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Winter paddle boarding trip: the 2 most beautiful mountain lakes in the south of Wales

16 january 2020
My name is Kris Roach and I live South Wales. I’m lucky enough to live only a short drive away from the Brecon Beacons National Park. This park in de south of Wales has a lot of beautiful mountains, hills and… perfect lakes to go supping! Like most of the outdoor enthusiasts I’ve got that wanderlust, but the reality is that we can’t all just quit our jobs and go travel full time. So I escape often to the mountains with my sup to get my fix.

After reaching Ben Nevis (the highest point in the UK) in 2018 with my Duna sup, I started reflecting what my most beautiful supping moments were. One of those moments was visiting Lynn y Fan Fawr in February 2017. Snow capped mountains, frozen lakes and a perfect blue sky were part of that experience. The view from the water was absolutely amazing and you have to experience this in your life. From this moment I set myself the challenge to chase the snow in the mountains with my SUP. That’s why this winter I packed my SUP again and went on a new winter adventure.

My two favorite mountain lakes in the snow

Lynn Y Far Fawr (translated: Lake of the big peak). This lake is located at a height of 605 meters and sits beneath Fan Brycheiniog. I hiked up from Trecastle road following a river up to the lake. This hike takes about 45 to 60 minutes.

My second favorite lake is Lynn Cwn LLwch (Pen-Y-Fan, Brecon Beacons) which is located at a height of 569 meters. Legends say that on May Day, a door opens trough a rock on the lake to a magical island with fairies for those who are brave enough to pass. I hiked up for about 90 minutes to get from Pont Yr Daf to Corn Du and then head down to the lake.

How to plan mountain supping during winter.

As snow isn’t guaranteed in the United Kingdom/Wales, there isn’t a guide to winter sup. Even though supping is a low risk sport, it’s important to know what your capabilities are. Because at first, you are carrying a big bag with a weight of approximately 15kg.

The restrictions or opportunities to go mountain supping in the snow are going to be based on how far you want to go. Some people don’t understand why I wade myself through the snow while carrying a big bag to get onto a freezing lake. I personally think it’s amazing to experience these raw conditions in Wales. The Lynn Y Fan Fawr can have a beautiful Icelandic view, and the fact that it’s like on my doorstep makes it even better. Because snow isn’t guaranteed over here, it’s even more priceless to paddle in those conditions. Sometimes the snow will only be around for a day, so planning and timing is important. A snow dance can help too. Ha ha! I also pray to the snow gods.

Throwback to a funny moment

I headed to Llyn Y Fan Fawr once, and I could see a mountain rescue helicopter. At first I hoped that they were just on a training exercise and nobody was in trouble. It seemed that they headed towards Penyfan and a few hours later they came back above the lake. I just packed my stuff after finishing my supping session and I started to make my way back down. The helicopter kept hovering above me while I was waist deep in the snow, so I think someone had reported me for being in trouble, Ha! I think this what animals do when vultures fly over them… “Just keep moving Kris... They will go, just look aliveÂÂÂö Haha. Thankfully, they didn’t land.

But what happens if I fall in?!

Well, my advice is: Just go for it, it’s amazing!

It would be good to have a certain amount of supping and hiking experience, as you don’t want to call the mountain rescue team. Over the last year I’ve focused on being comfortable in cold water. I try to take a dip in the lakes as much I can during the winter. Just in case I fall accidentally, I can at least control my own breathing. I’ve been lucky enough stay dry during the last two winters, but I’m never going to take any risks in the snow. Obviously, there is no substitute for a wetsuit, gloves, boots and safety for PFD.

During winters, I pack a lot more for my tours. The weight of my bag can go up to 20kg.

My bag during supping sessions contains:

Jobe Duna
Carbon paddle
• Alpkit bru kit
• Stove top
• Water
• Protein bars
• I always go with 3 layer system
• Neoprene socks
• Emergency blanket
• Spare base layers
• GoPro
Phone pouch
• Waterproof Boots

Make sure you’re always prepared when you go supping in these extreme winter temperatures. But don’t forget the enjoy the beauty of nature and the relaxed feeling when you’re on your Jobe SUP!

See you next time,
Kris Roach

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