The variety of options is unrivalled in Britain, the scenery’s sensational and the warmth of the hospitality make up for the wetsuits and water temperatures. “Come on in” says pro rafter Matt Blue “the whitewater in Wales is lovely."
I’m a professional rafter and the lure of rafting in other countries has taken me to Austria and New Zealand. I worked on the Zambezi river in Africa for a couple of years, rafted in Chile and have been down the Grand Canyon. And I’ve raced all over the world for the Great Britain rafting team – in 2009 in Bosnia we ranked third in the world and won gold in the head to head.
I now live in Carmarthen and what makes Wales so attractive is the variety of rafting in such a small country.
The first commercial rafting centre in the UK, the National Whitewater Centre on the Tryweryn river near Bala, opened in 1986 and really forged the way for a lot of rafting companies to spring up.
White water rafting on Afon Tryweryn, Snowdonia
There are places to go rafting on the River Dee near Llangollen, on Lake Vyrnwy in the north, spots in West Wales like the Teifi. In the heart of Cardiff we’ve got an artificial pump site that gives access to the masses. That’s amazing. Many people want to try rafting but it usually takes place in mountainous wilderness places. This site in Cardiff gets them into the boats. People go, they enjoy it and they think, ‘Do you know what? I fancy going to a natural river now’.
Cardiff International White Water Centre,
Cardiff Bay by CIWW
The rafting experience is a real mix in Wales. For some of the sites you’re on hard whitewater and the adrenaline’s right up. Many of the spots where rafting is taking place are Grade 3 rapids and lower. Rafting on rivers like the Teifi and the upper Wye or the upper sections of the Dee provides a great opportunity to see the flora and wildlife in places you might not normally be able to access.
For me, the scenery is as much a part of the experience – the beautiful environment you’re in is one of the things that makes rafting in Wales unique.
While rafting here can be really exciting – on the Tryweryn or the lower section of the Dee it’s all action-packed and big hits – in many places it provides an incredible way for people to get into the environment as a complete beginner.
Taking part in some really cracking adventure activities with all of their friends around them. I’ve also found a real friendliness and warmth to all the people who work in rafting in Wales.
Whitewater rafting is such a great sport and there’s been a real upsurge in interest recently; it’s really broken through to another level. The local school near me in Carmarthen has bought a raft, so rafting is one of the activities it does with the children. We were in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics. That’s huge. People realise there’s rafting going on here and they think ‘I want to do that.’ Well, they can.
More rafting operators in Wales