River Dee Christmas 2002

River Dee After much deliberation about whether to go on the trip or not, because of raised water levels, at about 12.30am, after a party, my friend James and I decided to go straight to Llangollen and not wait 'til the morning. Because of the late hour, there was no traffic, and all was well, until we look the M5 south instead of north, and later, having stopped at a service station, we couldn't find the way out and went three times round the car park until we finally escaped! We finally arrived in Llangollen at 3.30am, and holding our breath, looked at town falls. Expecting a raging, unpaddleable torrent, it was by comparison, a mere trickle, the same as when I had paddled in November. We parked in the Sports Hall car park, reclined the seats, and went to sleep. We rose at 8.30 am, bushed our teeth and went to Chaine Bridge. There, we met 6 other canoeists from Leeds Univ., with whom we arranged to shuttle and paddle. We were then accosted by a raving cameraman, who commanded our attention for a while. Steadily freezing, without even having been on the river, we eventually detached ourselves and got ourselves waterborn. As this was James' first river trip, he was horrified, when he found himself plunging down Serpent's Tail! He went over, but rolled impeccably, but unfortunately, got caught by the stopper at the bottom and had to come out of his boat. I was right there, but was not needed, as he was conveniently swept into an eddy.

All this was captured by the camera man , who had stealthily been tailing us! We then continued down and I discovered that James was not familiar with the word eddy! After having found this out we did a little bit of practice! The rest of the trip was uneventful. We surfed a few waves, blasted a few stoppers and ended up doing the Chicken Chute run down the left of Town Falls. After this, being absolutely frozen, James got out and took some 'photos. I did the stretch again, with a different group and another shuttle. This time, we ran the Falls on the right hand side. Although it would ordinarally have been nice to have played and surfed the water features,an extreme ice cream head was not desired by anyone, so we bombed straight down.

By now, it was time to hit the pubs! We then found, to our dismay, that the pathalogical cameraman was in the pub as well! But we could not make a sharp exit, as we were half way through a game of pool and therefore had to endure a 45 min. non-stop talk about cameras! Escaping, we went to the Bridge End pub and met others we had encountered earlier. We met two big local lads who were rather sending us up and saying we had to be stupid to canoe at all and in particular in such cold weather, but fortunately, they werne't too serious in spoiling for a fight. We were edging away, when, to our utmost horror, in walked the dreaded cameraman! He spotted us from the other side of the pub and before we could make a hasty getaway, had cornered us around the pool table! There followed another gruelling 30 minutes lecture about cameras. In the end, we got rid of him by promising to buy the video footage he had taken. We then found a kayak party in full swing, but it was £6 to go in. As there would have been only an hour left, we decided it wasn't worth it and retired to the car. Next morning, I awoke and realised I could see absolutely nothing - everything was hazy. I wondered if I was still suffering from the night before. But it was that the inside of the car had turned to a huge block of ice! After having thawed out the car, I opened it to find two canoe -shaped blocks of ice on top of the car as well.

We had arranged to paddle another river with our compadres of the previous day. But half hadn't made it out of bed and the other half had found that the temperature was 5 degrees below that of the previous day. We decided to call it a day. So with one thought in mind, it was now the coffee shop, then the tea shop, then home!

- Kieran Terry