On the October bank holiday weekend a group of us headed over to Scotland to see what whitewater it had to offer! DCUCC members Aisling Doherty, Trevor Ebbs, Brian Mc and I joined up with former DCUer Steve Fahy and a group from Wicklow Mountain Kayak Club.
We set of from a very rainy Ireland early on the Friday morning intending to hit the Scottish rivers by sometime in the afternoon. The journey to the ferry was not without incident though with Brian sleeping through his alarm and making the 3 hour journey from his gaff in Wicklow to Belfast in just under 2 hours!
Such pace was not found on the Scottish side of the pond however and much faffing and a few wrong turns lead to us looking at a dirt low Orchy far too late to get on it anyway. We were not comforted much by news that Wicklow and Kerry were pumping in our absence. So we made our way to our bunkhouse to relax in the sauna with some 2% water like liquid which we were dubbed into purchasing by its ridiculously low price tag combined by the label which identified it as beer!
The next morning was we were up bright and early and off to run the Etive! The Etive is one of the most photogenic rivers I have ever seen as well as being one of the most fun to paddle ever! It starts off with the imaginatively named triple step.
Clara Cleaning the Line on the last drop of Triple Step!
It was then on to a further series of fun drops, all imaginatively named, letterbox (keep left unless you want to get "posted"), Crack of Doom (a drop into a small gorge which looks like a crack in the ground, one that you'd want to consider some rescue on :-) ), crack of dawn (quite like crack of doom) and ski jump falls (guess what it looks like?).
Myself doing rescue on Crack of Doom
The river than reaches its biggest and most impressive fall, the 35ft(ish!) Right Angle falls. Unfortunately my line was a little less impressive and I rolled both above and below the drop.
Trev running right angle properly!
Right angle is almost the end of a fantastic river, but there was one more surprise waiting for us where on the last drop Trev decided to ignore the "the lines on the right" signal and ran it left attempting to wear down some Scottish rocks with his elbow. Perhaps unsurprisgly the Rock won (Scottish Rocks 1- Kayakers 0) and we had the first (and only!) DCUCC swim of the trip!
Leaving Trev in the car to recover the rest of us trekked up an Etive tributary called the Allt a' Chaorainn. It's described in the guide book as "more bizarre fun than should be legal!", and it certainly lived up to that promise! It's packed with fun slides and drops. All great fun until Aisling decided to try and revenge Trev's defeat to the rocks by attacking one with her boat. Once again however the rocks proved stronger than expected and it was Rocks 2- Kayakers 0.
Brian Mc running "pinball" on the Allt a' Chaorainn
The next day the rain had finally arrived from Ireland and levels had risen drastically, which meant that we abandoned our plan to run the Roy Gorge and went off to do the An tSuilleag. A great fun little river, with a bit of everything on it. The top rapid was the only difficult one on it which Steve F, Brian Mc and myself ran (relatively!) cleanly. This inspired Jim Ryan of Wicklow Mountain Kayak Club to give it a go, however once again Scottish Rocks proved the downfall of a kayaker making it 3-0 to the rocks and causing a rough looking swim and a lost bung!
Steve Fahy on the top drop of the An tSuilleag
At this point it was decided to split the group with some going of to run the Gary while Brian, Trev, Aisling and I decided to run the Roy, the river we decided not to run earlier. We were not put of running it by the large number of Scottish groups making the rather demanding walk out of the gorge, and put in 3 hours before darkness! The Roy has to be one of the best rivers out there, it was great fun with a few set piece rapids before the gorge, a demanding line through a nasty looking rapid at the start of the gorge (I portaged this one, but kudos to Brian and Trev for running it along with another ex-DCUCC member Alex Stanley who we meet on the river.)And than a great continuous run through the rest of the gorge. We just made it off in time to avoid paddling in the dark but it was a fantastic run a well worth doing again. (Apparently it was a few feet above the level described as "Very High" in the guidebook!) Unfortunately no pictures of this one as we were tight on time. In a side note another bump appeared on Aislings boat, making it presumably rocks 4- Kayakers still nil.
Our last day was Monday, where we set of early to get a paddle in on the Orchy which, had risen since Friday, before we set of for our ferry. The Orchy is another good river (but no Roy, Etive or Allt a' Chaorainn). The main rapid on it was shallow and contained many Scottish rocks. Given our track record it was walked by many, but Steve Fahy, Aisling and Trev gave it a go. They had nice looking lines through it, but the shallow landing took its toll with further marks on Ais and Trev's boats making it 6 to the rocks. Steve appeared to get through fine however so there was a consolation point to the kayakers at the very end!
Aisling boofing on the Orchy
After that it was the long drive home, been miles to early for the ferry (Never thought that would happen) and eventually home to sleep of the weekend!
Me on the Etive