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  • Writer's pictureDean Macken

River Usk Open Tour - 1997

Tuesday, 1st April 1997

River Usk Open Boat Tour Written By Anneka Brewster We were woken from our camping slumber at 7.45 by a friendly voice asking if we wanted a cup of tea, it was Ian. It was decided we would do a nine-mile paddle today and so following breakfast we set off to Sennybridge, the start of our Usk trip to Brecon. Shuttle completed and paddling by 11.00.

The river was at medium level with a good flow, and 5 or 10 minutes into our paddle we hit the first natural weir. All but two boats capsized in quick succession. Dad and I followed Colin (solo), he had a bit of a wobble which gave us less confidence - we followed the same line and had less luck, as did Tina and Ian, and Angela (solo). Dave (solo) took a less chancy line and stayed upright. After a short swim we got to the bank with all the kit and emptied the boats, we tied up and walked back to see if an equally fun shoot could have been done dry. Dry yes, fun maybe? We viewed he second short drop weir from the bank and all shot it successfully on the left, apart from Dave, who took a dip.

We inspected the third weir which was a drop across half the river and very rocky across the rest. The drop had a tow-back which was very aerated and boily, we decided to line the boats down as a swim looked too likely, much to the disappointment of a farmer who stopped to watch. Colin lined down the rocky side and the rest of us lined over the drop into the boily pool.

The weather was beautiful, sunny and not at all cold. We often felt we needed our sunglasses, especially when the sun reflected off the water. Dad and I spotted a wave further down, so we foolishly tried to surf it, after all we’re kayakers at heart, but you guessed it, we fished…. again! Just before the finish the river widened, flattened and slowed, the breeze dropped and there were no rocks creating waves. Ian took us by surprise when he said “This is the best bit, this is what I came for”. We all thought he was joking but perhaps he had not expected so much action! We finished just before a big sloping weir and bridge at Brecon. Everyone got off the water except me; so Colin could assess my turning strokes for my 3 Star Open Boat assessment, he said they were fine, but I would have to learn the terminology to advance to 4 Star level.

Dinner was at 6.30 so we went to the common room at the centre where we stayed and watched The Matrix on video.

We nearly had a fire in our room when a plug in a heater caught light. Angela found it in time and Ian took it outside to cool down. We were lucky! After dinner we went to the local pub and talked through the day’s events.

On Sunday we paddled on the Wye from Buith Wells to Llyswen, but that is another story. PS. I passed my 3 Star Open Boat, many thanks to Colin for that and the weekend trip.

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