Some cunning shuttling later we arrived at the Ericht put in and started down the steep side of the gorge. This time I managed to not slide most of the way down on my behind (and it's a loooooong way down), though Davey was not so lucky. The water was somewhat chilly when we got there but that didn't deter one of the group from testing it out on the first eddy line. The river was at a nice medium level and we paddled on down with only a couple of mishaps involving swimmage/rolling. One grade 3 rapid is particularly memorable as the sun was shining very brightly directly into our faces as we paddled down, so all that was visible was a mass of white! I knew from previous runs that there wasn't anything scary there but the others were a bit more worried. Soon we were at the pipe across the river where I had gotten out on previous runs, both times due to not wanting any swimmers going over the scary weir. Said weir has now collapsed and is runnable with due care. We scrambled up the bank at the takeout bridge and slogged up to the car park.
The three drivers (including me) quickly changed and got going up to the other vehicles. When we reached the Blackwater takeout we had a quick shifty but couldn't see any sign of the others. This was slightly unsettling as we hadn't exactly gone quickly down the Ericht. Deciding just to give them some more time we drove up the glen through some snow showers and got the car from the top of the river. Patrick drove down to sit at the takeout and wait for them. Upon reaching Blairgowrie those changing at the bottom discovered a text from the Blackwater group saying they were just going to paddle all the way to Blairgowrie. The Blackwater runs into the Ericht, it couldn't be that hard, right?
Now there is a little known fact you should be aware of: The deepest sheer sided gorge in Scotland is called Craighall gorge. It is on the River Ericht below Bridge of Cally (the takeout for the Blackwater). The whitewater in it is relatively simple with the important exception of one rather scary unrunnable drop that is exceptionally difficult to portage. However, all was well, they survived! We did have to go driving around looking for Patrick though, who had assumed the worst and was white as a sheet when we found him.
|The first swirly eddy line|
|The takeout bridge|
|An interesting takeout through an old lade|
|Some nice person has added ladders|