CUCC Beginners Trip 2015

Getting ready to get on the water

On the last weekend of October a group of 22 paddlers headed up to South Wales to go boating. For many of the paddlers this would be their first ever time paddling on whitewater so we were hoping for decent water levels. Unfortunately, due to a lack of sufficient rain almost everything in the area was quite low, but we stuck with the original plan and paddled the River Usk from Sennybridge to Aberbran bridge, a classic section of grade 2 with three grade 2+/3 ledge drops on the way down. After a fairly faff free shuttle and a comprehensive safety brief we split off into our respective groups and set off down the river.

After plenty of thrills and spills and a few swims later we reached the take out just in time for lunch, and all the beginners were grinning having paddled such a great section for the morning. Forbes managed to crash his drone over lunch time which provided some light lunchbreak entertainment (and some great video footage). Most of the group then shuttled back to the top to do another lap; as the river was dropping all day there were a few more rocks uncovered in the afternoon which made for some interesting dodges and last minute manoeuvres. The great thing about the afternoon was that we shortened the run a little so that we could have more time to play at the drops and everybody managed at least a few runs of each of the three drops.

The leaders spent the evening debating where we should paddle for the Sunday and eventually the decision was made to spend Sunday morning on Symond’s Yat on the River Wye, which is a manmade section of grade 2 but faster flowing than the Usk which would provide the ideal location to drill breaking in and out, ferrygliding and practicing those whitewater rolls! Admittedly there were a lot of swims and a lot of carnage but everybody had a good time and it was nice to see such progress being made in the relatively little space of time we had.

Once the beginners had had enough of swimming it was the turn of the leaders, or at least those with drysuits on. We spent a good hour practicing rescue skills by arming the first-time paddlers with throwbags and teaching them how to rescue the leaders who acted as casualties. Everybody got a chance to practice throwlining, live-baiting and drop-bagging and thankfully we managed not to lose any personal equipment, although there were a few close calls! I had a great time watching everybody improve as the weekend went on, and the rivers were much better than I expected too. I’d like to say thanks to all the paddlers for being really enthusiastic and up for a challenge, thanks to the other leaders for helping the trip run so seamlessly and a big thanks to Forbes for organizing the trip.

Shahid Wahab

Here’s what some of our other paddlers had to say:

“The first day of the beginner's trip was a good chance to get used to moving water again over the course of two runs down a pretty empty Usk after a summer on the Cam. Sunday was more exciting, with the chance to work our way up and down a short section of white water called Symond’s Yat, followed by some rescue practice. The paddling was hard work, and I caught a couple of scrapes and bruises during the rescue practice, but came out of it a lot more confident.”

Kai Wohlfahrt

“It was an amazing trip. I really enjoyed the three drops as well as the lovely weather in the first day. In the second day I had a lot of fun learning and practising rescue skills. Quite happy that I didn't swim. Thanks for organising an amazing trip!!!”

Zekang Cheng

"I thoroughly enjoyed the white water kayaking experience during the beginner’s white water trip. It gave me a chance to learn some new kayaking skills especially tackling the rapids which built my confidence about being on a white water. Moreover the coaching and demonstrations throughout the trip were well done, perhaps most importantly the teaching of rescue operations. Besides, one thing that I appreciate most about the trip was the way it was organised which made the entire journey very smooth"

Srivigneshwar Prasad