One of those Days

It was just one of those days today. It looked as though it would be a good one. I had a bit of an adventure planned so was up early as usual. I couldn’t start the adventure too early though as I had to wait for high tide which wasn’t until 10am.

The plan was to make the most of the big tides and the strong Easterly winds for a mad down-wind paddle from Derwenlas down the Dyfi to Aberdyfi and then out onto the sea and around to our house. Amazingly the forecast was pretty accurate and we had a nice 30 knot wind howling down the estuary. Coupled with the outgoing tide it was looking as though it would be a fast, exciting ride down the river in my surf ski.

I loaded up the van and headed off to Derwenlas.

Plans Scuppered

I was hoping to get through a set of gates to cross the railway line and gain access to the river. The gates however have been ‘upgraded’ recently and now there was no way through. Not only were they locked with a keypad code to open them, but there were camera traps mounted on the gates on the opposite side of the railway line.

Not helpful at all. It was a shame as I was looking forward to a few meanders in the river which would be a little sheltered before heading off into the wind and chop of the estuary. I had seen some gates on the other side of Derwenlas though so decided to check those out. These were a ‘no-go’ as well. The gates were padlocked and there were big signs telling me not to trespass. Not only that but some guy in a 4×4 pulled up in full shooting gear with a rifle on his passenger seat and started to tell me that canoeing wasn’t allowed on the River Dyfi.

Now I’m not 100% sure of the rules, but that can’t be entirely true as it is obviously allowed further down the river and within the estuary. As far as I was aware, tidal waters are pretty much open access. I’ve just checked on the British Canoeing website and it states:

In nearly all cases there is a Public Right of Navigation (PRN) on tidal waters. This includes the seas, estuaries and tidal rivers – up to their historic Normal Tidal Limit (NTL)

https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/go-canoeing/access-and-environment/access-to-water

That’s what I thought. Granted that doesn’t mean that we have right of access across the land to get to these tidal rivers and that was what was causing me issues today. I’ve paddled quite a way up the river in the past, but have always started on the sea and therefore haven’t needed to gain access to any of the land adjacent to the river.

I did find one access point where I could get down to the river just downstream from the big layby in Glandyfi. It would have involved a bit of a carrying though and there was still a padlocked gate to negotiate. I was thinking about it when another similar looking guy with a similar looking gun turned up to watch what I was up to.

In the end I decided to give up on the idea and headed home. So much for my downwind adventure.

Droppage

To make matters worse, as I was getting my ski off the roof of the van, a gust of wind caught it, lifted it up over my head and blew it off the van. I managed to half catch it so that it didn’t just fall onto the drive but it still added a few scratches to it. Most of them have polished out OK but there are a few new war wounds to be seen. It also snapped off one of the little deflectors around the self bailer and broke it into a few pieces.

I found all of the pieces and have reconstructed them and reattached them with some epoxy resin. I’m waiting for it to cure before I know how well it has worked. I don’t think there’s any terminal damage, but what with this and the crack that developed late last year my ski isn’t looking as new as it used to. Time to start saving and shopping for a new one maybe!

Seized

With my surf ski plans scuppered and time wasted fixing my boat it was now time for a bike ride. I’d planned to do a bike ride later in the day. The plan was to ride up into the hills and then back to Derwenlas to collect the van. That was no longer needed so it was time to get out into the hills for a stress-busting ride.

Even this wasn’t straight forward as the headset bearings on a couple of my bikes had seized and the brake caliper pistons needed freeing up too. It’s not that I don’t look after them, it’s just that the salty, sandy environment here is a nightmare for bikes and if they sit around for more than couple of weeks things tend to seize up – I know, serves me right for not getting out on them lately. Or more to the point having too many bikes to choose from which means that some don’t get used as often as they should.

So, before I could get out I had some bike maintenance to do. That in itself didn’t go too well either. The bearing on one bike just wouldn’t free up. The aluminium flange that allows you to release the bolt through axles on the front wheels rounded off on two bikes as I tried to take the wheels off, my wrist was sore so I kept dropping things and I managed to get grease all over my shorts!

The bearing look to be in pretty good condition but no amount of coaxing would get them moving so I guess I have to source some new ones – I hate doing that, I can never find the right ones, even when they have the size clearly written on them!

Out in the Hills

Eventually though I did get out for a nice ride in the sunshine. There was still strong wind blowing but the weather was lovely. Still pretty chilly at around 8ºC but wall to wall sunshine and the trails were relatively dry.

I headed out around Borth Bog, up through Talybont Woods and then out towards Bont Goch where I headed off into the hills and forests up towards Nant y Moch. The long climb was a bit of a slog into the wind but it was nice to finally be out doing something. Just me, my bike and the trails. I didn’t see a single person all the way up to the top of the hill at Windy Gap. There was more snow up here than I was expecting, and the hills of Plynlimon to the south were still completely white.

From here it was just the long descent down through Artists Valley before heading home. I was going well on the descent. It was pretty cold but with the wind on my back I was flying along. I was even beginning to think that maybe I’d get a Personal Best for the descent, but then I rounded a bend and there was a family walking up the hill. I slowed down as I approached and they waved me down. I stopped to see what they wanted. It was nothing important, they just wanted to know if there were any lakes nearby. I told them that there was but they were a couple of miles up the hill and quite a walk from where there were. They asked about driving to them so I gave them some directions and then continued on my way. All ideas of a PB were now out of the window so I just took it easy. The descent here is actually about 3 miles long and does contain a few small climbs within it so I took it easy on these as well.

Despite stopping for 40 seconds (I’ve checked how long it was!) and then taking it easy I was therefore surprised when I got home to find that not only had I beaten my PB on this descent, but I had claimed the Strava KOM too! I’d beaten the previous KOM by 56 seconds as well. If only I hadn’t been forced to stop. If I’d just gone for it all the way and put in some effort on the mini-climbs I could easily have knocked another minute off that. Oh well, something for another day maybe.

My wrist was killing me now though and I decided that I’d had enough bad luck for the day and thought better of going for a run as well. No doubt I would have fallen over and injured myself.

Flapping around the Garden like a mad man

Instead I decided that there was plenty to do in the garden so maybe I should start doing some of it. On top of the gardening, the shed needs painting and our canoe could do with another coat of varnish too.

First thing though was to top up the feed for the bees. There were a few bees coming and going from the hive and they had taken 2/3 of the feed from last week so it was good timing to top it up. They were a little grumpy so all I did was add some more syrup to their feeder and then leave them to it. It’s still too cold for a proper inspection.

I then set to cutting back a few bits and pieces in the garden. After about 10 minutes of doing this though, the bees decided to attack. I had headphones on listening to a podcast so didn’t hear them coming, but one stung my leg and another simultaneously stung my ear. There I was happily minding my own business cutting back the dogwood when all of a sudden I jumped up and started slapping myself and flapping around the garden like a mad man. I have no idea if anyone saw me but they must have though I’d gone mad if they did.

I managed to fight the others off before they stung me again but after that I decided that maybe I’d be better off just sitting on the sofa. Things weren’t going well today.

I was planning on some aquarium maintenance this evening but maybe I’ll leave that for another day. I did make a few more repairs to my surf ski before heading in to cook dinner but I think it’ll be safer doing nothing else for the rest of the evening. Although it does look as though we are in for a nice sunset so I might risk a stroll to the beach later.

Tomorrow’s another day so hopefully it’ll work out a little better. If nothing I guess Saturday has at least given me an excuse for being a grumpy old man!

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.