Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Ericht, Dec 3rd 2011

My first official STAUCC trip since graduating! Davey and I arrived at the boatshed and looked at the chaos with glee since we didn't have to do anything about it anymore. The plan was to head to the Blackwater, a tributary of the Ericht, which is a tributary of the Isla, which is a tributary of the mighty Tay. The Ericht runs through Blairgowrie, so it is not too far from St Andrews (compared to a lot of Scottish white water rivers). As we set off the weather was fantastic - the sun was shining! However it was a bit damp when we reached the Bblackwater and the river was a little on the high side. Some umming and ahing later we decided to bravely retreat and do the Ericht. Three of the group decided this was not to their taste and got on the Blackwater anyway!
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.
River briefing!

The first swirly eddy line

Dead pike?

The takeout bridge

An interesting takeout through an old lade

Some nice person has added ladders

No comments:

Post a Comment