23 September 2009

Four Days of Activity

In a canoe on Ullswater.

My weekend began on Friday with Wild River; I was on a Level 2 Transfer course, which is allowing me to transfer onto the new UKCC scheme. To be honest it's a bit of a ball ache, but essential for my long term career development, and now having attended the course it does seem that it's all geared up to produce a better standard of paddling instructor.

Once I had finished the course, it was straight into the van for the long drive north as the following day saw the beginning of the Wet West Paddle Fest. I made it as far as the Clachaig in Glen Coe, where I grabbed a couple of cheeky pints of Thatchers before bumping into Jimmy Saville and retiring to the van.

Jimmy Saville in the Clachaig.

Once the after effects of the Thatchers had been slept off it was back on the road to Invergarry for some light hearted fun on Scotland's classic play run, the Garry. I ended up arriving at the river with no one to paddle with, but as soon as I stepped out of the van, which I had got stuck in a pile of grass cuttings, I had a fine selection of people to paddle with. This was a familiar theme throughout the weekend, and it was a good opportunity to catch up with past paddling buddies.

Plastic fantastic: one of the shorter queues for the main playhole on the river.

Looking upstream as another wave of paddlers head on downstream.

Once the Garry had been dispatched I headed back to Fort William, to stock up on calories and get ready for the evening festivities in the BA Club. It was a superb night, with even more opportunities to catch up with paddlers I've met along the way during my five or six year paddling career. I eventually retired to the van so that I was wide awake for the next day's carnage on the Morriston.

A rainbow forming in the early morning drizzle as I brewed up at the Commando Memorial.

We arrived early at the river, before the shuttle service had even begun, so we kitted up in the hope of missing the masses. However, it wasn't to be; not long after we got on the water the first minibus of paddlers turned up and it continued that way for the rest of the day. It was never too busy though. There was always space to do what you wanted to do, but at times it did prove amusing to watch paddlers pile into last chance eddies, which were already on the full side, before firing off one of the many drops found on the Morriston.

Looking back at the top drop, which never really had enough water to make the line.

Once we had completed one run, we shouldered our boats and went for another. The river had now filled up considerably with people, but unfortunately the water had not come up much more so the left hand line on the top drop still didn't look pretty in my eyes; I went for the right hand line with a big boof straight into the undercut.

Taking a face full, whilst on line styling the drop, which appeared in an Original Source advert.

One of the last rapids of the top section.

The second run of the top section was soon dispatched and after quickly loading the cars we headed off downriver to take in the delights of the lower section. If I was being honest, I wasn't really on form here - I took a swim on the slide just after the road bridge and then got a bit of a shoeing in a hole at the bottom of the last main rapid. However, this didn't spoil my weekend and once changed and the delights of the Invermorriston Village Hall's catering team had been taken in I headed south in the hope of getting some climbing in on Buachaill Etive Mor for the next two days.

Scrambling up some wet rock on Stob Beinn a Chrulaiste.

The plan of climbing didn't quite work out. I was greeted, on Monday morning, with a cloud filled Glen Coe where the rain was beating down in a horizontal direction. Climbing was off, but we did manage a morning scramble up some extremely wet rock to the top of Stob Beinn a Chrulaiste and on along to Beinn a Chrulaiste before retiring to the Ice Factor for an indoor climbing session and one last night in the Clachaig.

I awoke on Tuesday, with the hope of getting some climbing in at Polldubh, but the weather was mirroring what had hit us on Monday. So I called it a day, turned tale and headed even further south, back to Carlisle, to sort my soaking gear out. I've got to enroll at university for my second year tomorrow and then I'm heading back up Scotland for the Etive River Race at the weekend.

More pictures of WWPF 09 can be found here.

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

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