Trip Reports

Upper Tummel trip July 2011

We were lucky enough to have a brilliant, sunny day for our first ever trip (Gary’s second) to the upper section of the river Tummel. We wandered down to the put in at the dam, where Gary announced that we were to enter via a fish ladder that snaked down beside the towering dam. After Gary had shown us how it’s done, Tom followed suit in relative style, then followed by Graeme C. Only a few wobbles so far and I decided that it looked quite easy. On the third small drop on the fish ladder, I found myself caught on the most innocuous looking stopper on the entire river. After a bit of a kicking in the ‘wee’ stopper I pulled the deck for an early swim. After about twenty minutes of wrestling with the current, we were able to extract my boat, and I having learned my lesson, made it to the bottom of the fish ladder. Graham B and Alan both made it to the bottom in style.

Peter had decided that fish ladders were for fish, and cut his teeth in on the next rapid, a fun grade 3 chute, of which there were many, into a deep(ish) pool at the bottom. We next went to the weir, which despite looking quite intimidating, was successfully navigated by all, except Peter, who decided he had heard enough scary stories about weirs, and gave it a miss. Some fun grade 2/3 water lead us to the main event of the river (a cracking grade 4; see pic below).

Duncan in the guts of the grade 4

A rocky run in led to the first drop, which would have been fine by itself, but a huge rock was placed perfectly about six feet in front of it, which obviously we all kind of wanted to avoid. At the end of a small pool came the second drop, a fast slide, then over a small stopper into a nice collecting pool. We carefully watched Tom’s line down, which he nailed perfectly. Graeme C followed successfully, despite a big hit off a rock midway down the second half of the long rapid. It was then my turn. The first drop went smoothly enough, and despite another crash on the second drop I made it down successfully. Graham B was next, having nailed the first drop, he apparently stopped for a ‘play’ in the hole at the bottom of the second, the stopper grabbed him as he fell over the drop sideways. However, he recovered well and side surfed out of the stopper’s clutches. Gary came down last after being safety on the first drop, running the falls with ease.

We re-joined Alan and Peter (who had decided that keeping their faces was preferable to running the drop – ed) at the bottom, then continued off down the river, with some fantastic wee slides and chutes carved out of the sharp bedrock. The last rapid of the day was another great grade 3 slide which was very fast and had us all smiling. However, we then decided to climb up the treacherously sharp bank to give it another go and to pose for the camera, which was a mistake as the sharp rocks and my thin wetsuit shoes combined to give a somewhat painful experience.

Peter hits light speed on the final rock slide

Overall, a fantastic trip, with hopefully more on the way. Big thanks to Gary and Tom for providing safety and rescue, and another thanks to Graham B, for bringing the ropes with which we eventually got my boat out of the fish ladder.

Click here to view the trip album

Paddlers: Peter, Alan, Duncan, Gary, Tom, Graeme C and Graham B

By Duncan 🙂

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Stanley, March 2011 Trip Report

Six months ago we staggered, bleeding in Alan’s case, off the river Tummel. We had hoped this would be the start of many trips over a great winter of kayaking, but this was not to be    (ice, prelims, Peter wanted to play golf rather than kayak etc…). The Stanley trip was intended to break us in for the season. The freezing water temperature certainly did this and more, and Gary intended for us to spend quite a while underwater.

Young Graeme at play on "Wee Eric" below Thistlebrigg rapid

We started off with a bit of easy surfing, then headed over to the Linn for a bit of practice. The Linn was a bit higher than normal and had some fairly big whirlpools. Gary and Tom then had the great idea to go sit in the whirlies, while we watched as they were sucked under for a few seconds then spat out again. We were all perfectly happy, but then Gary quietly and politely asked us should we care to join him. Being too afraid to say no to him, and after watching Graeme C and Graham B’s relative success, Duncan followed while Peter bravely filmed from the side as his friend got dragged, crying, into a big one. Alan followed suit and miraculously managed to roll up on his seventh attempt. After a while we inspected a small chute next to the main rapid (as seen on video). Some of us carried our boats round and descended while Gary and Tom shouted some slightly helpful abuse from the bottom. We then made a brief stop at the taily wall where the abuse continued, before heading for lunch.

… But that didn’t happen, Tom the wimp nicked some pogies and decided it was too cold for lunch, we headed off downstream. Unfortunately Graham B did stop at the car park with an injury. We then headed over the weir, an intimidating horizon line. Tom went first, followed by the confident Subaru Graham (should he be Graham A?) who ran the wave train in style with his nice new boat. We carried on the river, bouncing over the waves and surfing the odd one. Thistlebrigg, the final rapid was nice and bouncy and largely successful, but had a sting in the tail for the unwary Peter, who performed an impressive near back-loop at the bottom.

All in a very successful day, only one swim, not pointing any elbows (Alan). Thanks to Graham, Tom and Gary who kindly offered to rescue our kit, but ignore us. Thankfully help was not needed often.

Paddlers- Gary, Tom, Duncan, Peter, Alan, Graham A and B and Graeme C  (Plus a few other Glasgow Uni Paddlers)

Written by Duncan and Peter

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River Nith Trip Report

Good weather, an exciting river, lots and lots of swimming, and a new lpkc record for the slowest ever descent of the Nith. Looking back from the safety of my settee, after a well deserved curry and a few beers to celebrate our safe return, the day is a blur of various intimidating rapids, reassuring eddies, underwater swimming, and Gary , Graham, Dave and Stuart endlessly rounding up kayaks, paddles and swimmers.

Although this was my first attempt at river kayaking, I had watched the last beginner’s trip to Stanley with interest. Everyone out that day made it look fairly effortless and straightforward. This illusion was shattered when I tried to break out of my first eddy, only a few yards from the launching spot on the Nith. The worried look on Gary’s face as I hurtled past, and shot down the river was an ominous sign of things to come.

Despite all the good advice being offered, I decided to try a few alternative ways of descending the rapids, such as taking one hand off the paddle and waving it in the air, lying back in the kayak looking up at the sky, and then flipping over and going the rest of the way upside down. It has to be said that Gary was less than impressed by some of these revolutionary techniques, and felt that some additional pool practice might be required before the next trip.

By some strange quirk of fate, the group managed to get down the more difficult rapids intact, while just about every other bit of white water involved casualties among the more “mature” paddlers. Meanwhile, the younger members of the club put on a display of competent paddling that I could only look on and envy, as well as some impressive seal launches from a large rock.

nith-blog

Perhaps the most memorable stretch of rapids was the one that ended with a large dead tree standing in the middle of the river. Unfortunately, Gary and Graham made the mistake of telling us not to look directly at the tree, as that would only increase the chances of heading straight for it. Needless to say, I couldn’t take my eyes off the bloody thing as it loomed ever larger, seeming to fill the entire river. Fortunately, my kayak decided it had had enough abuse for one day, and flung me just past it. Alistair wasn’t quite so fortunate, and displayed some unusual tree hugging qualities as he crashed in to the tree and hung on grimly. Gary’s shout of “Just hang on tight and you will be ok” coincided nicely with Alistair’s hands sliding off the trunk, his kayak rolling over and him swimming off down the river.

Other memorable moments, were swimming in an eddy as it curled round a large rock and sent me and my kayak back up the river, the peculiar brown/orange colour of the river when viewed upside down under water, and eating my lunch at 4.30 pm when we finally made to the cars.

All in all, it was a great day and an exciting introduction to river kayaking for this particular beginner. Thanks in particular to Gary, Graham, Dave and Stuart, who showed endless patience, offered loads of sound advice, and then spent the day pulling us out of the water when we ignored it!

Alan

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My first whitewater trip to Stanley

After a couple of nights practice in the pool a beginners trip to the Stanley was announced, desperate to get out and experience the rush of white water, think I might have been first to get my name down. Plans and arrangements were made on the Fri night and we all went off to get ready for the adventure ahead.

With an early meet up arranged, after a few trips round Johnstone picking up Scott and Adam and then back again to pick up some more of Scott’s belongings we met with the others at Lochwinnoch. A quick sort out and the convoy was off.

We pulled into the car park and after several failed attempts by Scott to put me off I was raring to go. I was glad of the offers of a wetsuit from Graham and Adam as it was feeling a bit chilly and we weren’t in the water. I started off with just my cycling pants and thermals and now I had 2 wetsuits to choose from. Cheers guys, definitely came in handy.

We got kitted up and feeling and looking good in all the new gear we got onto the water. The experienced guys headed straight on to the rapids of the Linn and it wasn’t long before there was a swimmer or 2 which confirmed my thoughts that i’d be meeting the salmon before too long. After watching them playing and getting flung about by the big Whirlies Gary took us off to learn how to break in and out and after a few goes and playing about to get the strokes right it was beginning to feel quite good and we went off to try out the Linn.

Ross running Campsie Linn

Ross running Campsie Linn

Duncan young and confident stepped up first and nailed it, I set off got my line right, feeling good and leaning forward attacking the rapids went well, I went for my break out and my practice paid off, thinking I was out past the eddy I relaxed to enjoy my effort and I was flipped, caught out by a small whirlie, I was now swimming. David, peter and the other guys made it down well. Boat emptied and freshened up by my dip we were raring to go again. Second time round was even better and everyone was looking pretty good. We practised a bit of ferry gliding (if thats what its called) and moved onto a fast flowing eddy to work on our break in and outs, before relaxing in the sun for lunch.

After lunch we geared up and set off again. This time making our way down the river, it wasn’t long before we hit our first obstacle (The Weir). We paired up and followed through, the weir proved no problem and the bouncy wave trail that followed was great fun.

We grouped together again and headed for the next set of rapids, this time I think they took a couple of victims me included. They were fast flowing with a few rocks needing dodged, I think I really need to work on staying in my boat after the fun is over.

Everyone still intact we headed to what I think was the main event the Thistlebrigg. Bigger and faster waves provided great fun with a fast break out, I kept true to form and nailed the rapids and break out but decided to go for one last swim before heading off. Think another couple of victims were taken to finish the day.

Overall a great day out on a sun baked Tay. A big thanks goes to Gary, Graham, Tom and everyone who helped teach us beginners and provide excellent safety cover.

Ross

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A Tale of Two Paddles

Ok, its March, it’s snowing, it’s windy & very cold. Where do you want to go to get away from it all, cheer yourself up with a bit of ambience and convivial company?

Yes, Larkhall of course! So off we set for our nearest Grade 4 river, the Avon . The Avon (there are many river Avons around) is a tributary of the Clyde & flows through a deep gorge between Stonehouse and Larkhall – grid refs will shortly be posted on a new how to get there page I hope. You need to know that you want to paddle this river before you start as the steep sides mean there aren’t too many places to get out & walk. But this also makes for some impressive unspoilt riverbank which looks like it changes form year to year as there was evidence of recent landslides. And even though we could see the trees bending in the wind at ‘ground’ level, down on the river was sheltered. I’m not going as far as to say warm.

The guidebook doesn’t say much about this river or its tributaries which are also potential kayak runs; there’s a bit of a feeling that you have left civilisation behind as the first few gentle curves pass by easily and the waves get bigger and noisier as you pass in to the gorge proper. It was clear from our first run that the level of the river would dramatically change its nature, there are plenty big trees that have fallen into the Avon and these are either nice play features with eddies, or siphons depending on whether the level is high or low.

The first half of the run is punctuated with a series of play waves & stoppers; there really is a good variety of features to warm you up. After the Cander burn enters the Avon there is a substantial increase in the amount of water, the second half of the trip takes in the 2 grade 4 sections; boulder field and Big Lynn. (Yes that’s right – it’s a big linn)

On our first run, an inspection of boulder field revealed about 4 or 5 big rocks, the line was all important with an important direction change in the fast stream. If you don’t nail this (and I’m now talking from experience) you will be pinned against a huge rock with a siphon (ed – a rather dangerous feature where water flows through rocks with a large entry hole and a smaller exit hole; a dangerous place to be!) to the left just to give you an extra wee kicking in case you hadn’t by this time realised that missing the line to the right was a bad idea. Below boulder field a bouncy grade 3 eventually turns a bend with some big eddies where you can collect what is left of your kit and your dignity.

In my case, no vital pieces of dignity were missing but the river had swallowed my favourite paddle. Thank goodness for the lendal emergency spare paddle (Note to committee – stick a couple of these on the kit list).

Big Lynn is everything you desire (as you can see in the picture below), easy to approach, a nice big features, fast and exciting. That’s all you need to know.

Graham running Big Linn in high water

Graham running Big Linn in high water

The last section of the trip passes quickly and the sweetener at the end is a great fun slide down the 15 foot high weir at the Applebank Inn.

Did I mention this is all just 50 minutes drive away? A time so short we decided that one of us could even tolerate Scott in the car the next weekend! On our return the following week, the river had dropped and was a bit of a scrape initially, but the waves were more forgiving and the surfing opportunities were great. Check out the videos of Tom the wave hog to see what I mean (ed – I’ll get round to posting them on YooChoob soon)

Great couple of trips to a re-discovered local run, and we even retrieved my paddle from the siphon! (ed – This follows the great Bell family tradition of losing paddles on trips only to regain them however unlikely that may seem e.g. Recovered from a tree the day after a swim on the Gryffe, Graham’s siphon recovery a WEEK after losing them or the prize winning recovery from a Guinea Pig Sanctuary [you couldn’t make this up could you?] several weeks after the club Lower Orchy trip!)

Paddle 1 – Gary F, Dave L, Graham B

Paddle 2 – Gary F, Tom A, Graham B, Scott D

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River Teith Trip – A novice eye view

On Sunday 30th March the ‘convoy’ arrived at the car park in Callander to fantastic views and good clear day. Thirteen boats it total I think. After a group trip to the toilet we all got kitted up. I definitely need more practice at that (the kitting up not the toilet). We all had a good laugh at Stuarts yellow ‘girlie’ shoes, as Maddie called them. I have to say that Kayak gear (out of the boat) is not the best look …… Then we dropped the cars off at the take-out point and Paul ran the shuttle back. The rest of the group were already in messing about and ready to go. Both Maddie and I were bit apprehensive as this was our first river and we didn’t know what ‘grade 2′ really meant.

Martin & Co starting out on the Teith

Martin & Co starting out on the Teith

The first challenge was the small seal launch off the bank. That went ok though…. but hey this moving water is weird stuff… So armed with a lot of theory and a few words of encouragement and wisdom from Barry we all set off down the first gentle stretch with Dave and the girls taking an early lead and the rest of us strung out a bit. I felt a bit wobbly and tentative at first but settled in after a while. I was having to concentrate a fair bit whenever I looked up there was someone reassuringly close although not always horizontal I might add….

After a while we stopped and the newbies practiced our break-outs and ins. I watched the chaps strutting their stuff and it looks sooooo easy so thought I would try to copy Iain’s antics, and promptly capsized. The pool sessions paid off though and I managed to flip up. My first cold water roll and it was a hoot. We all messed around there for a while and built up some confidence before setting off again.

I tried desperately to get the hang of breaking out at the interesting ‘play area’s’ with the rest of the guys but was always too late, went way too far past and could only look back longingly at all that fun disappearing into the distance. That definitely needs some more practice. Then suddenly for no apparent reason I was off for swim. I am told I probably ‘caught an edge’ although I am still not quite sure what that means..

Back in the boat and getting a bit bouncier now, great fun. Came across Maddie having a swim and hung around till she got back in on a rock where the river forked around an island and successfully seal launched for the first time…well done. As we drifted down to the ‘rougher’ right fork, I heard Maddie say can we go to the left pleeeeaase ……. as we drifted down to the right……. but it was fine. Luckily the girls had spotted Barry and Paul waiting with Lunch and we stopped for a break. Fiona mistook my apple juice for milk, what do they drink in their house??

On to the next play area, which I have to say I found a bit more intimidating than the first. The Chaps were surfing and doing cool stuff. ‘Way to go Stuart!’ out there with the big boys. I was feeling a bit more tentative though, nosing gently into the stopper at the very edge to get the feel. I decided to watch and learn as Graham practiced moving along the stopper. That’s something for next time I think. On a bit further and Amy decided to go for a swim as well and finally we were at the take-out point.

A really excellent day all round and a great introduction to white water. Thanks to everyone for providing the safety cover. For Maddie, the Loch Lomond trip was 10/10 and this one was 11/10. I agree.

Off home for us but some of the chaps went on to the Leny afterwards and judging by the photo’s that looked like pretty serious stuff… maybe next year…

Martin Harvey

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The Tay @ Stanley

On Sunday the 9th of September we arrived on the banks of the Tay just outside of Stanley. Weather overcast but no rain, water level lowish. Greeted by a cold wind and a group of body-boarders we got our kit on and waited for Brian and Scot to join us. They arrived and changed, Brian kitted out like a seasoned white-water paddler, Scott with his perfectly white shoes looked more like the sugar plum fairy. Once the laughter had died down, we set off.

The Linn

After much play and rolling practise, we resorted to climbing (gracefully prancing) up the cliff and jumping (joyously pirouetting) off the top. Soon we got back in and went down the linn. We proceeded downstream through some more gentle rapids for fifteen/twenty minuets until we stopped at the weir.

The Weir

While we were practicing our surfing our group’s ballet fanatic and Brain headed off to the other side of the weir. During a horrific accident Billy Elliot capsized and scraped his face off a rock. We can confirm that he had regained his good looks by the next pool session.

The last rapids

These were nice and bouncy! After reaching the bottom we decided to surf the lower waves. Unlucky for us, this involved getting upstream. Following many failed attempts at getting there, David resorted to using his throw line. Success. After a few shots (and a few swimmers) we departed and headed to the car park and then home.

The Verdict

A great first white water day with the club for the newest members. (Well technically I’m not a member yet as I haven’t paid anything but if I keep quiet Garry might not notice eh?)

Stuart Bell.

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