03 August 2008

A Scottish Summer Morning

More Random Meetings...

However, this one had been in the pipeline a bit longer than the rendezvous with the paddlers on Friday. In fact I had laid the seeds to this meeting on the Wednesday when I posted a message on the UK Rivers Guidebook; that mighty fine resource for meeting paddlers and chatting about all things paddle related. With in hours of my first post I had interest and soon after it was all organised that we would be meeting at the Faskally Power Station, which is where the run of the lower Tummel finishes. It just happens that, that was the river we were also going to be descending.

I pulled up at the car park, got changed, sat in the back of the van and waited for the guys to arrive from Edinburgh. Whilst sat there I watched the raft guides organising their clients when one guide headed in my direction. It was an acquaintance I had met a few times on previous occasions through a friend back in Preston. Chat soon followed, whilst I waited for the guys to arrive, and I think I now have someone to go and paddle the Moriston with when I next get a Tuesday afternoon free. Anyway, back to the day's activities. The group I was waiting for soon arrived, greetings were exchanged and soon we were heading for the bottom end of Loch Tummel where the run begins.

One of the guys I arranged to meet on the river, below the dam at the end of Loch Tummel.

To say that the dam was releasing water into the river it was still a scrape at times and there wasn't much depth to a lot of the river until the last third of it. Anyway the opening rapids were good and there was a lot of manoeuvring to be done to get around the submerged and protruding rocks.

One of the first class three rapids.

We descended the river at a fair pace and at times we were spread out amongst the two separate raft flotillas. It's been a while since I've been up close and personal with a raft. In fact I think the last time was when I was in France working from the rafts myself on the Durance.

S-Bend rapid was a nice experience in a kayak and a rather unpleasant viewing experience when you watched the rafts high-siding their way down the narrow corridor of water made by the bed rock. It was all good fun and the guides shared a friendly word or two with us as we stood and watched their clients jump in the deep pool at the bottom of the rapid. We headed on downstream and soon we were at the finale to the river. The Linn of Tummel. I went down with an image in my head of the line I wanted, decided by previous visits where I've just walked along the bank, and I think I could say I hit it to some degree.

A raft on the Linn of Tummel about to throw a few clients overboard.

One of the group on the Linn, off line and about to land on a fairly solid rock.

It was another good paddle with some random kayakers and it sure as hell shows the community spirit in the kayaking world when you go out paddling with people who just respond to a single message you leave on a kayaking chat room. I headed back to site via Pitlochary for dinner then went up into the Craigvinean Forest for a bit of a cycle in the afternoon. I can safely say it was a smashing day.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

02 August 2008

Big Water Friday

Over the last few days Perthshire has seen a fair bit of rain. In no way what so ever could I say it has been dry here ir even sunny in the slightest. Over Thursday night through to mid-day Friday you could safely say it didn't stop raining. This only meant one thing to me: get out the Rocker for a change, strap on a pair and get paddling.

I was running a zipwire session Friday morning. It just happens that the zipwire I was on runs over a very small burn. Whilst sitting at the bottom waiting for kids to come off the wire I had a few cheeky peeks at the burn and reckoned it would go. That was my lunch hour planned. Lunch came, I kitted up and went and paddled down the burn.

In the burn underneath the zipwire.

To be honest there was no where near enough water in the burn for it to be paddleable. The trip consisted of me ditching my paddle and just pulling myself over the rocks and occasionally floating parts. It was a good laugh, it entertained me, some of the other staff and the guests that were lurking around. At this point I decided I would be paddling later in the day. It would be rude to waste all this water. I therefore had an afternoon as a Teacher Group Leader on Giant Swing and then Raft Build before packing my van up for a short kayaking trip down the Braan from below the Hermitage down to the car park.

On the Braan below the Hermitage.

One word to sum the river up: stonking. It was the highest I had ever seen the Braan. It was huge, flowing brown and was an awesome spectacle to behold. Standing in the viewing platform looking down on the Hermitage Fall puts everything into perspective when it comes to the power of water when it was at this level. It was awesome. Anyway I got on the river, below the fall and messed around for a good while on the small set of grade 3 rapids. I got out and repeated these rapids before heading off down the river to the car park.

This was where the evening got really good. On getting back to the van there was another car parked next to it with a Pyranha Burn on its roof and a chap getting changed next to it. Friendly chat followed, like expected when any kayakers meet at a car park. A few minutes later I had been invited to paddle the Mad Mile with this fellow and his two mates who arrived soon after. They kitted up, I changed into my dry suit, the cars were loaded and we were soon at Rumbling Bridge.

The chap I met at the car park below Rumbling Bridge.

The Mad Mile was awesome. Full on excitement from start to finish. It was awesome. The whole situation we were in. It was a summer's evening in Scotland, the weather was admittedly bad, but we were paddling a solid Scottish class four at a good level with a group of sound guys who loved paddling. We all walked Splitter and Coffin Falls just because it was getting late and dark and the consequences wouldn't have been nice at that time of night if something had hit the fan rather quick. What a great evening. I managed to tick off a new stretch of river which is revelled at by Scottish boaters on purely a fluke meeting.

I'm off paddling again tomorrow.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...