By nine-thirty in the morning a small grassy hollow had been transformed to a travelling canoeists camp and a fire pit was under construction. The scene was perfect, the sun was out, the water was clear and crystal and the Mad River canoes pulled up with tarpaulin shelters creating some shade. Jules Burnard of Voyageur coaching was ready for the days activities and all around him other Palm Team coaches prepared their equipment for the wide range of workshops they were running.
The shore line of Llyn Padarn soon became a multi-coloured mass of kayaks, canoes, sit-on-tops and inflatables as families, friends and clubs all took to the water in the demo boats from Palm. With the lads from Plas-y-Brenin on hand to give a few pointers to those who’d not been paddling before, the Big Paddle Llanberis was quickly in full swing.
Outside the Palm Store the Paddle Plugs, Canoe Wales and Llanberris Mountain Rescue teams were busy setting some times on the Ergo Challenge and then challenging others to beat them. Surprise surprise one of the raft guides from Canolfan Tryweryn took home the best time over a two hundred metre dash.
Back down by the waterside, near lunch time, paddlers were taking a rest from trying boats or coming back from sessions. Marshmallows were being roasted on the Bushcraft fire but for those wanting something a little more hearty, Tŷ Newydd Organics were cooking up a some tasty treats. The Harlequin paddler took his turn sitting in his boat raising his hands for help and trying to catch the ropes from the Throwline Challenge contestants.
The sun was now brilliant in the sky and as groups headed back out for sea kayak workshops with Olly Sanders or skills sessions with Chris Eastabrook and Lowri Davies. The strange mountain of cardboard that had been built began to move as construction began for the grand cardboard canoe race. By mid afternoon the armada of boats were cleared from the inlet, and marker buoys were set out. A motley crew of home made kayaks and canoes lined up for the finale. With names like Undersea Voyageur, Fragility and Sea Serpent the racers lined up for a Le Mans start. Three .. Two … One … Go – off they went into the water. Sitting, kneeling and in some cases swimming straight away the home spun boats set off. Pit crews and fans cheered them on and the racing was fierce until the boats still afloat finally touched the shoreline again and winners were crowned.
And then it was over, as happy paddlers headed up to the shop to take advantage of the sale and say their goodbyes the site quietened down. The trailers of boats were loaded up and the bushcraft fire dwindled and was put out. The Big Paddle Tour stop number one was over. If you like the sound of this, then please join us next time thebigpaddle.com/thames-shepperton