Thursday 21st May 2015
Canoeing – over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct!!
Ok, it wasn’t a slalom run down the River Dee from Horseshoe Falls to Town Falls, with the famous Serpents Tail; it was a flat water paddle on the Llangollen Canal. However, it was just as knee wobbling experience for those who hadn’t been in a canoe since their junior school day trips out to the adventure park, or indeed never been in a canoe before.
In conjunction with Pro-adventure activity centre – Llangollen, we congregated at the Froncysyllte Draw Bridge for our safety briefing and distribution of buoyancy aids.
Joined by some members of Chirk and Trevor WI’s we launched eleven canoes into the canal and were given instructions on the correct way to actually sit (knees under the seat not stretched out in front – not the most comfortable!) plus basic paddling skills.
At this point, we must apologize to the people who were moored up in their narrow boats enjoying the tranquil setting. Probably just sitting down to their evening meal and cracking open a nice bottle of wine, when they suddenly felt that they had been transported to the fairground for a ride on the dodgems!!
There was such a buzz in the air as we tried to get to grips with the paddling technique, the tranquility was shattered as our laughter echoed through the valley and the sound of bumping canoes (and stationary narrow boats!!) caused a breach of the peace.
We made our way towards the famous Pontcysyllte aqueduct which was our main challenge of the evening. After a short wait to allow on coming boats to pass and another brief from the instructors, the concentration on some faces (or was it fear?) showed, whilst ‘some’ (no names mentioned ……………….. ) showed their competitive side and raced to the starting point of the magnificent structure, so they could have first claim to fame.
Others however, were still getting to grips with the technique and using the canal bank (or dare I say stationary narrow boats) to steer off the side and redirect themselves into the middle of the canal to obtain some sort of straight navigation.
Although we didn’t all master the true technique of the paddle, so created our own zigzag approach across the aqueduct, we all managed to arrive safely on the other side.
Some even stopped to have a look at the magnificent views midstream
After a short ‘play around’ at Trevor Basin, surprisingly confidence had built and some thought they were participating in the Hawaii five-O closing credits (for those of you who remember it???) or heading for the next Olympics as they raced to get back over the Aqueduct to Froncysyllte, where we made a right ‘splash’ and once again disturbed the peace.
I am pleased to say that there were no casualties during the evening, except for the odd canoe, although some members were much ‘wetter’ than others.
So, still no sign of Jam and Jerusalem, but we have experienced one of the most amazing canoe paddles across a world heritage site that has a 126 foot drop down to the River Dee. Be proud of yourselves Ladies.
When the sun went down the evening ended with a well earned drink (none alcoholic of course) at the Telford Inn. A great evening had by all. Some suggestions for future activities include Gorge walking / Archery & Ax Throwing /Climbing & Abseiling if you fancy taking part, drop us a line. Everyone is welcome x