Plans were quickly put in place for a nosy at the Mawddach, with a fall back plan, if there wasn't enough water, of the Fairy Glen. We knew the Glen was going as the Conwy phone gauge let us in on the secret that it had come up with the nights rain.

From the above photo I hope you've worked out that the Mawddach was too low, as was the Gamlan, which we had a quick look at, so the Glen of Fairies it was. I have heard so much about the Glen, and on many occasions heard it renamed as the Scary Glen. I've got to be honest here and admit that I was slightly apprehensive to say the least to be putting on what is seen as one of the UK's test pieces. Like the previous day we were split into small groups, so that we could get to know more of the selection invites, but also to spread out the 20+ paddlers. After a quick inspection of the 'Sticky Hole' my group was the first to put on. Everything went well with the first drop and we carried on downstream.

Me getting ready to boof out over 'Sticky Hole' (Picture: Dave Burne).

Unfortunately the day didn't carry on as well. It wasn't long after running 'Sticky Hole' that I found myself upside down, as I lazily dropped down a small drop, concentrating on the upcoming Henry Moore, and missing my roll. I gave it a few more goes, before reaching for the ejector cord, and pulling my deck for what I thought would be an unpleasant swim. It turned out to be a lot nicer than first anticipated. By the time I had reached the surface I was at the bottom of Henry Moore; I had run it upside down, and being fed, with all my kit, into a rather large eddy that had a nice rocky shelf for me to empty my boat and jump back in from. It was my first swim in over two years, and to be honest I was quite glad of it. For a while now I have felt like it was going to be coming and I am just so glad that the outcome was so amiable on a stretch of river that could have dished out some horrific carnage. We carried on downstream.

Inspecting Fairy Falls.

Fairy Falls eventually was upon us, and for the first time that weekend we headed for the bank for a quick bank inspection of the infamous grade 5+ drop. I wasn't really feeling it, what with the previous swim and the odd ache from the previous day's paddling I headed for the river left bank, shouldered my boat and portaged down to the scree slope, on the right hand bend into the second gorge. To be honest I probably could have made the lines and got down with out any incident if I was on my game, but I just didn't fancy the consequences if it all went flying towards the fan.

Luke Farrington throwing it down over Fairy Falls.

Miles Hill riding out Speeder Biker.

Looking up some of the last gorge as one of the groups descend.

The second gorge of the Glen went well. I got surfed in a hole for a while as I decided to take off for a boof on the down steam side of my boat, which just resulted in me dropping onto the foam pile slightly sideways and it took hold of the round hull of the Rocker and held me. Luckily the next guy down knocked my bow out of the hole so I could pull free. That's teamwork baby.

Once out of the Glen we had a quick Boater X from Beaver Pool to the take out where decisions had to be made on what the afternoon entailed. It was suggested that we could do another run of the Glen, the Lledr, or the Cwm Llan. The group was divided, however the majority were opting for the slog up the base of Snowdon for some crazy low volume, steep gradient action on the Cwm Llan. With majority rules this is where we headed next.

Walking into the Cwm Llan.

Looking downstream as the selection invites get on for the quick, short descent.

What must be one of the most impressive horizon lines in the UK.

Ben McKeown stepping up with half a blade to run the last 6m rocky mess.

The run down was good and I'm still trying to decided whether the 4km walk up Snowdon was worth the 500m of river. It probably was. The Cwm Llan is unlike any other river I've paddled. It is exceptionally steep and continuous, the water is crystal clear and the views from the water are probably some of the best on offer in the UK. It was just a shame that we didn't reach the top of the river till about 3:30pm when the light was starting to fade, which meant the pictures weren't the best.

That night the team was selected by the invites voting on the five people they would want on an expedition before we headed out for a night on the town.

More pictures can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

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