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River Dee in Open Canoes

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River Dee in Open Canoes

It had rained a lot and rivers were high so lots of options were considered for the 31st December paddle. The Seiont, Lune, River Dee, River Goyt and other less serious options were all discussed. Overnight, the rain from the previous day showed a small but steep spike in the gauge and we were a little worried about how high it might eventually go with the ground being fully saturated. However, by morning it had dropped back to yesterday`s levels.

Corwen River Gauge

We met at the Ponsonby Arms to transfer boats onto a couple of cars and then on the way up to Corwen we left one at the Pavilion / Eisteddfod Car Park. This run can be done even when the river is too high to paddle other sections. We put on at Corwen bridge using the public footpath gate next to the bridge, The river was high (bankfull) but not through any trees on the bank.

The rapids were not as washed out as we had expected and the waves would have been fun, even in a kayak. The smooth V-shaped wave next to the no canoeing sign which is the usual playspot was totally washed out at this level. We had not realised that we had passed it until we were well past the lunch spot. We stopped for a warm drink a few hundered metres down stream but the useful fisherman`s bench was surrounded by water and could only be used by those with wellington boots on!

Horseshoe Falls could be heard from a longway back

The last two rapids were interesting but with absolutely no rocks to be seen. Horseshoe Falls could be heard from a longway back. We approach the only small eddy available on the river left, one at a time, and portaged around using the muddy path. The weir had a 3m+ towback and although you could probably just get down past the debrie / trees on the chicken chute on the left, the main weir deserved respect. Several deaths have occured here in the past. as once caught in the towback, swimmers and paddlers would end up in the middle of weir as its C-Shape naturally moves you that way. The middle of the weir is unreachable by even the longest 30m+ Alpine throwlines.

We put on the Llangollen Canal which was flowing strongly. Ian usefully let go of Nikki`s boat but as we were getting out to inspect Serpents a little later anyway it did not matter that it drifted off downstream. There were very large stoppers and play waves at chainbridge but at this level there really wasn`t any drops in the main channel at Serpents Tail. You could have paddled over the rocks where people usally stand to safety on the infamous grade 3 rapid.

We carried on down the Canal to Eisteddfod Car Park. On the way home we enjoyed a meal in the Sun Inn at Trevor.