The Seiont Mass Trespass
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In the late 1980s a group of British canoeists decided that a militant approach was needed in the campaign for river access. They set up a group called CRACK - Campaign for River Access for Canoes and Kayaks.

Some years later, in early 1988, there were some access problems on the River Seiont in North Wales. There were reports of canoeists cars being scratched, or of their tyres let down, and of stones being thrown at canoeists on the river. When there was no success with access negotiations, CRACK organised a mass rally (or mass trespass).

It was quite a day. The Seiont Mass Trespass turned into a bit of canoeing folk lore. Like in any folk lore there are many different stories. This is my version.

Start Photo Sequence

Frame 1

On the chosen day about one hundred and fifty paddlers assembled for for the rally at Caernarfon Castle. To avoid any claims for legal liability there were no organised leaders of the rally. It was just a case of turn up, get onto the water, and paddle on down, making your own decisions about what you chose to do.

Frame 2

After an initial chat about what to do we then drove to the start point, and launched onto Llyn Padarn near Llanberis.

It was interesting seeing who turned up. A lot of famous faces in canoeing were there, some of whom might perhaps not be willing to admit it now (at least in public).

I have avoided the risk of embarrassing a few well known Welsh paddlers by blanking out some faces in this webpage.

Frame 3.

At the west end of Llyn Padern we entered the river Seiont, passing beneath the bridges near Pen Llyn. It was here that we realised how many spectators there were.

At least it was easy to tell who was who. There were anglers (dressed in brown), canoeist spectators (dayglo red and purple) and the police (in blue)

Frame 4.

The First Obstacle
Barbed Wire

At Pont Rythallt the anglers had stretched barbed wire across the river just above the bridge. Luckily the river was wide and shallow, so we could step out of our boats and clamber over the wire and under the bridge.

Frame 5.

Crossing the wire and then clambering under the bridge felt a bit like being in the the trenches in World War One.

I half expected a machine gun to open up and mow us down. (I think the angler's green camoulflage clothes must have been playing on my mind).

Frame 6.

Second Obstacle -
A human Chain

The real fun started at the next bridge, with a human chain of anglers across the river who were "defending" a fence under the bridge.

We tried passing the canoes through, and were blocked.

Frame 7.

Attempting Negotiations

So a couple of us tried asking politely to be let past.

We were told (quite politely) - NO.

Frame 8.

Over the Top

So we had a quick meeting and decided if you can't go through - go over.

It did not take long to get out a few throw-bags, clamber up onto the bridge, and then lower some canoeists down into the river bed, behind the backs of the anglers.

Frame 9.

This is where I made my one mistake. I was busy trying to take a good photo, and not looking where my feet were going, so I nearly caused a nasty incident by kicking an angler's head on my way down.

Frame 10.

Once a few paddlers and boats were downstream of the bridge it was fairly easy to pass other paddler's gear over the angler's heads, or between their legs.

Frame 11.

The Police were everywhere, with a policy of being non-political, and fair to both sides. They were there mainly to ensure that the day did not get violent.

With the Police watching carefully, the angler's could only be passive. They could stand in the way, but they could not stop us passing canoes over their heads.

Frame 12.

Once past this bridge we regrouped and moved on. All the human obstacles were past (apart from a few hurled stones).

Frame 13.

The river then ran away from roads and civilisation, so we were left to ourselves to enjoy what we came for - some excellent white water paddling.

Frame 14.

- and a scenic journey's end at Caernarfon Castle.

End of Photo Sequence

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