Symonds Yat

We met at 8am on a Sunday morning. Wide eyed and focused we set about strapping the boats to the roofs of the cars with gusto. We then ran out of gusto and had to make do with some nice straps provided by Simon.

The party was made up of 2 coaches, Simon and Gwylim, 2 drivers Becks and Simon and 4 eager learner paddlers, Rich, Andy, Becks and George. This made about 6 of us and with kit stowed away we were ready to go. Many calls were made along the lines of.. 'have you got everything?' A sensible last minute check is always a good thing. The journey was a masterclass in safe and responsible driving and was generally uneventful.

We arrived in beautiful sunshine to a busy Symonds Yat. It was clear that people were making the most of the sun and kayakers and canoeists were out in force. We unloaded and prepared ourselves in our own special way. We had also parked in the most exposed part of the car park and therefore it was not only Rich that copped an eyeful as we all delicately changed.

We were about to set off in to the river Wye when Gwylim announced that he had forgotten to bring his buoyancy aid. While Simon laughed uncontrolably Gwyl shot off to the shop to hire himself an old red thing that was quite clearly on its last legs. After Simon had calmed down the team descended on the Yat full of cheery optimism.

The paddling was immensely good fun but a challenge for moving water virgins. The sun was out as we dodged from eddy to eddy ferry gliding past the other groups of eager kayakers. The cries of 'SWIMMER' began to increase as the day progressed and ISIS (lead by George) managed to contribute our fair share of spills. There is nothing quite like the feeling of being thrown down the rapids knowing that you have to climb back the 60 meters once you have been rescued, collected and emptied your boat and found your paddle. Andy managed to stave of the float of shame with some style.

Gwylim and Simon spent a considerable time rescuing swimmers from other parties and the odd canoe. At one point Simon was patching up a substantial hole in a canoe with his gaffa tape and swiss army hands.

After lunch a fleet of canoes piloted by gang of half cut imbeciles approached the Yat at high speed. The first vessel was a complete disaster as they hit the first rock and spilled. While we sorted their boat out others fished them out of the water and collected their things. The second and third made it down successfully yet recklessly but the fourth and fifth we not so lucky. With the usual kakayers capsising there were 4 canoes, 4 kayaks, over 10 people, flipflops, barrels, towels, hats, balloons, paddles and a cucumber floating down Wye. Chaos.

They all made it off safely and failed to thank their handsome rescuers for their considerable efforts.

The day moved on and energy levels started to lag. Gwylim was personally summoned from the river to return his 100 year old buoyancy aid so we paddled back to the car park. A fine pint of beer followed in a fine pub in a fine part of the world before we headed off to Oxford. We stopped off at the Hungry Horse for some well deserved food. The food was unsettlingly cheap and came in enormous potions. Simon's portion was especially impressive as the center piece of his mixed grill was an unconventionally long sausage. Simon then forgot he was the chairmen of the club and also forgot that each trip comes with a write up and began to attempt to eat the sausage in one go without biting it. Many bad and unpleasant jokes were made by dinners and waiters until finally Simon finished the illogically large sausage. After the unpleasantness we quietly slipped out of the Hungry Horse and made for Oxford..

A great time was had by all on a beautiful day. We left with a taste for more white water and more sausages. We will see you on the Usk!

- George

Photos by Simon and George