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Thread: Around Wales by kayak and canoe.

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    Default Around Wales by kayak and canoe.



    I had trained some of the staff of the Glanllyn Outdoor Centre for a sea kayak crossing of the Irish Sea. This they accomplished. Two years later Arwel asked if I would be interested in leading a group on a circumnavigation of Wales. I readily agreed. It was to be the biggest trip I have ever guided/led. Rob Egelstaff and I had done the first circumnavigation by a paddle craft some eighteen years ago; we had done the whole trip in canoe. This time we would do the inland section in canoe and the sea in sea kayaks.



    We started from Aberaeron on the last day of May and headed north. We had some rough water on the second day with low cloud and rain. By day's end we had good sun and the surf had dropped right off.



    Throughout the journey we would either be landing or launching at low water so where possible we used trollies to shift the boats.



    This is six miles off the coast and Alun's paddle is touching bottom. This is Sarn Baldrig (St Patrick's Road) that runs some fourteen miles out to sea. It may have given rise to the legends of the lost lands and the ill maintained dikes. It is in fact the lateral moraine of the massive glacier that ran westwards from the mountains of Snowdonia. We were part way into a sixteen mile open crossing.





    We did get some time to explore as we waited for the tide to turn.



    A tide running against us was always a good excuse for a break.





    Campsites would vary from the sublime to the bizarre. Here I am pitched up just below the old lighthouse on Llanwyn Island. We did end up in a scrapheap on one occasion.



    This is the tide race at Penryhnmawr on Anglesey. This is during a neap tide on a calm day. I have been here on BIG days and it becomes monstrous. On this occasion it was big and fast enough to be fun without being intimidating.



    There were occasions when the landing was too rough for trollies and we resorted to using carrying straps. Normally it was all four of us but taking photos is a great excuse for a rest. Unfortunately this was quickly sussed by the others.



    This is the seal colony on Puffin Island (SE corner of Anglesey). A gentle start to what would turn out to be a brutal day. The forecast was for the winds to strengthen to Force 4/5 or stronger. We were part way into a long crossing to the Great Orme when is started. Off the Orme we had one of the biggest seas of the trip and I was not sparing a hand to take photos. All of us were using the occasional support stroke. We ran along the coast towards Rhyl as the wind strengthened and sea became an awkward quartering battering from the rear.



    Just before Rhyl there was a small area dunes sandwiched between the sea wall and a housing estate. The decision was made to land and any camp would have to do. We hit lucky and once set up were undisturbed. Better still a chip shop and supermarket were within five minutes walk.



    The next day took us up the Dee Estuary to Chester. It was the one area I didn't have a nautical chart for and ended up following the wrong set of buoys. To rejoin the main channel we resorted to dragging through shallows for over a mile.



    In Chester we were met by Richard from Outdoor Active. He was taking our sea kayaks and kit and providing us with two stunning kevlar We no nah boats. After the first two hundred miles on the sea we now faced two hundred miles of canal and river. In these canoes I was excited by the prospect.



    In darkness we portaged and paddled our way through Chester. There was a stunning vertical sided cut and then we were into the city. We passed a number of bars with the customary groups of exiled smokers outside. Invariably they were friendly and jovial. We camped on the first area of towpath that was away from houses. We were awakened by the first joggers and cyclists and as we packed we were passed by a hoard of kids on the way to school.



    Our route followed the Shropshire Union, Llangollen and Montgomery canals. Generally we were faster than the barges. Some bridges were a little low.



    Our kit was well organised and we could get everything around locks in two hits. Portaging a kevlar canoe is a delight. This is the the start of the Mongomery canal.



    The Montgomery canal is being restored at present and that leaves a four mile gap to the River Vyrnwy. Time for trollies. Arwel and Hefin with Al tucked in behind. The sharp bow entry of the We no nah is evident.



    We got onto the Vyrnwy late in the day. I had knocked at the door of a house and got permission to access the river via their garden. As so often on the trip folk were very supportive and the whole family came out to watch and ask questions. The kids were excited by the whole thing.



    The next morning saw us on the River Severn and the start of the run to Gloucester. This is the famous Iron Bridge in the gorge named after it. It was the world's first iron bridge and erected in 1779 (so for our US members this was built as the American War of Independence raged on). This now tranquil valley was the birth place of the industrial revolution and would have been alive with noise, smoke and flame twenty four hours a day. Alun and I were paddling a Minnesota II which had a slightly greater freeboard than the other canoe.



    This is the ONLY grade 2 rapid I have ever walked around! It is Jackfield. The run is straightforward but its fast and there is a lot of rock around. None of us fancied risking these superb boats that Outdoor Active had kindly loaned to us.



    The river was unusually quite as it was the start of the world cup so we generally had the locks to ourselves.



    Arwel and Hefin were paddling We no nah's Jenson. Maybe slightly faster than the Minnesota but not a lot in it. it has a slightly lower freeboard.



    The boats moved so beautifully that they were extraordinarily quite and Al and I would go hours without speaking. Because of this I had a wonderful sighting of two otters swimming upstream on the Severn. Sadly they were cameral shy but not so this sculpture. We paddled from Gloucester to Sharpness on the ship canal. Richard met us at the finish sort us to sea kayaks, offer a floor for the night and transport to a good pub. All very welcome.



    The forecast the next day for the start of our run down the Bristol Channel was marginal. A final decision could only be reached on the water's edge. It was a quiet and pensive start to that day. It was the first time the others had seen me under pressure in many years of working together. It was a big Spring tide and the wind was force 4/5 but heading in the same direction. The problem is the lack of get off points but ten miles on was the old ferry ramp at Beachly. I decided to go for it. For twenty minutes we paddled gently up the eddies waiting for the tide to turn. The turn was abrupt and we were hurtled down the channel. The wind was kicking up a messy sea and it was rebounding off the submerged mud flats. We reached 12 mph at one point. The decision to pull out at Beachly was easy. The guys at the coastguard station were very friendly and soon had mugs of tea in our hands. we camped up in the scrapyard/dump of the Old Ferry Inn. I was glad to be off the water that day. An hour and a half in the kayaks and we were wrung out.



    The wind dropped the following day. Were on the water a good 40 minutes before the turn of the tide and were waiting for it to go our way. With a committing paddle of thirty miles or more we felt quite tense.



    This is only 20 minutes off the change and water is still running fiercely. It was a brilliant run and perhaps my favourite day of the trip. My planning had worked and we made it through to Sully Island just short of Barry. With such a large tidal range getting off the water could have been difficult but the local sailing club has (they claim) the longest slipway in the Bristol Channel. Better still when we got to the top of it we were met by club members curious as to what we were doing. Quickly they made phone calls but couldn't give us permission to camp: but would we like to use the club facilities and sleep on the floor?

    The remaining two hundred miles went well loosing only one day to bad weather.







    There were some long days and some big water. There are no photos of the really big stuff as we were far too busy paddling.

    So a big thank you to Arwell Phillips of Glan Llyn for putting the trip together and inviting me to lead it. Also to Hefin and Alun for their companionship.. As part of the trip the guys were raising money for Air Ambulance Wales. Richard at Outdoor Active was superb in supporting us.

    The trip was 640 miles and took 24 days.

    This turning into an amazing year for me with an appearance in Justine's 'This is Canoeing', this trip and my canoe techniques book due out for Christmas. But best of all......



    My daughter Maya Rose was waiting for me at the finish.

    Ray
    Last edited by RayGoodwin; 4th-July-2010 at 03:33 PM.
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    Ray that was Inspirational! ,who says we don't have big trips in the uk.


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    Excellent stuff!

    I never knew Wales could be circumnavigated.

    When are you going to circumnavigate Scotland?

    Like the look of those kevlar canoes. Did they perform well?

    Great blog.

    G

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    Excellent trip Ray, thanks for sharing the ride
    Rich




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    Default Around Wales by kayak and canoe

    makes a fine read on a miserable wet and windy night herewillie
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    some chord that will vibrate in eternity"

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    Hi Ray

    Great blog and pics of a fine adventure.

    I wouldn't fancy being out in the big stuff. Well done.

    Michael
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    Brilliant. Thanks for posting.

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    Absolutely fantastic,thank you Ray.I recognised the old ship near Rhyl from when we have day trips by rail into Manchester or Liverpool when we are camping at Betwys y Coed.

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    A great first blogg. Looking forward to your second

    And congratulations.
    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    A great first blogg. Looking forward to your second

    And congratulations.
    Well.......it took me 18 years to get around to repeating the Wales trip. I will try not to take that long to do a second blog.

    Ray
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    A marathon trip. I wonder how many other bloggs you've missed posting?
    http://www.davidwperry.blogspot.co.uk/

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    Thanks for sharing this with us. I remember you talking to us about this trip at this year's Paddlefest, and I've been looking forward to hearing all about it. You certainly didn't let us down.

    And congratulations to you and your missus on the addition to your crew, Maya Rose, she's a wee star.
    Big Al.

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    Cracker. Well done you folks. Thanks for sharing this. Lovely pictures, especially the one with the seals. Congratulations to your good lady and you on the birth of your daughter. She's a wee smasher
    Regards,
    Stravaiger.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    Excellent stuff!

    When are you going to circumnavigate Scotland?

    Like the look of those kevlar canoes. Did they perform well?

    No plan to go around Scotland although I have done a lot of sea kayak guiding up there. I have done a canoe trip from North Uist in the Outer Hebrides to Perth and also one from the mouth of the river Hope (on the north coast) crossing three watersheds to end up south of the Highlands.

    Both kevlar We no nah canoes were stunning. Fast and light to portage. I have paddled this style of boat in Temigami in Canada on an extended flat water trip. I think as |Brits it is too easy to get fixated by plastic boats but if you have the money and only intend to paddle flat water kevlar boats are a joy. Both the Minnesota II and the Jenson are designed for fast and effortless paddling.

    As soon as my daughter is old enough we will be off to the Boundary Water and will be paddling We no nah boats. Two years time?

    Ray
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    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

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    Well that was a pleasure to read with my Monday morning coffee, brightened up my day no end! Amazing trip guys with some awesome pictures. A 24 day trip I'm sure there must be more pictures, feel free to bore us with 'em

    Well done to all
    Cheers,

    Alan


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    Fantastic! That's really brightened up my Monday morning!

    Fascinating trip, looks like areal achievement.

    Nice one.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

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    Nice one Ray well done.

    Pete
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    Truely inspirational ! Thank you for shareing your trip.
    ... and hello and welcome to Maya Rose what a cutie.
    Regards
    Hils

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    that's one brilliant looking trip. well done and thanks a lot for sharing your impressions!

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    great write-up, thanks for sharing it. Inspirational.
    Cheers
    Mike

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    Excellent blog with photos to match.

    TGB
    May the gentleness of morning, greet your silent passage through endless waters...

    May all your winds be gentle. And for ww - May it rain the night before.

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    As others have said excellent, great reading

    and welcome Maya Rose
    JD
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    Terrific trip

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    Superb!!!!! Such intrepid adventuring is always a pure joy to read about!
    "the river flows, flows to the sea, wherever that river goes, that's where i want to be"- the Byrds

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    Excellent blogg of a superb adventure, Ray. Congratulations to you and your companions. Those kevlar We no nahs sound as awesome as they look.
    Headman
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    An e-masterclass in paddling and blogging! Time stood still as I read the account and pored over the pictures! Many thanks for sharing your adventure with us.
    Juvanile delinkwit, vaguely faffing around with a pair of pliers. Du skal ikke tro at du er bedre end mig!

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    splendid, loved the daily updates on facebook as well. Facebook, posting from your iphone, you'll be on twitter next

    good to see some good old british adventuring still going on.

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    Fantastic stuff! Thanks for posting!
    The Canoeist's prayer: "Lord grant me the serenity to walk the portages I must, The courage to run the rapids I can, And the wisdom to know the difference".

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    Wow! Wow! Wow!
    What a great great idea and fantastically executed. I love the idea of combining sea kayaks with open boats - horses for courses. I could have sat here all night and looked at the photos.

    Great to see the next generation as well!

    Graham

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    Thanks for sharing this adventure!!


    I love the idea of combining sea kayaks with open boats - horses for courses.
    Yes, I agree. I think paddling both canoes and kayaks can compliment each other nicely depending on the circumstances.

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    WOW that looks amazing , wish i had the guts to take on a trip as big as that , maybe one day

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    Default Nice one Ray

    An excellent blogg and great pictures as always. Makes me even more interested at trying this Sea Kayaking thing.

    Glad you are back in one peice, I suspect though that there are more stories yet to be told of daring do!

    Good one, Paul.

  33. #33

    Default Great story and pics!

    Great to stumble across your blog of your trip, Ray! great photos and looks like a wonderful trip. it brings back a lot of memories of kayaking around with Fiona 8 years ago! I recognise a lot of the places in the photos. we also landed at Sully island after being shot out of the Severn. Look forward to catching up with you & the family sometime.
    Last edited by justine; 10th-July-2010 at 10:45 AM. Reason: put the wrong river in!

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    Great story and Pics, one Question what type of tent is that in Pic #8, it cought my eye and looks great.

    Best Scottie
    Best Scottie

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    Default Tent

    Maker is Hilleberg and model is Akto. It's my favourite solo tent where weight is an issue. Very good in strong winds.

    Ray
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    An exceptional blogg.
    Thank you
    Sean
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    Ray, thanks for sharing that trip, fantastic to see what can be done if you put your mind to it. Cute wee one too !
    Wilf
    Bacon sarnie anyone ?

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    Default Bits of S4C (tv)

    The trip is being shown as a series of bits in a Welsh language programme. First is on the sea kayak section to the Dee estuary.

    Link is:http://www.s4c.co.uk/clic/e_level2.s...e_id=400899346 cut and paste.

    Our bit starts at around 5.30 min. There are english subtitles available by pressing the owl at the bottom of the screen.

    Probably up for a week and then the second part should be the canoe section showing next week.

    Ray
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    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

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    Excellent. Thanks for posting link.

    TGB
    May the gentleness of morning, greet your silent passage through endless waters...

    May all your winds be gentle. And for ww - May it rain the night before.

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    Diolch yn fawr i chi. Very interesting - hope I remember to watch next week's instalment.
    Juvanile delinkwit, vaguely faffing around with a pair of pliers. Du skal ikke tro at du er bedre end mig!

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    Can't believe I missed this when it was first posted...

    Brilliant ...and I agree with the comment that someone else made that there are some fantastic trips that can be done in this country...and the first time was all in an open canoe too...now that would have made a blog and a half

    Well done and a belated congratulations too.

    Davy

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    Default Nice one guys & girls

    A real epic scale challange from the father of UK paddling and SotPs newest prospect Maya Rose. Congratulations & well done all.

    Kind regards
    Howard Mc

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    Default More Tv coverage

    Second instalment is available on line:

    http://www.s4c.co.uk/clic/e_level2.s...e_id=400899367

    our bit start at about 5.40 min

    Press the owl at the bottom of the screen for English subtitles.

    Nice to give the We no nah canoes some coverage.

    Ray
    www.RayGoodwin.com

    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

  44. #44
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    Default Final TV coverage.

    More Tv coverage

    Final instalment is available on line:

    http://www.s4c.co.uk/clic/e_level2.s...e_id=400899388

    our bit start at about 11 min

    Press the owl at the bottom of the screen for English subtitles.

    it will come up with two lines: No Subtitles and English subtitles. Press on the later.

    and no my back did not break it was the back strap.


    Ray
    www.RayGoodwin.com

    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

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    Just watched them all one after another,fantastic stuff.Thanks for this Ray and well done to the four of you.

  46. #46
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    Default Open canoeists do it in comfort

    Super blogg and TV coverage!

    Looks like the open canoeing was the enjoyable bit, though. Those sea kayaks are a bit wet.

    I'll stick to the open canoe sailing
    The impossible we do at once - miracles take a little longer!

  47. #47
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    Indeed great stuff Ray and good to see Alun is keeping himself busy. I have to confess that this has given me my Welsh 2000 challenge idea to canoe all the lakes above 2000 feet in snowdonia (see post in general section).

    I desperately need some lightweight split kayak paddles for 6 months for this charity event, do you know where i could get a pair donated? Which kayak paddles did you use for the trip?
    "Go play outside"

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