After another wet week the Dee was full and flowing. Once a minimal faff car shuttle was complete everyone safely launched round the trees from the bottom of the car park and 4 groups paddled off down the river. There were not many eddies as the water levels seemed quite high on the banks, but plenty of grade 2 bouncy bits to keep people on their toes. A play wave on one bend with 2 big eddies either side enabled everyone to regroup and enjoy the odd burst of sun while a tennis balls was thrown around. A great spot to practice surfing and ferry gliding. Next stop was lunch in a field beside the river to refuel before the main rapid of the day – Trevor Rocks! They were fast and bouncy, but no problem for the LCC – 100% success. Round the bend the country park came into view. The autumn colours in the valley and a perfect view of the aqueduct made for great end to the introductory river trip. Or was that the trip to the pub afterwards?
A patch had been coned out for us at Bodfan Farm as people arrived Friday evening. Although we did notice Rabble Canoe Club (AKA Ribble) got the area nearer the loos and water! Anyway the club flag went up as the dark fell. Saturday morning the sea kayakers set off for a day trip ending back in the bay at Rhosneigr. The little boats split into 2 groups. A few went to potter about the Menai Straights checking out Swellies rock, the rock under the cardinal marker, the fish traps round the island with a house and a new rock that emerged near the channel and required an investigation. The other group went over to four mile bridge paddling over to Stanley wave for an evening play. As the BBQ was lit a few more arrived for a Sunday paddle and we were treated to a small firework display after a sunset.
Sunday saw the sea kayakers heading to the Skerries, another group heading out from Rhosneigr and a couple heading home via JJ’s. A few were waiting for Fat Face to open at 10 before starting the days activities. Although the wind was a little more than expected those with bikes also headed out for a morning ride before heading for home after a late lunch back at an empty camp.
Late on Friday vans started to arrive and tents were pitched at Newgale campsite. The sun was shining and there was the sound of surf on the other side of the gravel barrier. A paddling plan was made as the sun set. A sea mist came in as we went to bed. Saturday morning saw some early arrivals. The sea kayakers headed to Port Clais to circumnavigate Ramsey Island. Another team of sea kayakers went along the coast for a few hours from Newgale towards Solva, weaving around rocks and arches. The little boats played in the clean surf. That evening everyone sat around the BBQ as the wind slowly started to increase and the sea mist returned.
The rain came in Saturday night but was starting to clear as we got up on Sunday. A few went to catch the boat to Skoma to see the Puffins, the sea kayakers went for a paddle in the estuary near Neyland and the little boats went for ice cream in St David’s. The sea paddlers went with the tide and wind up estuary to enjoy some lovely views in the shelter of inland waters. As the tide turned the wind dropped and they returned to a perfectly positioned pub for a late lunch in the sun. As the clouds lifted the water was also dropping of the barrier at Newgale and the short boats went in. The surf was bigger with more white water to compete against to get out back. That evening the wind turned a little to the north so people headed off to the warmth of their camp beds after sitting round the BBQ for a few hours.
On Monday morning a few headed home early, the little boats went back in the waves and the sea paddlers went back to sheltered estuary. It was still quite windy, but the sun was out so most people made the most of the sun, sea and surf before heading for home.
The summer heat wave brought a crowd to Rhosneigr for a weekend of camping at Bodfan Farm. A few came early on Friday and went for a paddle at the beach. Tony went for a 70 mile cycle round the island. The majority arrived in the evening after work as the sun set and a huge red moon shone. On Saturday the sea kayakers set off for a day’s paddling, the little boats went to Stanley wave and others went to do the Forest Coaster and Giant Swing at Zip World. In the afternoon some went out on their road bikes and others tested the club’s new stand-up paddle boards on the Swellies. The BBQ was lit in the evening and the group sat out in the evening warmth. On Sunday 3 groups of sea kayakers headed out on the water and the little boats went back to Stanley for a second go. On the way home Chris called in at Surf Snowdonia to ride the wave before finishing the weekend.
Short boats and long boats met at Newgale ready to enjoy the bank holiday on the Pembroke coast. Some had arrived early and spent Friday walking around the headland at Marloes Sands. No surf was forecast for the weekend. The short boats went for a paddle around the cliffs and caves going from Dale to Watwick Bay on Saturday, while the long boats went a little further to Dale West where there were a few little waves for them to play in. Lyn had got up early for a trip to Skomer and came back with reports of seeing Puffins close up and an Owl. Saturday evening the rain stayed away and the BBQ was lit before the wind picked up into the evening. Some of the group headed into Haverfordwest to grab a bite and watch the football.
On Sunday a few went for a morning walk and scramble on the cliffs. The long boats went over the gravel barrier to paddle 30 km along St David’s Peninsula with a detour to the Green and Black Scar islands just offshore. The short boats went south to shelter from the morning’s wind under the cliffs. They paddled from Norton Haven to Druidston Haven, surfing the clean little waves that they found along the way and walking up the beach to explore some cave rock pools. A second BBQ was lit after an evening paddle/cliff walk from Abereiddy round the headland to the Blue Lagoon. Monday was an early start for some who fancied a trip to see the puffins and flowers on Skomer Island. Others went for a cycle to Solva, pottered on the beach at Newgale and had a paddle on the way home.
We were up for tea and coffee at 6am followed by a massive breakfast at 7am – fruit salad with granola, scrambled, egg, fried veg, toast and a selection of peanut butter, jam and marmalade (which also came out every lunch time with salt, pepper, ketchup and chilli sauce). Drinking water had been prepared over night for us to fill our water bottles with a choice of squash. With the camp packed up and the rafts loaded by 8.30am we were told the line as we went straight into the first named rapid of the trip. The big holes were relatively easy to avoid and we were soon all safely down and playing in the bottom wave while waiting for the rafts to catch up. Then, while the vultures circled overhead we set off down the river. The scenery was great and the water was getting bigger as we paddled up to a new rapid formed by a recent avalanche which will now be known as ‘Keep Right or Get Munched’. We paddled for about 3.5hrs until lunch – plenty of biscuits, bread, beans, coleslaw, spaghetti in a dressing and oranges. We continued for another couple of hours before setting up camp and tucking into prawn crackers and hot drinks. Just before dinner (veg curry) was a rain storm so the guides quickly assembled shelters from oars and tarps. After dinner we sat out by the campfire used to burn the rubbish from the last 2 days before heading off to bed. While collecting wood the guides also put rocks on our tent pegs, they could tell a few squalls might pass us while the odd rumble of thunder could be heard some distance away. With more rain overnight the river lived up to its name and was turned gold by morning with the runoff soil from upstream. After the first full day on the river we'd covered nearly 20 miles and had an introduction to the friendly local villagers, some big water (along with the first few swims) and it was big smiles all round.
We were off at 5.30am in 3 taxis racing through Kathmandu to the Paddle Nepal bus. Slightly over shooting our driver doubled back straight into the on coming traffic with a honk of the horn…pretty standard driving for Kathmandu! The bus was quickly loaded and then we were off on the first bouncy ride of the holiday, climbing out of Kathmandu past the Buddha on the hill. After about 3hrs we made a breakfast stop. Sugary coffee/spicy tea, boiled egg and a spicy chickpea mix self assembled in a wrap. Finished off with a sugary donut – yum! On we went through little villages to the get in, which required some off roading by the bus down a rather steep makeshift slope. The kit was unloaded and the rafts assembled with the bus’ roof racks suddenly turning into the centre pieces to take the oars. While we changed the driver took the opportunity to wash the bus in the river, where he parked to keep the tyres cool. We paddled off and were soon through a couple of wave trains, which at this point in the holiday felt quite big. After an hour we stopped for lunch and had our lesson in the rigorous hand and dish washing procedure. Biscuits went round while the loaves were sliced, coleslaw was freshly prepared and beans were served with bananas and the choice of orange or lemon squash to follow. We had a few more hours paddling through tiny villages and bouncy wave trains where we saw monkeys on the bank and vultures in the air, before arriving at camp – nicely positioned at the top of what looked like quite an intimidating rapid known as Meat Grinder. We were shown how to put up our tents while dinner was prepared. A spicy popcorn starter followed by mountains of spag bol was very welcome. Soon after sunset at 7pm we had an early night falling asleep to the sound of the rapid that awaited us in the morning.
You might be interested to know that you can sign up (free) with the Channel Coastal Observatory to have email alerts when the waves exceed certain conditions.
There are a number of buoys on the network with one at Gwynt y Mor in Liverpool Bay. Go to the link below and click on the “Alerts system – receive custom alerts from the observatory” option. You can then set a wave height and/or wave period to trigger an email when the sea state reaches that level.