Sunday August 23:
Despite the continued heavy rain, the white water rafting was still on. Well, I guess rain is one essential ingredient for white water rafting. The three of us piled into Becky and Leigh’s little car and made the hour or so trip across to the mainland and down to Bala. On the way I saw a very excitable horse running across a field and somehow manage to do a somersault. The whole animal spectacularly cartwheeled head-0ver-heels in the most ungainly fashion. It still seems quite surreal looking back now. Very bizarre.
When we arrived at the water sport centre we were quite disappointed by the lack of water in the river, but Leigh said there was an upstream reservoir that they release water from to increase the flow. We got paired with a Liverpudlian father and son, the father looked and sounded very much like John Bishop.
We got our wetsuits on (which was a first for me and much easier than anticipated) and had a safety briefing, before loading the inflatable boats onto flatbed trailers, then hopping into the minibuses to head upstream.
By now the river was flowing much faster and deeper, they’d obviously opened the dam on the reservoir. We got to the launch point and our instructor (a little skinny lad about 19/20 who I must admit, I doubted could handle this fairly big boat) reminded us of all the instructions for when to paddle, hold the paddles in, duck down etc. then we got on the water.
There were some pretty fast rapids and steep drops of five or six feet. We took turns in different positions in the boat on the different runs and it was definitely most fun in the front as you felt the drops more. The instructor, who also very capably steered with an oar from the back would also swing the boat upstream and everyone would paddle into a rapid so you’d get absolutely drenched from being thrust into the waterfall!
At one point it started raining, and by now on this trip I’d seen some ‘proper’ rain, but this was next level rain. It absolutely hammered down for about five minutes. So much so that a tree fell down and landed partially across the river! We waited it out by the riverbank, not that we could get any wetter.
On the last run of the day Becky was sat in one of the front seats and Leigh and myself were really determined to giver her an absolute soaking! When we got to the part where we had to paddle upstream to shove the front of the boat into the rapids I really dug in and paddled as hard as I could. All of a sudden I was out of my seat and flying through the air. The boat must have hit a rock, as I was launched straight into the air and out of the boat! I landed head first in the rapids and quickly forgot all that the instructors said about holding onto your paddle! I did remember the safe swimming position to hold my legs up in front of me and stop them getting smashed on submerged rocks and fairly quickly floated a good 50 or so metres before I reached the bank.
The instructor shouted for me to get out and onto the bank. I was shaking a bit from the adrenaline but had stayed very calm in the water. I was amazed and very happy that my specs had stayed on my head and were undamaged at least.
When we got back to the centre I asked the instructor how many people get thrown out of the boat and was horrified to hear I was the first of that season. I felt pretty embarrassed. Between the five of us in the boat we chipped in to get a CD of the professional photos taken from the riverbank (some which are included for your amusement) then headed back to Menai Bridge where Becky cooked us a cracking roast chicken Sunday Dinner. A pretty good Sunday really.
Rafting at Bala – http://balawatersports.com/index.php/adventure-activities/whitewater-rafting