Wild Wales in Winter 2017

ULKC Paddlers in Wales. Photo courtesy of Diarmaid Moloney

The trip started as it went on, nineteen paddlers, waking at a ridiculous hour all in the name of the glorious sport we call kayaking. With the vehicles packed and ready to go we left from UL with excitement and encouraged by members who had gone before that it’s some of the best paddling we’ll ever do. The trip to the fabled Jesse James Bunkhouse consisted of a lot of sleeping and wondering why Welsh has such a lack of vowels in the language.

Upon arriving we were left loose on the rooms to choose our beds for the week. It was a tough competition where friendships ran thin and the scars resulting from it can still be seen today. After a quick trip to the local paddle shop and an early night we were truly settled in to our new surroundings in rural Wales.  The next few mornings the early risers of ULKC were most definitely rewarded by what they found at the river.

The question of why go to Wales in the middle of winter was without a doubt answered by the wonder that is the River Dee. A river that suits all levels of paddling. One of the best places to practice beginner skills and has the famous ‘Serpent’s Tail’ rapid for those who wanted to push their paddling to the next level. As the week went on there were repeat trips to the Dee along with trips to the Afon Llugwy and the mighty Tryweryn. Amidst all this kayaking we took a rest day under the surface of the earth to an underground trampoline cavern. A scene to make our own trampoline club jealous.

Sinead Ní Raghaill on The River Dee in Wales Photo credit Eoghan Calnan

Sinead Ní Raghaill on The River Dee in Wales Photo credit Eoghan Calnan

It’s safe to say after a week in Wales nineteen paddlers were truly introduced to a ULKC international trip. After the long journey home, the tired but enthusiastic group cleaned the boats and made their best attempt to merge back into normal society. For many it was their first international kayak club trip but I doubt it will be their last.

ULKC Donegal Trip 2016

Here’s a summary of this years January trip to Donegal written by one of our member’s, Joe Doyle.



On a fine, crisp winters morning the UL kayak club set off on yet another one of our notorious end of semester trips. This year we went to Donegal for a week of intense kayaking and seeing a few sights around the north.

January 16th we set off from the UL boathouse with a minibus and sprinter loaded up with some of the finest kayaks and kayakers ever to grace the university… Kind of.  To kick start the journey we had to endure a 3 hour packing session that involved the essential spice bag break. 6:30pm we were off on the road eager to get at some of the rivers in Donegal.

On the first day we took on the great ‘Duff’ river but thankfully in low levels of water as it becomes an entirely different river with a bit of rainfall in the surrounding areas. It was a short river requiring some skill and thought to take on. Thankfully we had some adrenaline hungry paddlers ready to get on at a moments notice. We hopped into our gear and got straight into our kayaks to take on the elements of the Duff. With twists and turns at every corner followed by three drops we soon found ourselves staring at the horizon line of a 13ft waterfall at the end of the river. Hearts beating out of our chests we paddled on straight towards it one by one (once the safety had been set up). Personally, coming up to the very edge I didn’t have time to think as soon as I  could see the bottom I was already in the air charging on down towards the water. One brief moment of weightlessness and it was all over with screams of joy and encouragement coming from members of the club.  It was an experience of a lifetime and not to be missed on future trips.

The next day we decided we would give our new freshers a nice old river to hone their skills and develop as proper kayakers. Guided by one of the locals we set off for the ‘Fin’, a river located in Leitrim with an easy get on and a gentle start which was all too needed for a club of kayakers who got up at 8am for it. We spent the day paddling and going over the basics. A necessity for any kayaker if we wish to improve and climb the ranks.

The next day we did the upper section of the river known by its really obvious name ‘The Upper Fin’. This river required some good skills and knowledge of how water flows which we had meticulously drilled into our freshers the day before so we were read to take on the challenge and were sailing on through with ease. This really brought up the comradery and spirit amongst the club to really see everyone improving. Of course this was followed by sandwiches and our daily trip to Aldi to ensure no paddler ever goes hungry! As someone who eats a lot I am forever grateful.

Finally! Our rest day had arrived. To celebrate a day where we could finally relax we all hopped on a bus to see the Giant’s Causeway in the Northern Ireland and walk across a famous rope bridge near-by. Seeing the Giant’s Causeway really stuck with me as I just couldn’t get over how perfectly hexagonally shaped everything was without human interference.  Truly a sight to behold and I would recommend it to anyone. Following this we made food and went to the only Decathlon in Ireland where we basically handed over our bank accounts in exchange for gear!

We spent the rest of the trip paddling the ‘Duff’ at higher waters until we finally had to say goodbye to Donegal and prepare ourselves for the start of another amazing kayak filled semester!

Alps 2013 Provisional Details

Alps 2013 Provisional Details

Details of our anual Alps Trip can be found in our Trips Section.

Every year ULKC venture to the amazing and scenic Italian and Slovenian Alps for some great rivers, sun, and banter. The trip is open to all members competent and confident on moving water or at a level three standard. This promises to be a great trip and expect your paddling to come on leaps and bounds over the course of the trip. The cost of the trip is provisionally between €450-€600. More info about the trip will be available soon or by contacting the committee at ulkayak@gmail.com

Alps Poster
Week 1
20/4/2013 – 27/4/2013
Level 4 training
Level 5 training

Week 2-3
27/4/2013 – 9/5/2013
Slovenia and Italy
Level 3 training and general paddling

Sligo Trip

Last Friday, the 22nd of March, 21 members of ULKC travelled to Sligo for a weekend of paddling fun, training and adventure. The groups stayed in holiday homes in the small seaside town of Enniscrone. On the Saturday there was an early start and the whole group went to the Deel River, a nice consistent Grade 2 river with plenty of rapids for training. This involved practicing boat maneuvering skills such as breaking in and out of the main flow on rapids, travelling across rapids as well as more advanced members practicing some safety skills and group leading skills. Saturday evening five members took on the challenge of paddling the Ballysadare rapids. This was a short but very technical and challenging set of rapids culminating with a twenty-five foot waterfall at the end. On Sunday the group Paddled the Upper Clydagh, Co. Mayo.  However due to low water levels to group only paddled a short section of the river, which included the “Five Steps” rapid.

Overall the trip was a great success and enjoyed by all. Over the next few weeks there will be many more river trips run by the club and for anyone who wants to get involved can contact the club at ulkayak@gmail.com.

Five Step Rapids, Upper Clydagh, Co. Mayo, (low water)

Level 3 Assesment

Well done to our new level three kayakers. Jack, Luke and Mark all passed their level three assessment today with Mike Jones from the UL Activity Centre and Simon McCormack (trainee instructor) on the Castleconnell.

L-R: Simon McCormack, Jack Phelan, Luke Kelly, Mark Scanlon and Mike Jones

L-R: Simon McCormack, Jack Phelan, Luke Kelly, Mark Scanlon and Mike Jones