North Wales is a Mecca for sea paddlers, and in particular the island of Angelsey and the smaller Holy Island in the North West corner of Wales. The Irish Sea floods and ebbs past here twice a day creating world famous tidal races that draw paddlers from all over.
I loaded up my van and hit the road to catch a Friday evening ferry across from Ireland on Halloween weekend. A three hour 100km crossing from Dublin (the record is around 11 hours by kayak) and you are in Holyhead the home of Rockpool Kayaks and another well know manufacturer- NDK. I’m a team paddler and dealer for Rockpool so I was looking forward to try out some new kayaks and catch up with the workshop on my trip.
My plan for the long weekend was to just paddle on the sea in the famous tide races around the island. After reaching out on Facebook to see who was around I ended up connecting with some fellow Irish paddlers who were visiting the national whitewater centre on the Tryweryn River just 90 minutes away. Having not paddled much whitewater this year I was keen to have a shake down and jumped at the invite and offer of a boat to use.
The Tryweryn is a dam release natural course that is class 2-3 with lots of fun features but nothing tricky. Plus you get a shuttle back to the start every 30 minutes to dial in those lines; perfect for a rusty whitewater boater!! So that was Saturday sorted, it was a great day on the water with friends and new faces at a really excellent facility for training or teaching.
Sunday I was back on Angelsey to meet up with two locals, one from Netherlands and the other Czech! Drawn here by the paddling they never left and now know these fast moving waters well. We headed for a tiderace on the north coast called Harry Furloughs Rocks. It was sporty with wind over a spring tide and waves were breaking around 3-4 foot. I brought the new Eto from Rockpool to test, which preformed excellent in the tidal waves.
The sun was shining and there was lots of hooting and hollering as we screamed passed each other down the faces of waves. It’s a full on paddling workout as you surf back and forth on the surging waves. A dash for the eddy is your only relief, and a place to catch your breath from the onslaught as the ebbing tide powers its way out to the Irish sea.
Monday was more relaxed with most people back to work. I decided on an easy solo paddle at Port Darfach which was a great chance to try another Rockpool kayak the Tarantella.
The weather was pretty cool all weekend as we are getting into winter proper. On the more dynamic days I wore my Kokatat Meridian Drysuit, which was like new after a recent service by Kokatat. It kept me bone dry as always. I wore my Kokatat Paddling Jacket for my cruisy Monday paddle in Port Darfach.
All in all it was an excellent weekend of kayaking, the variety, compactness and welcome from the locals makes this region really great for visiting paddlers. There are plenty of outfitters and guides to connect with and endless paddling opportunities.