Archive for February, 2011

12
Feb

South Wales- The Middle Tawe

After our blast down the Nant Clydach we headed over to the Swansea Valley to hop on the Middle Tawe from Pen-y-Cae to Abercraf. We were met with primo levels and I’ve heard this run just gets better and better at higher and higher water. It wasn’t all pleasantries however as a local angling club had installed a slightly offensive sign at the get in.

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Photo: No canoeing

Kayakers are NOT liable to prosecution and our NGB, Canoe Wales, promotes open access to the rivers, while respecting the spawning seasons of course. I later found out that while we were on the water some other boaters had their tyres slashed in Abercraf.

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Photo: Iain on the first slide

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Photo: Iain on slide number 3

There are several slides at the beginning of this stretch and the 5 km of white water was pumping super fast. The scenery was quite amazing and with several tributaries running there were waterfalls aplenty.

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Photo: Waterfall just before the ledge drop

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Photo: Sam after the ledge drop

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Photo: Sam on the rapid after the ledge drop

I wish I’d been wearing a helmet cam so I could show the amount of air we were getting off some of the wave trains- ladies and gentlemen fasten your seat belts please ;-) . We couldn’t justify driving all the way to Wales with such good levels for one run so Iain, Chris and I got a second run in in less than 30 minutes. Not bad- 3 river sections in one action packed day.

06
Feb

South Wales-A Taff Tributary

The rivers and tributaries of the South Wales valleys offer a host of entertaining runs to the whitewater aficionado but the key ingredient for a high-quality day on these rivers -i.e. rain- has been in short supply over the last few months.

Last Monday Metcheck informed me that there would be 41 mm falling in Swansea on Thursday and Friday. As I began planning an assault on the homeland rivers, I eagerly tracked the Pontneddfechan river level gauge daily to see if the aforementioned precipitation would actually materialise. Final check at 6 am on Saturday told me game on!

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Photo: Chris C. at the get in.

Chris P. and I headed to the hills to meet up with Chris C., Sam and Iain at our first port of call- a Taff valley tributary  in the form of the Nant Clydach. This very attractive yet distinctly urban creek (complete with associated detritus) located between Pontypridd and Ynys-y-Bwl offers about 500 m of class 4 pool drop. Sharing an eddy with oil cans, discarded bikes, empty coke bottles, and other such flotsam and jetsam are unfortunately par for the course.

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Photo: Chris P.  on the first drop

We arrived to spy extremely low flow conditions (or ELF to quote Mr Westgarth) but the river was still worth every paddlestroke. After a few bouldery bits the slot drop appeared. Chris C. hopped out to to inspect and decided to walk as it looked a bit low. I however thought that it would go and so I ran it.

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Photo by Chris C. Me on the lead in to the slot

I knew I would get pushed left and anticipated that, but I what I didnt bargain for was a momentary pin. Coincidentally, a rather large tree branch that was apparently re-circualting in the drop decided to make an appearance over my back deck and left shoulder. I gave just a few paddle strokes and I was free of the pin and tree branch but after seeing that everyone else rather wisely opted for the portage.

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Photo by Chris C. An out of focus me going through the slot

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Photo: Chris and Sam inspect for wood on the next drop

A few more drops then the nice 12 foot slide

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Photo: Iain on a small slide

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Photo: Chris squared

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Photo: Sam on the last fun rapid.

The Nant Clydach is a great warm-up blast for other rivers in the area and totally worth the 10 minute drive form my parents house. A bit more water would have been great but beggars most definitely can’t be choosers in the driest of winters.