River Usk

Day One

An early start, we were all ready and out of the bunkhouse door by 9:30. We were the first group at the put- in which was good as soon after all the university clubs started pitching up in their droves. On the water Simon started us 3* trainees on some basics, practicing ferry glides. He must have thought he was in for a long day as Peter capsized and swam, capsized and swam and repeated one more time for good measure. With our confidence raised we started downstream, continuing to practise breaking-out and breaking-in as we went.

We spent some time surfing with Simon offering £10 to the first person who could paddle back up to the top, to my disappointment he wouldn't concede £5 for my exhausting effort to reach half way.

We stopped for lunch at Mill Falls to let Simon explain the line we would be taking. Back in the boats we grouped up allowing Helen to go first so she wouldn't have time to think about what she was about to do. We all reached the bottom without incident and were keen to give it another go. Ben and Peter opted for the same route although they both managed to beach themselves on a rock. I thought the bigger water looked more interesting so Simon explained where I should head towards as he wanted to do something a bit more extreme. I aimed 1.5 meters to the right of Simon as instructed and paddled like crazy, went over the drop and I promptly capsized and exited my boat, Simon then convinced me to let go of my boat and paddle and the next thing I remembered was a rope landing across my body - thanks to Liam who needed help to pull me to the bank. Practising throwlines outside the hut does not compare to that experience!

We enjoyed some more big bouncy water where Jen had an altercation with a submerged rock, giving us an opportunity to practise a rescue. We stopped off on a rock in the middle of the river where we practised some throwline work and practised another rescue before reaching the get-out.

Thanks to the patience of Simon, Jen, Gwylim and Liam, the 3* white water trainees each had an instructive and fun day out on the river. Back at the bunk house we enjoyed a few games of chess, snakes and ladders and backgammon broken up with an excellent meal in the attached pub. Before an early night followed by an early start for day two...

Day Two

The temperature had definatly dropped. The drying room had sufficiently sweated my neopreen to give the sensation of wearing a used mop and we headed for the Upper section of the Usk. We headed to a secluded get in up stream - the ice on the gate suggested yet another tropical weekend in wales. We got in and successfully negotiated our first drop of the day.

We meandered down through the beautiful welsh countryside until the formidable yell of "eddy out" by Simon. Although not always wholey precise hitting the advised eddy, and often ending up in a tree, we all eddyed out above what appeared to be a perfectly harmless bend. However as we got out and meandered down, a narrow short rapid consisting of trees and rocks emerged. We were given our demonstrations and off we set - the photo's best summarise the events that ensued!

Again we meandered down and stopped for a well deserved lunch. Liam and Gwylim set up their sandwich station (men who rely heavily on a full stomach) and after a spectaucular chocolate button explosion we carried on. Another drop followed, and as Gwylim checked the drop he took an unexpected detour into a hole, in accordance with our other coaches, we all laughed until he emerged a short time later.

Another successful drop, another meander and then the final drop - beuatifully mastered by all involved. As we finished the final section, we had all shown great improvement, Pete - a master of edging, Ben - the chief of eddy's, Matt - king of leading and me, kayak snack supreme!

As we drove home weary but happy - the 3* team were in good spirits! Thank you to our patient leaders, Simon, Gwyl, Jen & Liam and here's to the next trip!!!

- Matt and Helen

Photos by Jen.