After Hannah and Craig left us on Sunday morning 15 paddlers got on the water at Llangurig to begin our second trip on the River Wye. This time we would be finishing our paddle at the point where we started yesterday’s paddle in the middle of Rhayader below the grade four feature. (more of that later).
We split into three groups of five with the “canary” group of Mark, Stuart T, Leanne, Sarah and Stuart C setting off first. Next was our group with Kirk, Chris M, Ollie, Craig F and Alexsander. Bringing up the rear was the third group of Keith, John, Chris T, Jenny and Sean.
The River Wye on this section was 18k of read and run grade 2/3 however the recent persistent rainfall had resulted in the levels being higher than normal. This meant that the first part of the day was largely spent picking our way through the overhanging trees. The lengthy flat sections were interrupted every now again by the grade three drops which were pretty friendly for the most part but a couple of them did provide a few problems.
The first of these involved a fallen tree that was blocking the exit to a left-hand feature. We decided safety first was the best policy and portaged. After a scramble across the bank we got back in our boats and paddled back up the tree to take a closer look. The obstruction had also collected a section of fencing complete with barbed wire which we couldn’t see from the bank. The portage was a good call after all.
The other troublesome feature had a sharp drop with a hole on river right and a better approach river left but with one or two large rocks to negotiate.
The canary team went first and unfortunately chose the wrong route resulting in a swim for Mark and Stuart C and a nifty roll in the hole from Sarah. After watching them sacrifice themselves for team the rest of us were able to pick a more successful route.
After a few more drops and we eventually neared the town and my thoughts were turning to the only grade 4 feature on the river. This was the last drop after the bridge in the centre of Rhayader. After providing much of the previous evening’s entertainment following a very long and very avoidable swim the day before, I was determined to get through this last feature unscathed. I managed it successfully but other weren’t so lucky. Craig who had stayed dry for nearly two full days chose this moment to leave his boat within meters of the finish line and Stuart C took his second swim of the day although his first had resulted in broken glasses so fair enough, he was paddling blind after all!
The drama wasn’t completely over as Ollie managed to find himself upside in some trees after trying to help one of the swimmers get to the bank. Luckily, he was able to roll up.
We headed back to the bunkhouse to get changed and to grab a quick cuppa before heading home. A great weekend in a great bunkhouse which I’m sure we will be heading back to in the near future.