ShePaddles white water festival at the Tryweryn 2024

Last weekend was the ShePaddles white water festival at the Tryweryn and I was lucky enough to be part of it! There were an amazing 52 women signed up as participants and they were joined by an array of talented coaches and organisers. It was a really brilliant weekend and I was thrilled to be asked to attend on behalf of Pyranha Kayaks. I had such a good time that I wanted to write a blog article in order to tell people all about it!


I arrived on Saturday morning just in time for the opening briefing from event organiser Annette. A marquee had been set up to be used as a base for the weekend (thanks River Legacy) and I joined everyone in there for Annette’s talk. Annette is a ball of positivity and enthusiasm and her upbeat attitude was mirrored in the coaches who were there to run the sessions for the weekend.

Annette (second from the right) chatting to participants and full of smiles! Photo: Tom Clare

As Annette was talking, I looked around the room and felt something so special. White water kayaking is a sport where, for whatever reason, male paddlers massively outnumber female paddlers. To be in a room of women who were all intent on their goals for the weekend, eager to push themselves out of their comfort zones and get as much out of the weekend as possible was quite something. You could feel the buzz of excitement amongst the paddlers and I just thought to myself – wow! How wonderful to be a part of something this special!

So many amazing moments on the water all weekend! Photo: Tom Clare

I know that not everyone agrees with female only kayaking events and I myself used to be a little sceptical as to whether or not they were needed. However, having been part of quite a few ShePaddles events now, I am fully in support of the positive difference they can make to both those paddlers who attend and to female participation in the sport in general. It provides a safe and supportive environment for women to push themselves and work on skills that they might not otherwise be comfortable doing in a mixed group.

Happy on ski jump! Photo: Tom Clare

What was really lovely was to meet many male paddlers over the weekend who were associated with the participants who were taking part in the festival (university clubs, partners, friends). All the men I met over the weekend were thrilled that their female associates were involved in the festival and were excited for what they would get out of it. Thank you to all paddlers out their supporting women in paddling!

Focused and determined! Photo: Tom Clare

Annette sorted out everyone into their groups and then it was time to get on the water! There were so many coaches involved over the weekend and each coach had around 4 paddlers they were working with at a time. The groups were working on different skills or sections of the river but many groups started at the top of the upper Tryweryn and worked their way down. There were also some groups working on the lower Tryweryn and one group rafting.

Working hard on the Upper Tryweryn! Photo: Tom Clare

I proceeded to have an absolute lovely morning of kayaking and chatting to people! It was beautifully sunny and I started at the top of the Upper Tryweryn. I spent most of the morning lapping the upper and lower Graveyard section and in between laps would chat to women along the way. There were about 4 groups working on the Graveyard section and it was brilliant to see how much variety there was in terms of skills being worked on. Freestyle, forward paddling, surfing, rock splatting, catching eddies and more!

Tamsyn McConchie coaching her group on the lower Graveyard. Photo: Tom Clare

I would occasionally have to stop my conversation as I realised their coach was ready to move on (sorry Nic!) but would make up for it by providing demonstrations of how to do (or possibly how not to do) certain moves on the river. I ended the morning by lapping ski jump which is always good fun and certainly wakes you up! Realising it was now lunch time and I had only got half way down the river, I did one more run of ski jump before getting out and heading back to the marquee. A long lunch break was a great opportunity to chat even more with people and hear about their successes of the day so far.

Me on ski jump! Photo: Tom Clare

After lunch, the groups swapped round and everyone started on their second session of the day. I took a similar approach to the morning and would lap different sections, taking breaks to talk to people and generally have a good laugh! Towards the end of the afternoon I found myself back on the lower Graveyard and it was virtually empty! I think I joy surfed the waves here for a good part of the next hour. I paddled down from this section with a sore core but a happy soul!

Smashing it! Photo: Tom Clare

One much needed shower later and I was back in the River Legacy marquee enjoying a refreshing lemonade! River Legacy are a paddling charity which support events and in doing so raise money which is used in helping to get people out on the rivers. So my lemonade tasted extra yummy knowing it was for a good cause!

Laura Wynne coaching her group! Photo: Tom Clare

Dinner was provided by the fabulous team over at the cafe and by 7pm, everyone was fed, happy and back over in the marquee for the evening talk. Lowri Davies, a UK kayaking legend and also one of the coaches for the weekend, was providing the talk on her adventures to the Zambezi. Whilst paddling the Zambezi might not be on everyone’s list of life goals, I think everyone could appreciate hearing about her awesome adventures. It was a great talk with the highlight being watching a video of Lowri float down quite a chunky Zambezi rapid on her inflatable unicorn! What a woman! A lovely chilled evening of chatting and laughter in the marquee followed.

Lowri styling it on the Graveyard section of the Tryweryn! Photo: Tom Clare


Sunday morning came and with it a breeze which was very welcome given how many midges seem to be currently residing at the Tryweryn this Summer! Meeting for a staff catch up, I was presented with the exciting opportunity to coach for the day alongside the wonderful Cara McNamara. After a group photo and handing out many angry fish sponges (thanks Pyranha!), our little group of 4 headed to the top of the Upper section.

ShePaddles white water festival at the Tryweryn 2024! Photo: Tom Clare

We got on and ended up splitting into 2 groups. I took my 2 paddlers up to the little wave below the bridge by the rafting get on. Both of my paddlers happened to be called Dani and were absolutely awesome! We had a great session working on using river features to move ourselves around the river. So using the waves, holes and eddy lines in helping us to break in and out of the flow and ferry glide. We ended up moving up above the chipper as there were some great practice spots just there.

Learning to paddle with the water and not against it is a useful skill for kayaking! Photo: Tom Clare

I really enjoy coaching but don’t get to do it as often as I would like so having the opportunity to get a whole day of coaching was really nice! Both Dani and Dani had a great attitude and really committed themselves to giving everything a go and reflecting on their paddling as we went along. They did really well, made lots of progress and (I hope) had as good a day on the water as I did!

Dani collecting her Pyranha Kayaks sponge in the morning!

Finally it was time to get off! The Danis got off and I paddled down to end the lap, stopping for a quick surf break on the lower Graveyard of course! I was quite tired by the time I had got off and changed but feeling incredibly satisfied by the whole weekend. It had been rewarding, fun, inspiring, social and just generally really wholesome. I said my goodbyes and thank you to everyone before heading off home – tired but extremely happy!

Thank you

A huge thank you to so many people for pulling off a fantastic weekend! Including….

  • Annette and all of the Tryweryn staff who were involved in the organisation and running of the weekend.
  • All of the incredible coaches who put on such worthwhile and motivational sessions.
  • All of the brilliant participants! I had so many interesting conversations over the weekend and was continually blown away by how focused, resilient and determined every paddler I met was! Everyone was incredibly supportive of each other and it made for such a welcoming and encouraging atmosphere throughout the weekend.
  • Pyranha Kayaks for letting me represent them and for proving the sponges. (Big shout out to Mollie who was also there for the weekend).
  • The River Legacy crew for proving the marquee, the bar and refreshments!
  • Tom (my lovely husband) who took all these great photos that I’ve used in this article. All photos can be found here.

I can’t wait until next year! Thanks for having me!

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