Thursday, 23 October 2014

When Scotland forgot how to rain

So August in Scotland was really wet at first. In fact, I paddled the Orchy on high which pretty awesome. Then it stopped raining. In fact it didn't start raining again until October. So the end of August and all through September were pretty dismal as far as kayaking prospects went. All was not lost though, so here're some rivers that do go (ish) in drought conditions.

The Tummel
A dam release river, this runs every weekend between the start of June and the end of September. Most of the river is grade 2/3 with two harder drops, S bend (3+) and the Linn of Tummel (easy 4). It's pool drop style, so ideal for coaching. Here are some photos from the end of August with STAUCC on their preseason training.

At the dam.

Coaching skills on an eddy line.

Surf's up!

Constriction rapid not going so well for Jon...

Hand roll!

S bend, drop one.

S bend, drop two.

Linn of Tummel, drop one

Linn of Tummel, drop two.

Cliff jumping!

The Etive and Allt a' Chaorainn
It's debatable whether this is worth the drive, and you can't really consider it kayaking. It's more like mountain surfing with lubrication. Nevertheless at the start of September I drove over on the Saturday night to meet STAUCC at the Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum for Fish and Chips. We camped at the Kingshouse (well I slept in my car because I'm lazy like that) and made use of the pub!
The next morning we headed down and ran laps on a very low Triple step until we got bored. Some nice people took pictures of us!

We "paddled" the rest of the river to the 20 foot Right Angle falls. Jon and I couldn't be bothered inspecting, which was probably a good thing as I'm not convinced I would have been keen if I'd looked at it!

Photo by Kathryn Haddick
Just below the right angle gorge we heaved up the slope to the cars and shuttled down to the bridge. The Allt a' Chaorainn is a tributary of the Etive and access is a footpath up a mountain. We elected to only take a few boats as everyone lugging boats seemed silly. Also, if you're going to bounce down rock slides in a boat, better that it's not yours.
The first slide is called Speed and while terrifying at the top is over really quickly!

Photo by Kathryn Haddick
Next is the best slide - Ecstasy. Photos taken by various people on various cameras!

We portaged Pinball, a rather violent rapid that tends to slam you into a large cliff at high speed. The final drop is called Chasm, for obvious reasons. The first time I ran this I got confused about what to do with my paddle, so there's now a "Kirsten move" which involves just holding your paddles over your head and hoping - as pictured below.

After this there's a slog back to the cars along side the rocky riverbed.

The Findhorn Gorge
I was a little worried about this one. While people say you can always get down the Spean gorge, no matter how low it is, it's no fun. Runnable does not always mean funnable. However, it actually turned out to be not that bad.

Randolphs leap - photo by Sarah Duley.
I forgot my camera, so I don't have photos from down in the gorge. The grade four that I remember was more like grade 3, except the slot (normally grade 5) which still looked super sketchy even after a few people ran it. The walk out at the end was just as long as I remember, though!

The Meig Gorge
Now this is a good shout in low water. Since we'd done the Findhorn the day before we were only an hour's drive away. The gorge is tight and technical grade 3 and 4, but none of the rapids, with the exception of Teacup Falls, require a great deal of skill. Jon took a few photos in the gorge:

The first big drop is actually simpler than it looks.

Patrick on Teacup Falls. Boofing is a good idea as the final hole is super sticky.

The cool rock arch!

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