For my birthday this year, I went white water rafting! My boyfriend organised this as a surprise and I actually had no idea what we were doing until we were about half an hour away. I’d mentioned wanting to do this before but never guessed he’d actually planned it.
We did this via White Water Warriors, located in the Vale of Llangollen in North Wales. Everyone who worked there was super friendly and made us feel immediately at ease. Our session lasted around 3 hours, and there were 6 other people also in our session.
The River Dee is one of the best rivers in the UK to raft. Our instructor explained that we were going to experience 4km of continuous rapids on a grade 2-4 whitewater river. Grade 5 is the highest you can experience without being a professional, so we knew this was going to be exciting!
Firstly we had to get into our wetsuits, which is a workout in itself! Then we were driven to the starting point. We had to carry the raft from the cars to the edge of the river, which was surprisingly heavy and also down quite a steep hill.
There, we did some practise paddling and learning how to act in different situations, as well as some safety info in case you fell out of the raft etc. Then we were sent on our way!
We paddled down the river Dee from the Horseshoe Falls to the town of Llangollen. The horseshoe weir was actually the only point I felt I might fall off the raft. As we were sitting on the tubes along the edge of the raft, the sheer drop meant that it really did feel like we could fall into the water very easily. It definitely got the adrenaline going!
As part of this experience, we got to experience quite a few rapids, including the ‘Serpent’s Tail’ rapid and the incredible ‘Town Falls’ rapid above the Llangollen Bridge. When we hit the rapids, we had to immediately slide from sitting on the tubes to dropping into the middle of the raft, in the foot holes between the tubes. This helps you stay in the raft but also gets you much closer to the water. As it was my birthday, I got the special ‘treat’ of sitting at the front whilst we circled back and went under a rapid. The water went way over my head and I got absolutely soaked!
We also got the chance to ‘surf’ on the ‘Serpent’s Tail’ rapid, which involved trying to stand up in the raft. It’s fair to say none of us had the balance to stay stood up for long.
We were so lucky that one person’s partner had come along to take photos, so we got all of these amazing shots thanks to her. Overall, this was such a fun, different activity and I would totally recommend it!