Saturday 18th October saw quite a high tide and my friend Paul had alerted me to this a few weeks ago. I’d long wanted to paddle the Dwyryd estuary near Porthmadog in North Wales after spotting the trip outlined in the Welsh Guide some years ago.
The guide says that the trip is only worthwhile when there is an 8.5m tide at Liverpool. At Liverpool it was in fact 9.5m and at Porthmadog I believe it was the maximum 5.1m. The estuary dries rapidly on the ebbing tide and there is a danger of being left floundering high and dry on the sand banks if your timing is wrong.
Bromsgrove & Redditch MC have a climbers hut at Tremadog, and it is there that myself, Paul and Mel stayed on Friday night, launching early the following morning from Borth-y-Gest on the flooding tide.
High tide was at 11:15 BST and it was an easy paddle across the estuary, around the headland and past Portmeirion, apparently famous as the setting for the cult 60’s TV show "The Prisoner" – shown before my time. The tide was flowing quite rapidly by the time we reached the wooden toll bridge near Penrhydeudraeth and it was fun to play in the current being swept through under the wooden support structure. It felt strange to see the river running in the "wrong" direction in what would normally be thought of as up stream.
Paddling further on the sea gave way to river with the contrast in scenery and myself, Paul and Mel enjoyed a pleasant, stress free, effortless paddle on the still incoming flooding tide. Eventually we made the bridge at Maentwrog 5 minutes before the predicted high tide. Our timing couldn’t have any better ! We sat under the double bridges and ate an early lunch feeling happy with our trip planning.
After a lengthy rest the tide had started to ebb and the three of us joined what we hoped would be a free ride back to Borth-y-Gest. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite as easy as we had hoped for with a strong head wind to contend with all the way back. We had concerns over "wind-over-tide" conditions on the return journey, but thankfully big seas didn’t materialise and apart from the strong wind we returned to our stating point well before the estuary dried out.