Autumn highlights

Mawddach Estuary Oct19 (9)As well as the glorious colours of the trees lining our waterways, an autumn highlight for open boaters is always the Open Canoe Symposium. This year’s event was hosted in Wales on the shores of Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) and organised by the inestimable Ray Goodwin. As you’d expect from one of Ray’s events, the programme was packed with great sessions both on and off the water.

Occasions like the symposium are always a great opportunity to meet and catch up with fellow coaches, leaders and paddlers and I enjoyed a particularly grand day out with a group led by Andy Hall and Karl Midlane on the Mawddach estuary. The Mawddach, with its views back into Snowdonia, Cader Idris to the south and a stunning railway viaduct across its mouth, has long been on my wish list.

Andy and Karl had entertained us royally the previous evening with an account of their trip on Canada’s Tatshenshini River – tackling some big white water in a sit and switch C2 and capturing some inspiring video and fantastic photographs of the stunning scenery as the river winds its way through the Rocky Mountains to the sea.

Another guest speaker was James Raffan who had been invited over from Canada for the occasion. James is a prolific writer and director of the Canoe Museum in Ontario who gave us two thought-provoking presentations. On the Friday night James talked about his work using the canoe as a common bond to link Canada’s First Nations, English and French speaking communities and on the Saturday used a tale of canoe sailing around the Marshall Islands to deliver a hard-hitting message on the impacts of climate change on Arctic and Pacific communities and wildlife.

Next year’s symposium returns to England and YMCA Lakeside on Windermere on 30 October-01 November. I’ll hope to see you there.

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