Meeting at the scout hut were Simon, Jen, Rach, Phil, Ben, Joe.H and myself. We had boats loaded in record time, fish and chips for dinner, then we set off for Wales to meet up with Glyn and Helen. Our usual bunkhouses were booked so we took a chance on somewhere new which turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Not the cheapest place we've used but it was clean, tidy and had an unlimited supply of boiling water for tea and coffee so I was happy.

Talybont to Llangynidr

We had a leisurely 10am start, and we met Mike, Sophie, Joe and Mark at the get in at Talybont. We also had Chris (who used to paddle with us almost a decade ago) meet up with us so there were 14 of us on the water. We decided to split up into two groups, Jen, Ben, Joe.H, Chris and myself went off ahead so that we were not in the way of the coaches and trainees. The first section above Mill Falls was fairly uneventful. The river was quite fast moving but there were very few features so we sat there bimbling along, chatting and enjoying the scenery. After an excellent lunch stop the other group caught up with us so we decided to dash off ahead and recce Mill Falls.

Mill Falls had a bit more water than usual which meant that there were a couple of different lines to take down the drop. We each tried a couple of routes before pausing for our second lunch stop. I was pretty worn out from carrying my boat back to the top each time but Joe.H was like the Duracell bunny, he was on a mission to get as many runs in as possible and take every available line down the falls.

As many of you know I'm not the biggest fan of open canoes, for me its kayaks all the way, but I did manage to offend a few open paddlers by expressing my perhaps overzealous opinion while they stood behind me surveying the drop......oops.

Once we got all 14 of us down the falls safely (with no swimmers) we continued down to our get out at Llangynidr, just in time to get changed in the rain! Joe and Mark decided to cut their trip short because of a rugby injury of Joe's causing him problems. The rest of us went back to the bunkhouse for showers and then back to Talybont for excellent pub grub at The White Hart, where we spent quite a while watching X Factor with the sound off, which seems to be the best way to watch it.

Sennybridge to Aberbran

The clocks went back so we had extra hour in bed, yay! Joe had explained how his bunk bed was engraved with an evil curse stating that the reader would experience much unpleasantness administered by a black nun. Quite bemused we all wondered what this could mean......

There were only 11 of us left today, Simon, Jen, Rach, Phil, Glyn, Helen, Mike, Sophie, Ben, Joe.H and myself. We headed for our 'secret' get in a couple of clicks above Sennybridge, which gave us the benefit of an additional drop and a section of rapids. This additional drop looked quite intimidating, perhaps due to the heavy rain we had observed over night. There was much discussion about how to tackle this drop as there was no easy option apparent. The best line appeared to be via the big green tongue and into a stonking great stopper! Most of the group didn't fancy starting the day with this challenge but Simon led the way and showed us how it's done. Joe.H, Jen and I followed with some degree of success. Joe was not content though, so with his never depleted energy supply headed back to the top

for a second run. Unfortunately the stopper wasn't to let him off so lightly this time, he got well and truly munched by what is now named 'The Black Nun'. Making a valiant attempt to stay in his boat he tried to roll several times but ultimately a swim was inevitable. I thought at this point the excitement was over and it would be a simple rescue but as Joe tried to swim downstream the stopper pulled him back in and under the water out of sight. Watching him get munched round and round made me realise how powerful even this small river can be. Fortunately Simon was on the case like a flash, presenting the front of his boat for Joe to grab hold of and towing him out. Once Joe was safely on the bank Simon explained our options for retrieving the boat which was still tumbling around in the stopper. The recovery turned out to be straight forward as I managed to reach out to it from the bank while Joe supported me by my buoyancy aid.

Once the excitement was over we proceeded down some excellent rapids, eddy hopping all the way. A more tricky section of rapids could be seen ahead so my group stopped and waited to give a heads up to the coaches. It was decided that we would each take an eddie and the trainees would hop down to each of us one at a time, good plan but unfortunately Jen had a slightly less elegant break in, resulting in a capsize and swim. Apparently she was just testing her dry suit and wanted to practise her newly acquired white water safety and rescue swimming skills.

The next 'big' drop is just after Sennybridge. There were two obvious lines down. One was an easy set up with a nice boof, the other has a fairly tricky ferry glide in order to set up correctly but had a fun shoot to take. Unfortunately Mike attempted the ferry glide but the water was fast and he capsized above the drop. He ended up going down a rocky section in the capsized position, hitting his chin on a rock resulting in a big cut and a disintegrated tooth, awch! This looked pretty nasty. A bit of first aid with gaffa tape and we were back on our way.

The next drop was pretty straight forward, a nice boofing drop which we all had several attempts at. Realising that we didn't have too much daylight left we continued to our final drop. There was a little more water than expected here with a powerful tow back. Rach was the first victim with a horrific swim, the powerful hydraulic pulled her under the water, she disappeared out of sight for what seemed like ages. Simon conducted a text book throw line rescue and even managed to snap a picture too. Helen and I went to retrieve boat and paddles. Glyn was the next victim, and a failed boof saw him take a bath.

Just a few minutes further down was our 'secret' get out, avoiding the need to paddle the flat section all the way to Aberbran. There was a pub meal on the way home for some of us, but Mike decided that a trip to the JR might be more appropriate for him!

Join us on the next trip to the Dart later in the month.

- Liam

Photos by Jen and Mike.

Have a look at at Glynn's photos and video too.