Archive for October, 2010


Its not all about kayaking (just mostly)

Last weekend the forecast promised unseasonally hot weather for the south coast of England. With no decent water to had south of the borders, it was off to some world class climbing at Portland, Dorset. I cannot believe that this gem has been right on my doorstep for the last 2 years and this is my first visit there. I must have been spending lots of time paddling instead.

IMGP0391Photo: Dave atop a nice climb overlooking the sea

The rock formations are very diverse at Portland and there are routes suitable for all tastes

IMGP0424Photo: Chris on a nice overhang

IMGP0436Photo: Dave on  a nice 6a+

IMGP0398Photo: Its called the Jurassic coast for a reason. The Fossils are amazing

You never know when climbing skills will come in handy for  kayaking.

IMGP0362Photo by Dave: me on an easy route.


Scotland Trip Video

Love editing with my new MacBook Pro…once you go Mac…blah blah blah


Sunday on the Allt a Chaorainn

The final day of our trip arrived and we woke up the sweet smell of rain. As I looked up, liquid fun was falling from the sky. Smiles. Chris and I went down to the Orchy to check levels while team Escape to Adventure went to check the levels on the Etive. The Orchy was at -1 foot in the gauge under the bridge and was a no go and I called Andy to let him know.


Photo by Bill: The Escape to Adventure wagon at the get in.

Chris and I were secretly hoping the Allt a Chaorainn maybe on the cards.As we pulled up, turns out great minds think alike because Andy suggested the very same river. Yeehaw. We kitted up and crossed the Etive to river left side at the get out to the normal Etive run. Then we hiked up the river left side of the Allt a Chaorainn. We were not disappointed with the goods we saw.


Photo by Bill: Hiking the boats up

I was amazed by what I saw on the way up.  With every mound we climbed over, the rapids looked more and more fun. It reminded me of some of the slides I’d seen in California videos, and here it was right before my eyes in Scotland.


Photo by Bill: Our team  checking out one of the 5 slides/ drops on this beauty.

P1000650Photo by Bill: Drop number 1; discussion at the top.

Andy and Stu put on while Chris and I ran safety. The plan was to run in pairs while the other two covered with safety.


Photo by Bill: Chris and I gearing up to set safety.

Andy and Stu got down fine, though Andy had a roll. Chris and I next. I went first but landed on my head while Chris styled it. On to the next drops. I covered the first while Chris covered the second sticky hole. Andy got through the first hole fine; he kind just bounded over it, but Stu was not so lucky. He got a bit of a pasting and took a swim that looked wholly unpleasant. The first rope i threw to him when he was still in his boat,  but i think it was not the best plan. When he came out of his boat, the rope had wrapped itself around his neck and as soon as I saw that I let all the slack out to allow him to get out. Then a second hole beating and Chris threw a line right on target to get him out. That was the worst swim I ever saw. Stu was fine though and took just a minute or two to recover.


Photo by Bill: Boat retrieval time.

After Stu’s swim I decided to walk the top half of that rapid, but Chris and Andy ran from the top hole down, both getting stuck in a stopper for a bit but using playboating skills to work the hole to get out.


Photo: Chris on a slide

After that it was “pinball” rapid. The levels were apparently running high for the Allt a Chaorainn and the left line on Pinball was open. Andy went first then Stu then me. Stu carried on down to the last two drops, but the rest of us got out at pinball.


Photo: Andy on Pinball

That was one of the best days of Scottish boating I ever had. I have to go back and run the hole thing next time. YAY!!!


The Garry and Spean

Wet west paddle fest was in full swing when we arrived early on Saturday morning. James Flemming drove the minibus shuttle recounting wilderness adventures from his recent trip to the Japanese Alps as we headed to the get in. We ran down the Garry stopping for a bit of play on the way.

IMGP0259Photo: Bill on the Garry

IMGP0263Photo: A dude in a Big Dog C1. This guy rocked!

We could have stayed and done laps at the Garry; but we were in Scotland for 3 days only and wanted to max out on the number of rivers we could run. So after a bit to eat we headed to the Spean Gorge. I never imagined that I would paddle this river this low. It was definitely more tame than my last trip down, but by no means and less fun.


Photo: Chris on Spean Gorge’s headbanger

The Crux move on this river is headbanger. Its class IV usually but at this level, with two exposed siphons, it probably deserved a class V rating due to consequences. We all ran it but Stu had the best line for sure…video to come.


Photo: Andy winding through the rocks. How pretty.

IMGP0286Photo: Stu going through the slot

At the end of the run we stopped to help out a fisherman who’d caught a lesser spotted tree salmon.


Photo: Who said that kayakers and fishermen cant be friends…

The we spent the evening sinking a few cold bevvies, catching up with boating buddies at the WWPF party at Nevis Centre in Fort William. I was super impressed by the Durham Students camping in the car park- at least they didn’t have to have a designated driver; just roll out of the party and into the tent. Stu, the jammie get, won a £70 voucher for inverness canoes…not so handy if you live in Nottingham, but I’m sure it’ll give him a good excuse to go back to boat in Scotland soon. The live  music at the Nevis Centre entertainment was cool and there were some crazy  shapes being thrown on the dance-floor. Highlight of the night were the Glasgow Uni lot, who dressed up as dominoes, actually playing a giant game of human dominoes.