Paddlers, rafters and swimmers are staging a ‘mass paddle’ to the Senedd to raise awareness of the access issues faced by those taking part in recreational water activities.
The paddle across Cardiff Bay has been organised in support of a petition calling for legislation to establish public rights of access to land and water, currently being discussed by the Welsh Government. Taking part will be one of the UK’s most accomplished freestyle kayakers, Lowri Davies, as well as former GB canoe polo squad member Frances Bateman.
Lowri holds the 2016 Nile River Festival ladies’ freestyle champion title, as well as being European and four-times British freestyle champion, a talented coach and a worldwide white water expedition paddler. Frances is an experienced sea and white water kayak coach who, in 2011, suffered a brain injury whilst playing rugby, leading to permanent disability.
Many thought this would end her paddling career but, after using slalom and sprint canoeing as part of her rehabilitation, she went on to compete in national and international sprint competitions and won a silver medal with GB Para-canoe at the World Sprint Championships in Milan in 2015.
The event on February 14 has been organised by Waters of Wales, a volunteer community campaigning for responsible shared access for all recreational water users. Waters of Wales is supported by national governing bodies British Canoeing and Canoe Wales, along with the Open Canoe Association.
WoW spokesperson Pam Bell said: “For much of the time, the waters of Wales are enjoyed by a wide range of users. However, there are some who believe that they are, or should be, entitled to exclusive access to the water and waterside, which can lead to conflict between different users and landowners.
“We hope to attract as much support as possible for the mass paddle, which will be an inclusive and fun way to highlight this important issue.”
Paddlers will set off from Cardiff Sailing Centre, near the Cardiff Bay Barrage, at 11am, arriving at the Senedd buildings for a quayside rally at 11:30am.