National White Water Centre, Bala
With about 9km of natural river, the National White Water Centre, near Bala in North Wales, is the only commercially rafted stretch of water in the UK that compares to whitewater rafting worldwide. The Tryweryn river mixes the intensity of an Olympic-grade whitewater course and a journey through the Snowdonia National Park – it has the highest density of otters in North Wales. Plus it’s a beautiful river.
Your first rapid
A big rapid is intimidating the first time you hear it; you really sense the power of the river. You’ll help the guide position the approach, but won’t be able to see where you’re going. Then your boat suddenly accelerates and you’re into the rapid, ducking the spray and listening to commands from the guide. That’s a massive rush.
The River Dee, Denbighshire
While the upper Tryweryn has five sections of rapids over 1.5km, the River Dee rapids are less continuous, so there’s time to breathe between sections of whitewater – there are sections of grade 3-4, then 2-3 then another 3-4 section over 4km. In other words, time to enjoy the journey on a lovely river.
Search for whitewater rafting providers in Llangollen.
The natural world
A lot of rafting is about not knowing what’s around the corner. You may see something unusual – I see otters when I’m the first on the Tryweryn – and usually dippers and yellow tits. And it’s also about being in the countryside. On natural rivers you’re under a canopy of trees, going through dappled sunlight into warm sunshine like something from The Lord of the Rings.
Very much a journey through classic Carmarthenshire rural woodland – old forest and green rolling hills. River Teifi, the queen of rivers (it’s the longest river that rises and exits in Wales) has kingfishers, otters and leaping salmon and only three whitewater sections, so rafting here is a mix of being in nature and gentle adventure. A great family trip.
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