River SUP touring with a Snowdonia backdrop

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River SUP touring with a Snowdonia backdrop

After lots of requests for details, here's a little Blog post about our unbeliveable River SUP tour from Pont Glaslyn (towards Bedgelert) all the way into Porthmadog Harbour, 3.5 hrs of fun paddling, exploring SUP routes out of our comfort Zone back in late September.

Its important that this route is paddled on the outgoing high tide, for safety and to save any board lifting and dragging over rocks, under bridges and to prevent a potential mud party into Porthmadog. So after double checking the tide times, weather, wind and river route we headed to Porthmadog to drop off a car, we left ours just in the little quay car park, paying at the Harbour Masters hut, plenty of spaces in the area, it just meant a short walk with our SUPs when we arrived. We then drove by car, back onto the high street, taking signs for the A487 Porthmadog Bypass and carried on to Penrhyndeudraeth, where we turned left up the high street on the A4085, this road a carries on up the hill, over the railway on pretty hairpin county lanes for a good 10-15mins depending on traffic. Keep on the look out for a small National Trust Carpark on the right amongst the trees, if you hit the Aberglaslyn Bridge, that looks like something out of a fairytale, you've gone too far, we were guilty of this and had to turn round in the layby and back to the Aberglaslyn National Trust Carpark, which is pay at the machine or free for NT members.

Once here we did a thorough equipment check:

-Red Paddle Co paddle board properly inflated

-Fin and leash

-Mobile phone and waterproof pouch 

-Hot and cold drinks in Hydro Flasks

-Small First Aid kit

-GoPro camera equipment

-All packed into our Red Originals Deck bag

-O'neill wetsuit boots, that we werent sure would be necesary but proved essential

-Food and snacks

Obviously there was huge car park debate and discussion about what wetsuit or clothes to paddle in, everyone went with something different and mainly what they felt warm and most comfortable paddling in, we lucked out with the weather and all ended up peeling layers off throughout the day.

Once ready and after a quick message home to say we were just setting off, we crossed over the road, carrying our SUPs on a small treelined footpath with leaves crunching under foot, even this was a feast for the eyes, wandering along the riverbank with autumn colours popping, river reflections like a mirror and the gentle sound of water trickling over rocks upstream.


After a short walk we found an area of the river bank where we could safely get into the river, helping each other with our boards and securing our deck bags and equipment we excitedly began paddling. I'm going to be honest and not put a rose tinted spin on it, it was only a few short metres before we hit some shallow rocky water and so we dragged our boards, fins lifted over the rocks before it got deeper and back on our boards to paddle again,  we probably only got off our boards a small handful of times during the whole day, I'm  guessing this will really depend on tide state and recent rain fall. Having always been so used to the vastness of paddle boarding on the open sea and the constantly changing environment, it felt very special to paddle somewhere so vastly different, it already felt like the trip was worth it.

Once into deeper areas, we were speechless paddling through tree lined tunnels with the sun shining through. So surprised at how clear the river was, making it easy to gauge the depth in some areas. It wasn't long before the river really widened, with cattle grazing on either side, just the gentle sound of gliding paddle to water and mirror reflections almost tricking the eye.

The next hour or two flew by with mix of gentle winding river paddling and a few sections of head-down paddling segments where the wind caught the river, it felt like a good work out and probably not one for a complete beginner. I almost don't want to give every tiny detail away, what made the tour was the intrigue of not knowing what was round the next corner or how far we really had to go till the finish, but numerous impressive bridges, the wildlife, the colours, submerged trees, coffee spots of dreams and the views, lets not forget the incredibly visually pleasing views, it was definitely not all about the river ahead in front of us. At one point I turned round to chat to my favourite paddle pal Harry and with eyes wide I couldn't quite believe the views of Snowdonia behind me, I'm definitely not one for selfies but I'm not going to deny, I might've got ever so slightly 'snappy-happy' with the GoPro at this point.

The long straight into Porthmadog loomed in front, seeming huge, anyone else remember throwing the 5p toll out of the car window before the bridge? come on I'm not that old and it wasn't that long ago, anyway, back to it, after a slight incident with a diving bird but that's a whole other story we headed parallel with The Welsh Highland steam train heading in the other direction who gave us a special 'toot-toot' and lots of waves from the driver and passengers which kind of made the cherry on top the day.

So heading into Porthmadog this is where it might've got a bit sticky and needs to be timed with precision because of the mud. We headed right and carried our boards over a bridge and then up and over and back on our boards the other side

We then paddled under the bridge and into low tide Porthmadog harbour to finish a perfect day paddling on the river, realising and feeling very lucky that there's so much more on our doorstep than we ever imagined. Then a quick phone call home to say we'd arrived safely and to get the kettle on ready for our return, always important before they send out the search party.

BIG THANKS to Harry and Dave who joined us on this little SUP adventure, hopefully more this autumn, any questions about this route, just send us a message, its a good'un!!

Thanks for reading, Mrs AW signing out.........