The Ladies Paddle Symposium, an aqueduct, a couple of islands and some whiskey

Earlier this month, Mark and I made our way to the Ladies Paddle Symposium, which is based out of Bala in North Wales. This was our first year at the event, and it was an absolute blast. One of the things that makes this event unique is that it provides instruction in so many disciplines. Classes were categorized into skill levels, and the disciplines to pick from were white water kayak, open canoe, sea kayak, White Water Safety Rescue (WWSR), freestyle and raft. Mark and I instructed beginning sea kayaking on Saturday and intermediate sea kayaking on Sunday. On Saturday evening I ran Yoga for Paddlers, which was so popular that we ran out of space. All in all it was a great event and wonderful to meet so many enthusiastic ladies.

Balancing exercises.

There are lots of ways to play around in a kayak.

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Limits were tested.

After leaving the event we headed to Llangollen, also in North Wales. Llangollen is a charming little town with a canal that runs through it. Part of the canal system contains the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which caries the Llangollen Canal over the River Dee at an astonishing height of 126 feet. Of course, we paddled it, because how often do kayakers really get to paddle over a river?

Don't look down.

Don’t look down.

Or do, the River Dee is a long way down.

The River Dee is a long way down.

After that adventure we headed north to Islay, Scotland. Islay has been on our wish list of places to go for awhile, and it was wonderful to spend a couple of days there, soaking up the peaceful island and a few of the distilleries. It was lots of fun to explore by land and then paddle along the coast for a distillery tour kayaker-style.

Mark checks out the barley which is spread on the floor of the Laphroaig malting house to germinate.

Mark checks out the barley which is spread on the floor of the Laphroaig malting house to germinate.

Whiskey is matured in oak barrels.

Whiskey is matured in oak barrels.

At the end of our tour we did a tasting.

At the end of our tour we did a tasting.

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The following day we went for a paddle.

And visited my favorite distillery one more time.

And visited my favorite distillery one more time.

After leaving Islay we headed to Oban. Oban is another wonderful place in Scotland, and one that we’ve visited a few times. It was great to be back and to catch up with some of the locals. It was also fun to paddle around Kerrera with a stop for lunch at the Gylen Castle, which was built in 1582.

A gorgeous day to paddle around Kerrera.

A gorgeous day to paddle around Kerrera.

For the first half of the trip the water was undisturbed except for the wakes from passing ferries.

For the first half of the trip the water was undisturbed except for the wakes from passing ferries.

A castle is always a good place to stop for lunch.

A castle is always a good place to stop for lunch.

After a couple of days in Oban I flew back to California to run classes locally, while Mark stuck around for a few days to run classes in Scotland.

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