Sunday, 13 February 2011

Symonds Yat

A day on the River Wye

The Wye at Symonds Yat is one of UK kayaking's hidden treasures.  I lived within 40 minutes drive of it for years before I discovered it - and now it has to be one of my favourite kayaking rivers.  The high spot is the man-made rapids - but if you want something more leisurely there are miles of relatively still water up and downstream of Symonds Yat to explore.

Shooting the Symonds Yat rapids

Before going over the rapids for the first time it is a good idea to watch others for a while to see how to do it - or how not, as plenty of people are caught out by the rocks in the middle!  The first time I went over the rapids there had been a lot a rain and the Wye was running fast and high.  I planned my ‘route’ and carefully approached (and yes, I was a bit nervous as I’d seen a few wipe-outs so was ready to bale out if necessary). 

It felt like being in a kayak at the top of a flight of stairs, but there was no going back.  The tranquil silence of the river was suddenly replaced with the roar of white water and I shot through, heading straight for the big rock in the middle.  I’m not sure if it’s instinct or training but I dug the paddle in deep and just cleared it by seconds, emerging at the bottom the right way up with a huge grin that lasted most of the day. 

Rapids definitely make you a better kayaker, as after that I could tackle anything smaller with a lot more confidence.

Me going over the rapids at Symonds Yat

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