CSCC Reports 2009: Mid Wales - March 2009
On 20-22nd March 2009 we returned to mid-Wales for a relaxing spot of white water/touring. Beth, Bridget, Hils, Amelia, Pete, Stewart, Chris, Martin and Dan J. were able to make the trip up to Welshpool from London. Diane was already on the spot.
On the Saturday we paddled on the River Vyrnwy, launching at Pontsgawrhyd (accessing the river over private land with the permission of the owner) and getting off at the road bridge immediately before the Shropshire Union canal aqueduct. Overall the conditions were probably grade 2; there were no big drops, but there were some sharp turns where you had to put in a few strong paddle strokes to get out of the main flow to avoid being taken near submerged tree branches.
The river was less fun for sheep, however - we saw plenty of floating corpses - and when Chris and Diane spotted two pathetic looking blind creatures cowering on a ledge they sprung into action, getting out of their boats to affect a rescue. Dan J. cheered them on loudly as the sheep were plucked from the water. Unfortunately as this rescue was in progress Martin was having to perform one of his own as the rest of the group waited downstream. Whoops!
At one point I was worried that it would take until midnight to reach our destination, progress was so slow, but the flow of the river picked up noticeably after the confluence with the River Cain. This was a very enjoyable day's paddling and not easy to better.
On the Sunday we tackled the River Severn from Pool Quay to the road bridge at Llandrinio. There was an early bit of excitement with a rapid, which we played in for a few minutes, but that gave way to much more placid conditions and the only hazards were overhanging tree branches. That did mean that we had plenty of opprtunities for spotting wildlife and saw a couple of kingfishers, loads of buzzards and the odd freshwater mussel (a sign of good water quality?) The river meanders incredibly tightly close to Breidden Hill, so you have the odd sensation of going round at round in circles. The bridge at our get-out was a good place for practising ferry glides, but after paddling so many miles in white water boats few had the energy left.
We were lucky to have some lovely spring sunshine throughout the weekend. This made our lunch stops and Amelia's adventures a lot more enjoyable, but we slightly regretted not travelling to Wales earlier in March. Low water levels meant we were unable to paddle on the River Banwy. Between Llanfair and Meifod is our favourite stretch of river in the area for mixed ability groups. The Tanat is less good and choked with trees, although it is more scenic than the stretch of the Seven which we paddled this time.
We stayed at Tynllwywn Farm (as in previous years). The B & B is excellent value at £40 per night for a single room and £29 for sharers (a self catering cottage is £70). The rooms are huge, spotlessly clear and with nice warm showers. The lounge has a real log fire and a large TV (it was the final weekend of the Six Nations). Mrs Emberton is a great cook and David Emberton is a very polite and attentive host.
We went for dinner at the Raven public house which is a twenty minute walk along the Welshpool road from Tynllwywn (it's a fast road, so it's sensible to wear reflective clothing and to wear a head torch). This pub is warmly recommended; the food portions are huge and the quality very good. The bar staff were friendly even to non-locals.
It was great to see Diane, Ian and Jake again. They are so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country!
Chris's photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/35276102@N07/sets/72157615973996680/
Stewart's photos - http://www.civilservicecanoeclub.org.uk/csccgallery/thumbnails.php?album=15
Bridget's photos: http://s280.photobucket.com/albums/kk181/bgwllm/MidWales0903/