Messing about in coracles

By | Category: Travel news
coracle racingr

putting the effort in to win – and he did

By my count there are twenty-one types of coracle or currach in the UK and Ireland. Now is peak season for the regattas and racing and this Saturday there is the 65th regatta at Cilgerran in north Pembrokeshire.

Coracles are circular or oval shaped boats of dodgy stability whilst being difficult to paddle until you get used to them. One of the oldest forms of boat, last year people came from as far away as the US and Australia to enjoy the fun at the 64th regatta. This year there may be people from even further afield since Im told there have been a wide array of accents heard in this small village.

Spectators sit on the grass at Dolbadau overlooking the river watching the fifteen plus races whilst the smell of cooking snack foods assails their senses. There are races for all including a special one for those who haven’t been in a coracle before as well as a homemade raft race. I seem to remember that one competitor’s “raft” broke up as they tried to paddle!

The coracle racing is an afternoon event during the Cilgerran Festival buy visitors in the area for a whole day can either spend the morning at Cilgerran Castle or by heading out into Cardigan Bay where, this year, pods of dolphins and their offspring have been widely seen even to the extent that TV crews have been out looking around.

At Cilgerran you will see Teifi and Tywi coracles. At the Carmarthen River Festival on the bank holiday Saturday, the racing doesn’t begin until 4pm but it does end with a candlelight procession and music from the Carmarthen Male Voice Choir at 8pm to remember those that the river has taken over the years. As well as coracle racing there is a cardboard box boat race and a river tug-of-war.

On the bank holiday Monday, the action switches to England.  After seeing the Welsh style coracles, you could head to Ironbridge in Shropshire where you’ll see the Ironbridge variety which is more bowl shaped. Their regatta starts at midday and has starter races as well.

And then the year really ends for the coracle raceers. Those that still have the skills teach others, take their coracles onto the rivers and a few still have licences to fish. For the rest of us the fun is largely over until next year.


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