The Mighty Usk
by Sophie Stubbles
After arriving at the boathard for 6pm thinking that this would be a sensible time I was shocked to discover that we were actually ready to leave! Was this to be a trip which didn’t involve faff?! We arrived at our beautiful Welsh village destination at about 10pm. The hut was more of a church hall/women’s institute hideaway rather than the usual scout huts I had experienced on previous trips. It was even decorated with a chandelier!
Soon all peace in the tiny village was destroyed as we cracked out the booze and started the drinking games. It wasn’t a particularly heavy night for most although I do remember a certain person claiming in very slurred words that people had been drinking all of his rum!
A small group of select paddlers were up bright and early to test the waters for the rest if us, rather them than me as I would not have wanted to get up at 7!
After being told that the Usk was a nice easy beginner river I was shocked to see the raging torrent that awaited us! Luckily (for me anyway) it was deemed unsafe to paddle for beginners. We went to check out the Wye but this also had very high water levels.
We then had a very difficult decision to make…was it to be the tea shops of Brecon or a paddle on a canal? Surprisingly by the vast majority it was decided to paddle a canal. This proved to be just as flat and shallow as we thought it would be, however I was told that it’s all good practice. It was then straight to the Farmer’s Arms for some liquid refreshment before dinner.
After a couple of pints it was back to the hut for a lovely pan flavoured chicken korma, followed by rice-pan pudding and jam. Back to the pub after dinner for a few more drinks and some rather tasty mulled wine donated to us by the landlord. There was also some interesting live Welsh music. The rest of the night consisted of the usual drinking games, namely ring of fire, and then a reasonably early night (about 3am).
Note from the Ed:
And of course, I understand there were more of George’s wise words to be heard!:
George: That’s Ian.
Neil: I’m Neil.
George: Well that’s close enough, it’s Ian backwards.
After a small amount of faff (nothing more than expected) it was decided to split us up into two groups, sending the first group as guinea pigs to see if the river was suitable. A few swims occurred but nothing out of the ordinary so it was decided that the river was in fact suitable. The second part of the river had a few ledges which most of us walked. Only one group actually made it to the get out (well done to them!) the rest of us ended up blocking the drive way of a rather irate Welsh man. This was mainly to do with the lack of daylight left when we still had about 4km to paddle! After cheese and ham and chicken and beef sandwiches we emptied the hut and went on our way.
Despite the not so exciting paddling on the Saturday it was an awesome trip!