Last weekend saw a small group head to North Wales to assist in Tim celebrating his birthday.
The birthday boy pulling his best smile for the camera!
The group consisted of Tim, Martyn, Steve, Amy, Emma P and myself. We had accommodation booked in Betws y Coed, Pen Y Clogwyn. It is a fantastic little cottage located a 10 minute walk from the road through the middle of town, at the top of a crag. Martyn and I had both stayed there before – spring 2004 – so were aware of the 300 metre walk from the road to the cottage. However, this time the route through the woods was better marked out and much easier to accomplish in the dark.
After arriving at our accommodation on Friday night, we all enjoyed a few drinks whilst Tim taught us how to turn chunks of wood into kindling for the fire. Unfortunately Amy didn’t quite grasp the idea as you can see in the photo below!
Amy not quite grasping the idea that we were only supposed to be chopping the wood
Before someone takes this a bit seriously, the photo was posed and Steve was in no danger at any time! Quite a few drinks were enjoyed before we retired to bed. For some, unknown, reason Emma decided to get up stupidly early to cook us bacon sarnies for breakfast. We were grateful for the food, but not for the early wake-up! We ended up going back to sleep before waking for a second round of breakfast at a more sensible time. After checking the river levels and confirming that there was no water in any of the rivers we would have liked to run, we decided that it was the Tryweryn or bust.
Tim looking out over the Graveyard
For both Emma and Tim this was their first visit to Canolfan Tryweryn, the national whitewater centre located on the banks of the river Tryweryn just a few miles upstream from Bala. We worked our way down from the ‘chipper’ (the top of the section we were able to run) down to the Internation Wave section practicing our break-outs and break-ins, before making an attempt at Miss Davies’ bridge. Unfortunately, this rapid unsettled Tim, causing him to go over. His first roll attempt almost worked and his second attempt was cut short by his paddles getting ripped out of his hands. Well, that was the excuse he was sticking to in order to justify his swim! After recovering all his kit, we decided it was time to make the most of the facilities available and enjoy some lunch in the riverside cafe.
Making the most of the riverside cafe at the Tryweryn
After a nice break, Martyn and I got back onto the river for another run down, testing ourselves by trying to get eddies that were indicated to me on my last visit a couple of weeks prior. With some mixed success, we called it a day and headed back to a pub in Betws y Coed to enjoy a refreshing pint (or two…). As Martyn, Tim and I finished our pints, Steve, Emma and Amy disappeared back to our accommodation to get dinner on the go. We arrived, having had to endure the tricky walk up in the dark as none of us had torches, to the sight of a roaring fire, balloons and a banner, accompanied by a rendition of “Happy Birthday”. Dinner of Sausage and pear-mash, followed by Terry’s Chocolate Orange birthday cake, were thoroughly enjoyed by all and we then settled in front of the fire for conversation and a few drinks. Tim was not particularly surprised as Emma started mixing him a ‘special’ birthday pint.
Emma mixing Tim’s birthday pint
Tim about to enjoy his special pint
We saw in the start of Tim’s birthday on the Sunday before we again retired to bed. Sunday started at a much more reasonable time with sausage and bacon sarnies. The water levels were the same as the day before so it was back to the Tryweryn for us. All was going well, until Tim attacked the Graveyard and lost, dramatically. He swam. As we went for the rescue the reason for the swim became apparent – he was still holding his paddle, but only half of it. The paddle shaft had snapped clean in two. As we rescued his boat we saw the other part of his paddles float past, concluding that would be the last we would see of them
Amy descending Ski Jump
Me breaking out of an eddy
As we finished our final run of the weekend, Emma decided that she would like a go at swimming the last rapid – NRA bridge. As I helped her back into an eddy to get out of the river, I caught a glimpse of something yellow wedged between the rocks. On further inspection, the blob of yellow turned out to be the piece of Tim’s paddle we had seen float off a few hours earlier!
Tim with the retrieved part of his paddle
On the drive home we all stopped off on Llangollon for the traditional refreshment break, but this time was slightly different. We enjoyed some more of Tim’s birthday cake. Hmmm 🙂
More photos from the weekend are available at: http://photos.andywicks.com/TimsBirthdayWeekend