Disaster on the Afon Hepste

From Nick Mawer

I thought you might be interested in this cautionary tale. Especially as I keep bumping into people who know some of the story that goes with this.

Back in 1992, Richard Fish, and Paul Kuiken were sponsored by Wilderness Ways to kayak over Sgwd-yr-Eira on the Afon Hepste. As a fellow member of Teesside Poly
Canoe Club at the time, I went along as the photographer. I kept the article in my log book, but I have to say that I am not sure where the original images are.

Anyway, the Northern Echo are happy for the article below to be reproduced.

Kind Regards

Nick Mawer

-----Original Message-----
From: Christine Watson
Sent: 25 January 2005 13:18
To: Nick Mawer
Subject: re Northern Echo article

Hi Nick

Sheila has passed your request on to me and I have found the story I have asked. Peter Barron who is now the editor for permission to use the story and he has said it is ok the pictures are not stored electronically unfortunately we only have them in hard copy and as you say they are your pictures I presume you will have hard copies of them already. I enclose the electronic form of the article.

Christine Watson
Northern Echo Library

Daredevil leap ends in agony

The Northern Echo 31/03/1992


A STUDENT barred by police from canoeing over England's mightiest waterfall has been seriously injured in a daredevil river plunge. Richard Fish, 24, told from his hospital bed last night how he fractured his spine in three places when his bid to equal the world canoe freefall record for a second time went "horribly wrong." Richard was in "unbearable pain" after canoeing over the 50ft Sgwd-yr-Eira single-drop fall in South Wales and hitting the water at about 80mph. Last summer, he and fellow Teesside Polytechnic student Paul Kuiken, 19, were prevented by police from becoming the first to canoe over the 72-ft High Force waterfall in Teesdale because of fears they would be killed.

Richard said: "I was heading for a perfect landing, but leaned back and landed flat. I knew it had gone horribly wrong and it was going to hurt. "The pain was pretty unbearable. I thought it was my spine but I could move my limbs so I thought it couldn't be too bad." After being hauled out by rescuers using a rope, he was helped up 300-ft high steps and a mile-and-a-half across moorland before changing back at his car and travelling back to Middlesbrough where the extent of his injuries were discovered. He is expected to be fit again within eight weeks, but faces regular physiotherapy and has been ordered to rest completely. Only about a dozen canoeists, including Richard and Paul, have conquered Sgwd-yr-Eira in the Brecon Beacons. Paul broke three ribs when the pair achieved the feat in January. Now, they say they are going ahead with plans to go over High Force later this year. "We believe it's less dangerous because it is a staggered fall", said Richard.

Supplied by Nick Mawer