Tuesday, 24 May 2016

There's More Than One Way To Get To Cardiff | Tom Ruddy

After recently moving house, one of the first things on my mind was how close is the nearest river...

Turns out it's pretty close. In fact the River Ely is a short drive from the house, and there's a tributary to it that's even closer.

The river doesn't exactly look the most exciting, and it was hard to find any guide description of it which usually confirms this theory.
But not knowing what's coming up also adds an element of adventure, and it would a shame not to go exploring on a day off.

We would be starting in Pontyclun and finshing at Cardiff White Water Centre.

It had rained overnight which means there would be at least a little flow to help us get down, and although at first I thought it might take an hour or 2, measuring the map actually revealed it would be more like 6 hours... but we were committed by this point.

There was enough water to float down on SUPs with only a few shallow bits, definitely worth waiting for the rain though. The biggest issue was overhanging trees, and a few "should have been portages" that we kind of muscled through.

The occasional sound of a rapid around the corner kept things interesting, but most of the time the trip consisted of fairly laid back paddling and dodging trees now and then.

As we got closer to Cardiff, the water became deeper and the river got wider. This meant flat water and stronger head winds, which aren't the most welcome things after 4 hours on the water.

By the time we got to CIWW we were glad for a warm drink and a change of clothes. 
The total journey took us just over 5 hours, and ended up being 30km in total. The weather wasn't really perfect, so I'm looking forward to doing the trip again when the Sun's shining.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Sundays Are For Fishing | Colin Chick

It's 5am and the alarm is going off, which means only one thing on a Sunday... time to go fishing!

Up, washed, dressed, and in the van with a quick coffee stop on the way to Newton Beach, Porthcawl.

40 mins later I arrive to an empty car park. Maybe it's too early and I'm the only idiot who got out of bed?

Quickly set my yak up 'old skool' style. No electronic navigation or fish finder. Just two rods, a bag of tackle, and a cooler box full of crabs.

At this funny time of year, the biggest decision is whether to opt for a drysuit or dry trousers and cag combo?
Fortunately the sun showed it's face so I went for dry trousers and packed the cag just in case.

The sea was flat the sun was shinning. Perfect.

After a brief paddle just a mile and a half from the slipway, I arrive at my desired fishing spot. Anchor dropped in, first rod set up, crab on and cast out. I was just setting up number 2 when the 1st ratchet screams off. FISH ON! The fish fought well, putting up a proper scrap. It was a 15lbs Smooth-hound, which was the species being targeted today and also happens to be one of my favourite fish.

Time to cast the second rod. Fresh crab on the first rod and drop that one back in, which means it's time for a drink and a chill.

The tide had almost died and I was waiting for the flood, but I didn't have to wait long. The kayak swung around in the increasing tide and that was when it went mental!

Soon I'd lost three fish while I was playing a fish on my other rod, so decided that it was officially single rod season. This would also help me out as I stupidly thought thirty crabs would be enough ....wrong!

After catching around twenty five Smooth-hounds, all over 10lbs and quite a few close to 16lbs, the crabs were all gone. With no bait left and feeling rather pleased with such a great session, I pulled up  the anchor and set off for the slipway. On and off the water in 3.5 hours, not bad.

There was a beach angler who had set off from the car park same time as I had, who came rushing up to me saying he thought I'd be out all day. I told him I'd run out of bait and showed him the photos. After he picked his jaw up he told me he'd caught a couple of dog fish and that he needed to get kayak ASAP! 

Bonus points... I arrived home before my wife and 6 week old baby had even got out of bed!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

HB Canoes and Kayaks Under New Management

We are please to announce that Hereford and Borders Canoes and Kayaks is becoming part of the Escape Watersports brand.

The showroom (located in Orcop, Herefordshire) officially closes on May 21st 2016, and will reopen it's doors under new management on June 2nd 2016.

Escape Watersports director Matthew Feirn commented;

"We are very excited about HB Canoes and Kayaks joining the Escape Watersports brand.
It's great to have a new location in such a lovely part of the world, and we look forward to welcoming both old and new customers very soon."

The Hereford based showroom will stock a wide selection of popular canoes, kayaks, and SUPs, as well as clothing and equipment.

Located in the Wye valley, the shop makes a perfect place to pick up last minute items before taking a trip down the river Wye.

About Escape Watersports

Escape Watersports is a leading paddle sports retailer in the UK. Founded in 2011, Escape Watersports is an independent paddler owner and run canoe, kayak and stand up paddle board shop. 

Escape Watersports prides itself on supplying products from top brands and offering independent unbiased advice.

   About HB Canoes & Kayaks

HB Canoes & Kayaks is an independent, family business, dedicated to giving a professional and personal service, whilst providing you with honest and impartial advice.

The showroom can be found in converted farm buildings, and is in fact located on a working farm, complete with a lake and camp site next door.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Welsh Open Freestyle and Boatercross | Matthew 'Pod' Houghton

My day started with coaching Intro to Freestyle working on improving paddlers skills on 6 cumecs including surfing, spins, shudder rudders, air guitars and setting up in holes for the big moves. We were lucky to have Lowri Davies from flow free helping out with the coaching.

After lunch the water turned up to a mighty 10 cumecs ready for practise before the evening competition, we few more coached session on the faster flows to really hone their skills . It was great to see so many paddlers from all over the UK turn out for the event at Cardiff International Whitewater, making for a great competition in the evening.

I stuck to my strength and competed in just the freestyle to give Eddy more of a chance of winning the Boater X, the freestyle open had a great set up with a Jam session giving you a two part competition with time for feedback in the middle. I had the golden oldies in my group that although tiring after the first 5 minutes managed to battle on through and last the whole competition. 

I managed to come away from the freestyle with a 3rd place but the best part of the event for me was the minute of king of the wave carnage that I managed to win with a shudder rudder even after some dirty tack tics by Talc... looking forward to next years event already in my new Gui Gui ready to take the win. See you next year.

Images provided by Isabel Cuesta and Gavin Cooper.