Glyndwfrdwy to Horseshoe Falls – Improvers White Water Solo Open Canoes by Zoe Maynard 21st August 2021
Thanks to Martin and Nikki Aldridge for organising and leading a fantastic improvers day out – and it was a long one – about 7 hours paddling in total!
We met at the field above the put-in and unloaded all the kit. There were going to be 8 of us in the group, all in solo canoe. After a little discussion, the decision was made to move the cars to the Royal International Pavilion in Llangollen (with a little stop at Horseshoe Falls car park on the way).
Getting back to the put in, those left behind had started to move the boats closer to the river to speed things up a bit. Before getting on the water there was a brief from Martin and Nikki about hand signals and what to do if we fell out of our canoe. We put on one at a time and, while waiting for others to join us, those already on the water had a bit of a warm-up ferry gliding across the river and back.
When everyone was on the water, we set off down the river to our first rapid. The river level was very low so we were all scraping the bottom in places. I got stuck on a rock (as did others) but with a bit of bum shuffling managed to release the boat and head on down the rapid.
At the bottom we had some fun ferry gliding and practicing breaking in and breaking out. Great fun putting previous training into practice. This set the tone for the rest of the day – a drop followed by skills practice. The leading was great with encouragement given where required.
After lunch we headed to the grade 3- where we all managed to get down without an incident – it was great fun. The rapid itself was not that technical, but line-of-sight was a concern, so Nikki positioned herself in an eddy halfway down the rapid, with Martin at the bottom and a member of the group at the top. This meant that we could relay signals from the leaders to the rest of the group.
A bit further on, after another rapid, we were able to all do some poling practice. Something quite new for me as I’ve never been that confident standing in a canoe … weight loss has really helped with that!
When we reached Horseshoe Falls, we got off the river and portaged the boats to the canal to head back to the cars.
A fab day out with a little rain (but not a drenching), a little wind (but not blowing a hooley) practicing skills I honestly wasn’t sure of before and I think we all came away feeling more confident. I know what I need to work on – my flat-water J-stroke has definite issues!