White Water adventures in North Wales
Snowdonia in North Wales, with its picturesque mountains, rivers, lakes and waterfalls, has long been a major tourist attraction for walkers, climbers and general sightseeing tourists. It is also one of the wettest places in Britain and this rainfall, when combined with the dramatic landscape, provides some of the best locations for white water rafting, kayak and canoeing in Britain.
North Wales is home to many schools and businesses offering adventure activities and a quick search of the Internet reveals that this includes many water-based activities, such as white water sports. Snowdonia also boasts many clubs and these are an excellent way of getting in touch with people and making new friends, as well as getting safe access to some of the best water. The Aber Kayakers Club encourages the participation of families and people of all ages and sexes to have a go. They run regular pool sessions for practice and instruction in controlled conditions and publish a programme of their activities every three months. These include slalom, wild water racing, polo and much more. The Snowdonia Canoe Club based in Penisarwaun, Caernarfon meets every Monday evening from mid-April to mid-September in various fantastic locations in the Snowdon area. During the rest of the year the club meets at the pool in Plas Menai .
Rafting on the River Tryweryn is a popular pastime and there are many clubs and adventure activity companies willing to take you out on the river. The river offers challenges to suit all levels of experience, some of which are not suited to the absolute beginner. The same applies for North Wales’ River Dee at Llangollen , but this has many sections suitable for the beginner. A company called Pro Adventure takes bookings for adventure-activity breaks, including white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking. In its description of what’s on offer at the River Tryweryn at Bala on their website, Pro Adventure says “you’ll need your wits about you as you tackle rapids such as the Ski Slope and the Graveyard!” The cost of one of their ‘Adrenaline Sessions’ is around £70 per person.
If you’re considering taking up the sport of Kayaking for more than just a few adrenaline packed hours then you need to think about your equipment. You can hire everything, obviously you’ll need the minimum of a kayak, paddle and buoyancy aid. To make life in the water more comfortable then consider getting some special neoprene shoes and a wetsuit, once you’re sure you’re sticking around for the long paddle. Buying your own kayak to take to the water is an option but remember you’ll need a trailer or roof rack to transport it. Second-hand kayaks start at about £250, new ones are priced upwards from £650.
One of the well known white water sections in North Wales is at Aberglaslyn gorge. The gorge is widely considered to be the best short sections of Whitewater in Wales - but it is not suitable for beginners. With normal/low water the gorge presents as a technical series of pool-drops reckoned to be graded at Class 3 or 4. Heavy rain transforms it and it becomes an awesome continuous grade 4+. The gorge section is only 500m long and prior inspection is easy and recommended. The gorge enjoys excellent road access, and large pools between the drops. There is one drop, known as the breaker, which is larger than the others, and is followed by a pleasant pool. There’s the possibility of a take-out at this point, or you can continue on down. This final 100m is very challenging with more drops. Most people are here for the adrenalin and so take out before the road bridge as, after the bridge, the river is flat down to the sea.
A long history of tourism means Snowdonia and North Wales are well served with accommodation ranging from luxury hotels down to rough campsites on farms. Hotels like the White Lion Royal Hotel in Bala for instance. The hotel was built 1752 and recently reopened after extensive renovation to a four star Coaching Inn standard. If you want even more luxury then perhaps you’d be tempted to spoil yourself at the Palé Hall Hotel on the Palé Estate, Llandderfel near Bala. The magnificent hall is considered to be one of the finest buildings in Wales. Llangolen offers visitors the aptly named White Waters Hotel for retreat. This recently constructed hotel is situated in delightful surroundings overlooking the River Dee and yet located only one mile from the town centre. Near the small town of Tywyn you’ll find the Dolgoch Falls Hotel situated at the foot of the famous Dolgoch Ravine and Waterfalls. What better place could a white water enthusiast stay at?
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