Monday, 1 October 2012

Rum, Whiskey and RAIN!

The last two weeks have been fantastic. The weather gods have blessed Scotland with both sun and rain in almost equal amounts. This is a stark contrast to the grey drizzle we are usually treated to.
Ed Smith - Below Double Drop on the Lochy
Last weekend saw Me, Debs, Sandy, Joe and Dom heading for a sunny low water weekend camping in Glen Etive. The Etive, as all British paddlers know, is the classic low water run or scrape. Despite the low levels we had a lot of fun and Dom and I even set a Strava time. Hopefully more people will give it a go and dethrone us as Kings of the River soon.

Sandy prepares the fire
Debs happy as larry!
Camping - Photo: Joe Lee
After buying the traditional bottle of rum and a nice Scotch we settled down for a night around the campfire. On Sunday with almost no water Dom and I went for another race run in which Dom overtook me on triple step and managed to keep the lead to the end of the river. Racing is so much fun! Joe decided to paddle on his own with Sandy on the bank for safety - a bold move for someone who only started paddling a year ago. He met us with a splash in the eddy below the last waterfall with a big excited smile! The only downer was the demise of my trusty Nomad which now has three cracks in the hull....oh well time for a new one I think.

The Monkey and the Kraken
Mid last week the weather turned and severe weather reports were issued for the whole of the northern UK. The rain which actually hit Scotland was a little less than we had hoped but it was still pretty dam wet. After eagerly watching the gauges Sandy and I decided to go to the Clyde. At 6am with pouring rain I set off to ride across town to get my car which is parked outside the permit zone (yes I am a student!). By the time I picked Sandy up my jeans were so wet I may as well have been swimming.

Joe on Right Angle

The Clyde was at the perfect level for what we wanted, reading Huge on Where's the Water and 1.4 on the gauge. Sandy has had his eye on a decent of Bonnington Linn for a while. Bonnington Linn is emerges out of almost nowhere and forms the start of one of the most intense sections of water in the UK. The Linn itself is a double stage drop the first of which is roughly 10ft high with a shallow landing followed by a big enough gap so that you can set up for the following 30ft stage. With both landings of a questionable depth a good boof is key.  After the drop you are immediately into a committing grade 4/5 gorge.  Following the gorge is Corra linn, a mental drop which only goes (and its questionable even then) at enormous flows (3 or so on the gauge). The last rapid on the gorge looked messy as hell and with just the two of us Sandy and I decided to try and make the only other exit point from the gorge which is quite a bit upstream, about 500 meters below the falls.

After a quick game of rock, paper, scissors I watched Sandy drop off the first lip and followed a few seconds after, with a team run being the only option for safety. A quick recovery from a less than perfect boof saw me in the perfect place on the second lip to take off. A well planted stroke saw me fly off the face of the 30ft drop with my boat past horizontal. No time to linger and grin though as the river pushes immediately into the first rapid. In the eddy for the exit it was all high fives and hugs before heading back to Edinburgh for afternoon lectures.

Eoghain on the Kinglass
Dom on the first drop of the Lochy
Once again this weekend the rain hit hard and we put a group together to make the most of it on Sunday. We headed out of Edinburgh a different way than usual. This had us in a right flap as it meant we wouldn't be going to the pie shop. This ended very badly for Me, Sandy and Dom. We chose the most expensive petrol station in Edinburgh and spent all of our student loans on three sandwiches and a bag of crisps at Marks and Spencer.

Quite a lot of nervous inspecting above Boof or Die
Me on Boof or Die - Photo: Sandy Douglas
The six of us (Me, Sandy, Dom, Dave, Eoghain and Keith) had a slightly lower than optimal run down the Kinglas. A fun 4/5 run with a few harder rapids. One of these rapids claimed Dom as a victim with a scary moment involving a siphon and a death pit. Thankfully ropes were on hand and before long we were finished and lining up the second river of the day.

Dave on a really fun drop!
The second river was the Lochy, one of the harder and more scary rivers Scotland has to offer. Keith unfortunately simply did not fit in his borrowed salto and decided to give it a miss, but the team was bolstered by the addition of Ed Smith and Dave Martin to make us a seven. The Lochy lived up to its reputation and Boof or Die had us all a little scared! Unfortunately the bottom drop was full of wood and we didn't have time to mess around removing it so a hungover portage was executed with much groaning. A fantastic day on the river by all accounts!

Well I am now very tired and have a pile of work to do to make sure I can up and leave next time it rains!

Nick Bennett