Photo: Jumping off the cliff at the falls
Photo:Chris on the falls
Travelling up last Friday from Southampton to Glasgow for my third WWPF gave me time to reflect on how little boating I’ve been doing lately and how much I needed the weekend festivus to sate the need for rocks and water.
Photo: Arrghh…Paddlers everywhere.
I met Chris, Stu, Andy and Shane at our accommodation (by way of a lift with Paula ) and a few relaxing late night beers were in order. An early-sish start the next day and we scouted the Allt Muhic which was looking a little on the low side. Knocking that one on the head we headed over to the Morriston (for the Saturday dam release).
Photo: One of the rapids on the Morrsiton
The festival is always a great time to catch up with the folk who regularly travel high and low in search of good whitewater. And this year was no exception. We ran the upper section twice and the highlight for me being the first drop.
Photo: Chris on the top drop
It was then over to the Nevis centre for beers, raffle and dancing (if it can be called that).
Every year the Kingfisher Canoe Club based in Abingdon (Abs Vegas), Oxford, UK, host an informal freestyle competition on the abingdon weir. All are welcome to attend and its a super fun event. Points are awarded for things like, best costume, blasts, backwards blasts, window shade, air guitar etc…you get the picture.
Photo: Andy W. with the old paddle toss
Photo: Duncan having a blast (backwards no less!)
Photo: My, my what a big boat you have Jen!
Photo: Oh yeah…Don’t Stop Believing… air guitar central baby.
A really blooming fun day out for all. I did sublux my shoulder tho; my first kayaking shoulder injury in 20 years of boating. Typical..ya travel the world paddling all this ‘gnarly’ crap and then you whip ya shoulder out on your local playspot…all improving now now. Happy days!
Photo: Rick -your paddle twirl is more old skool than chalk and a blackboard. You rock my friend!
Photo: Chris going snorkeling in the Thames…yuk!
We has such a fab time in italy, even with the fluctuating river levels- too high, too low…who cares when you are in good company surrounded by good food, wine and scenery.
The Chuisella is up there in terms of world famous rivers- it being most noted for the site of the European Teva Mounatin Games. I’d been eyeing this river up for over 2 years and after we left the Soana we headed for its headwaters. On route to the Chiusella, I was a bit in awe, psyching myself up to run what would undoubtedly be one of the most challenging rivers I was likely to ever run.
Photo by Stylee Iley: Ewart as an angel, wings by Dan.
Upon arrivaal we saw that the river had little water in it and decided to wait to the next day to see if it came up at all. We spent the evening wild camping under tarp and making funny photos.
Photo: Dan Westaway on the lower Chiusella
After some rain, the river rose and we went to inspect. dan and I found places to scout 1/2 way down the run and were met with a thunderous amount of water falling over the drops. A quick phonecall to Westgarth confirmed our suspicions that we now had too much water to run the river and we opted for the lower section of the same river.
The river was full on from the get-go. Drops, boofs, flares, and PORTAGES. Pretty much continuous class 5. We managed 2.5 miles in about 5 hours- highlighting the amount of times we were getting out and scouting. Some lovely rapids tho and well worth a paddle.
Photo: Chris with a nice boof
A fantastic river; and we will return another time to paddle the upper section!
Photo: DJ Ewart playing some banging choons on the torch picture decks.
With the lack of rain in the Sesia Valley we decided to cut our losses and head over to the Aosta Valley. We had a a little poke around the tributaries to the Soana to see if there was much running but there were not many goods on offer, unfortunately.We cut our losses for the day and set up camp on the beach at the get out for the main run on the Soana.
Photo: Man (not) make fire!
It was so beautiful there, with the granite rocks amongst the lushious green valley backdrop. While Dan cooked rissoto, the guys made fire, or at least tried for 1 hour until the lighter became distinctly more appealing.
Photo: The Flaming Sambuca!
The following morning, we headed up to the power station get-in. With every turn the river seemed to reveal a bit more of its true beauty. There were several constrictions and plenty of spots to get some boofs in.
Photo: Andy on one of the nice drops
Photo: Ewart boofin’ away. Oh so colourful.
Photo: Dan with a nice boof.
There was one major rapid just before a dam. Andy ‘stylee’ Isley was the only person in our group to run it. Although the drop was actually okay (although defo a V), the drop afterwards was a mandatory portage at the levels we had, and if you screwed up the main drop, that hole was waiting to swallow you whole. Definitely a keeper.
Photo: Andy on the class V drop.
After this drop and the dam that followed, the river mellowed out slightly, but with some technical Class IV and V.
Photo: Dan on what turned out to be quite a technical drop.
Photo by Corkage: Stylee Iley …Hammer-Time!
Photo by Corkage: Me with a rail grab
A spectacular run indeed and I would highly recommend a day trip here (or stay for longer like us) for a change from the Val Sesia usual runs.
Levels in the Sesia valley were low but we stayed a few days in Campertogno and managed a run on Alpine. Alpine sprint was fantastic and the low levels enabled us to run Mollia- one of the more challenging rapids in the locale. The bottom hole kicked two peoples butt’s and was definitely a painful encounter by all accounts…but a good, steep rapid to run.
Photo by Andy: Mr Westaway on Mollia
Photo: Entering Campertogno
A beautiful run down this classic stretch of river, followed by lunch at the campsite. We paddled from the campsite down on the Middle Sesia, portaging the mandatory portage at river level. Some fun rapids along the way followed by ice-cream at the get out. Does life get any better?
Photo by Andy: Me on a little drop.
Photo: Corkage was wearing the best t-shirt; never a truer word written!
The northern Italian alps are a popular destination for kayakers from all over europe. One valley in particular, namely Val Sesia, offers some of best localised boating for this time of year. I stayed at Campertongno for the first time last year and experienced the prime white water goods and so when the Exeter Boys asked me along with them this year, how could I refuse?
Photo: Ewart starring as Timmy Mallet…
We caught the eurotunnel and set off on our mammoth journey taking in France, Belgium, Luxemberg, Germany, Switerland and finally Italy. We were forced to rest for a while in Switzerland when we’d run out of petrol and the filling station was closed. Some of us contorted ourselves into weird shapes to sleep for a few hours in a gear filled car, while others set up bivve-camp on the grass at the petrol station. And there was no way we were budging from there without our morning espresso.
Photo: Our petrol station camp.
Caffeine and croissant fuelled we travelled around the stunning Lac Maggiore and through the small villages to Campertogno in Val Sesia. Setting up camp and eating lunch in a mahussive downpour, we discussed what we should run first. With all the rivers low on water, we decided on the customary Sorba slides. Gronda was far too low to run and Sorba had enough to run the slides; thankfully. Ewart was a bit crippled after the long car journey with his dodgy back and charged himself with the title of official photographer.
Photo by Ewart: Andy on slide number 1
Photo by Ewart: Me going off slide number 2
Photo by Ewart: Booftastic dude! Dan on slide number 3
After 4 or 5 laps it was back to the campsite to partake in a game called “drink like a pirate”…bring on the flaggon of cheap red wine!!!
Photo: Oh no me heartys the flaggon be empty…crack open the next…arrrrrr.
Photo: Wise Corkage say….”raise your hand when you tell a funny to ensure laughter!”
Ptoto by Andy: Everybody loves Ewart…need I say more