It started off as a most auspicious day - a 7-30am start and Janet was early. The omens were good. All eight of us, Ed (our glorious leader), Rene, Neil, Janet, Jon, Dave, Gareth and myself were soon packed up and off to Wales for some proper paddling. The weather forecast was good: warm and a slight chance of rain. Needless to say it was tipping it down most of the way, especially on poor Shrewsbury. But the good old BBC got it right, and hardly a drop was seen all day at the river... until we got changed at the end... but that's Wales for you. We arrived at one possible get-in, but were put off by the University of Lancaster paddlers, who not only had driven further... there were more of them... and they had radios. We just couldn't compete, so we drove along one of those little white roads on the map to a get-in of our own. My views on little white (minor) Wales roads is that they should be re-coloured brown - certainly thats's what colour Dave and Janets cars were by the time we got to Pont L - our new get-in. The first half of the trip was relatively uneventful, apart from Jon seemed to start off on the wrong foot, having confidently packed his camera, but forgot his memory card. It all a little down hill for Jon after that. The first half of the river to the 'weir' was relatively flat with just the odd grade 2 section, no major upsets, the scenery was beautiful, the company good, so all was well. The 'weir' turned out to be a grade 6 type monstrosity, so we all walked it. Then came (please imagine a roll of drums at this point)...THE GORGE... Although the water level was probably low, this was most definitely grade 3 in places, but beware on future trips, in that it changes character with water levels. Ask Ed. It certainly enlivened up our day. The river basically was a drop (or set of drops) separated by small bouncy water. The group split into cliques. Ed, Dave and Janet scouted, Rene, Jon, Gareth and Neil seemed to paddle close together for moral support, and I hung back to watch the antics in front. Rene did less than superb drop down one of the early weirs, but a superb whitewater roll after, looking a little shaken afterwards – GOOD JOB, as he just got on with paddling afterwards. Dave seemed to pin fairly regularly on rocks nobody else had spotted. Ed and Janet seemed to take everything in their stride. But Jon wanted the full Wales experience: He pinned, tree-hugged (swam), and swam on the most committing 3-drop section of the river. But again a real trooper, as he just got back in the boat and carried on. On the way back it was still raining in Shrewsbury, but we didn't care, as all were content. And quote of the day comes, of course, from Jon (sorry!!!!)... Asked if he was OK after his weir related swim, he said, in his best Forest Gump voice “I got bruised in by Butt-t-tocks !!!”. Many thanks for Ed for organising, Dave and Janet for driving, and all for a splendid day.
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