More on Scotland

Excerpts of Andy R’s report:

The Arkaig:

Barring the safety team and perhaps 3 or 4 others, of a group of 25, everyone ran the drop on their head

Duo paddling:

going deeper under water than ever in your life,
and gaining access to this depth by way of a 7m waterfall is an experience

Double the fun 

Culinary delights:

drinking marmite, cheese, curry power, sunflower oil, and sweet chilli sauce surprisingly good fun

 Etive

Read the rest of Andy’s report at lucanoe.info

Photos by: Kim and Katie.

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Scotland 08

Wednesday

So Scotland started in true paddling style with a few of us olds going for a curry in the Royal the night before we set off.  After the Royal a quick visit to Kelly’s to catch up with everyone else who had been having a curry ala Lloyd and watching previous year’s carnage.

Thursday

Scotland as always starts far too early to be sociable but needs must as they say. So I get up at 5.45 for breakfast before being picked up by Will at 6.30am or so I thought. 6am sees a txt off Will “pick you up at 6.10” and 5 mins later Will turns up. Barely enough time to get the surprise bacon rolls ready for the journey up.  Boats on car bags stuffed in and on the road we go.

Mid morning and we get a quick chuckle at the Kev mobile, with Daffers and Mary in it, as it goes flying past in the wrong lane of a contra flow and misses the turning into Glasgow. That coupled with a few stops at services and a stop to pick up Cath’s friend in the centre of Glasgow see’s us getting to the Orchy for 12.30 ish.

A quick scout of the river while waiting for the mini bus to turn up and everything is looking good. Then while running the shuttle the first mishap of the weekend happens and Chris gets rear ended turning off the main road. He was fine but his car is a little bit shorter then it was that morning.

So on to the purpose of the weekend and paddling.

 

The first drop on the Orchy claims it first victim Jen H (from Wigan). The newly re-name freshers corner due to the number of freshers it made swim, also claimed Daffers (its down as sheep trolley gorge in the guide what are sheep doing with trollys I ask?).

Then on to Easan Dubha to see Will face his nemesis from a few years back.

And face it he did, twice, cos he swam the first time, cheers Will made my day. First time Will got airborne sideways just above the lip of drop and then pencilled it. After a few roll attempts it looks like his boat came away from him and he swam. But not one to let things beat him there was a 2nd attempt where he just bobbed over the drop and did it fine.

At this point the freshers get off and only a few people carry on to do the lower section. I run down Sore Tooth first and get nailed on the exit and swim. While floating down stream I scream at Rob whos walking down the side for a line only to get a blank response and the dreaded phrase “I don’t have one”.

Andy Squirrel, Wigan James and Lloyd all run Eas a’ Chathaidh. Lloyd apparently styled it and the other two got down ok I was too busy running the portage to watch.

A quick blast to the bottom and then off to the hut for dinner. Me and Ali D had a nice “romantic” dinner of sausage and mash in the mayhem of the hut with people falling over each other to cook.

Friday

Friday day brings the Arkiag a nice flat paddle in to the one drop and then a nice paddle out. So us olds were up early kitted up and running the shuttle when the van and bus turn up. This is when the 2nd crash of the weekend happens (technically number 2 and 3) as the van and the bus drive into each other some how. NO major damage and everyone carry’s on with the task of paddling.

Ali D and Mary S both took a swim above the drop and managed to make it on to the island instead of swimming the drop. Heidun managed to get a roll going into the top of the rapid but swam the drop. Daffers ran the big drop fine, but with comedy timing and style managed to swim on the flat bit insight of the get out!!

Then the afternoon brings the Roy, from the hut (after a nice warm lunch) down to Spean Bridge. A few dodgy braces all round on the first little rapid but nothing major or head wetting. The weather was grim, hail, sleet and snow all took turns and sometime join forces with the driving wind to make you really cold.

Mary

Apart from the weather nothing happens until railway falls. Jen M (Wigan) swam on the river right drop about half way down. It looked rocky and painful but she was ok and stuck back in her boat promptly.

 

Mary managed to swim on the entry rapid and had to walk around and down to the bottom to get her gear back. But apart from a damp leg she said she was fine!

Saturday

Saturday see us with an 8.30(ish) start up to the upper Roy get in. At this point the 1inch of snow on the boats at the hut should have been a clue.

The snow covered hill glistening in the morning sun should have been another. Will driving very slowly up the get in road breaking trails through the snow in places should have been another big screaming clue to it being COLD!!! A few inchs of snow at the road of the get and most of us think it is too cold to go down to the river to inspect (This is after dressing for the river at the hut).

So Will is left to go down and inspect while everyone else messing about in the snow. With Anna snowballing Chris at point blank range for making her get up! After a fun 5mins in the snow Will returns to proclaim it is too low to run if it is this cold. So, on the drive back we pass the student parked up having a snowball fight and hit them with a drive by snow balling. Well it seemed rude not to. So back to the Arkaig we go so everyone that swam yesterday can face some demons. And on arriving at the Arkaig we were greeted with beautiful warm sunshine and no snow. IN short JenH swam and got out on the island above the drop and Heidrun gave me and Chris heart flutters by swimming through the right hand chute of the big drop. It wasn’t just the swimming that caused us the flutters it was the disappearing at the beginning of the drop and not reappearing until after the tow back at the bottom of the drop a good 50ft later that did it.

 

On wards to the Spean Gorge we go. The gorge passed by fairly uneventful, I had a numpty roll after a little drop. Dinny, Mike, Will and Cath all ran headbanger with Cath styling it and Will dinging his boat.

Wigan James ran constriction coming out upside down.

Apparently one of the Wigan Jens and Mary both had a swim on witch’s cauldron but were quickly stuck back in boats.

Then back at the Hut, one of many renditions of Happy Birthday was sung for Penny, but we still don’t know how old she is!!!

 

Saturday Night

The most Surreal night ever!! In the pub there was a live band of a guitar and an accordion. We shared the pub with a few locals and group of paddlers on the Student safety course. I enjoyed a couple of pints in the company of friends old and new alike.

Then things get interesting. Ash and Splinkly start moshing to the things like classic tunes like wildrover, postman pat, the balamoray theme tune and lots in-between. Then there was vigorous dancing, a conger line, some crowd surfing (yes crowd surfing), lots of tops being taken off, dancing on tables and 3 encores for the band.

By the end of the night everyone in the pub including the staff were up and dancing and having a great time.

Probably the best night ever seen in the Roybridge EVER!!!!!

 

Sunday

I got up early not having a lift to the river Findhorn, on the off chance of finding one. Saturday night Will had said he was going for a walk and since I have an aversion to walking I was left to fend for myself. Over breakfast Matt and Ali D became my best friends as Tim and Heidrun decided to go walking too. Off to the Findhorn we go. The snow on the hills and the snowplough on the way there should have indicated how cold it was.

My group was the last on the water and caught up the next group at “Simons” corner. After watching Dales almost impressive run (with no paddle strokes) and swim I had a go at my corner. To date River 2 Simon 2.Yes I swum needless to say pictures and videos were taken and no doubt they will appear shortly. A quick climb out and mountain goat impressions I was reunited with my boat. Thanks to Andy Squirrel (I think) for emptying it for me. I also learned that when being a gent helping a lass down the cliffs with her boat use a rope to lower it as catching it in the arm hurts!

A quick blast down the river to warm up and we over took another group at the last big rapid on carried on to the get out. It was too cold to hang about and a bit of weather, snow and hail at the get out proved that.

But it didn’t stop a little Robin crapping on my dry bag.

 

Martins group arrived eventually and news of his swim as captain was received! Captain’s swim beers a great tradition! Being a true gent he brought 2 cases of beers on his way back to the hut as captain’s swims beers for all those on the water!

 

Monday

We went to the Etive, via Mcdonald’s with a drive by soaking of Matt W on the way out. I would like to give a full account of the river but I didnt paddle it, I just did some shuttles and took lots of pictures of people running it.

Then Off home to bed!

 

The end of another cracking Scotland trip. Cheers Will.

Helen and Leo

We got engaged. 🙂

Engaged

Snowdon, New year 08I'm not just marrying him for his van, obviously

Enough of that – now I want reports of your Easter. Scotland stories please.

Update on Jamie from the Indian Ocean

I passed out of Britannia Royal Naval College (Like Sandhurst – where Dan went and Fran is now going.  Congratulations on that by the way!) in December 07.  I have been at sea since mid January completing my common fleet time onboard HMS ILLUSTRIOUS.  Below decribes what it has been like. 

Merlins landing just after we sailed

Valetta (grand harbour)

Before I ramble on too much, I thought I would let you know, I am sitting in my cabin writing this with a harrier jump jet landing less than 2m above my head.  The jets have only just arrived in the last few days so it has not been too noisy before they arrived.  When they start night flying I am going to have to wear ear duffs to bed!!  By the way I am not lucky enough to have a computer with internet in my cabin, it is just easier to write this on my laptop first.   

The trip so far has been ace.  It got off to a bit of a slow start, because it took us over 5 weeks to get out the English Channel due to various problems.  Once on our way the first stop was Malta and the people were standing all around Grand Harbour as we entered.  We were at Procedure Alpha, which means there are a few hundred people on the upper deck in our No.1 uniform (smart ones!).  It was an awesome sight.  

Being one of the YOs (Young Officers) onboard I get pinged (chosen) for lots jobs other officers do not want to do.  One was attending the wreath laying ceremony in Malta.  Which actually turned into a nice afternoon off the ship with a few beers in the Mayors office.  If you check out the link below you will see some phots of me saluting at the ceremony.

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/server?show=nav.1268&imageIndex=5

We had a young Maltese officer staying with us for part of the journey to Malta, so he showed us some of the good bars out there and I managed to squeeze in a days diving.   Then we sailed east towards Cyprus (where other ships joined us to make up the taskforce) and then transited south through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea. 

Suez

Suez

Sunset

Task group half way through Suez

 Task force half way through Suez

Once into the Indian Ocean we headed to Muscat, Oman.  Since we had been at sea for a few weeks the first night out turned into quite a large one.  As soon as midnight came it got even bigger because it was my birthday.

The morning of my birthday started very early because I had put my name down to go Via Verrratering and gorge walking.  It took 2 hours to drive inland to the mountains.  I was not feeling to bad until we got out the jeeps, harnessed up and heading over to the gorge itself.  By now the lager sweats were in full swing and I was scared stiff looking over at the 40m gap and 100m drop.  Once I was clipped on the first thing I had to do was go across the gorge on a zip line.  I have never been so scared in my life! 3 hours later, 2 or 3 more zip lines, it was all over and I actually really enjoyed it.  After that we drove higher up to scramble, jump and swim down the gorge in under 2 hours.  There was not much water in it, but enough to jump off things.  If there was a flash flood and you paddled it you would be dead – it was like Chateau Que on steroids.

Via Ferrata

 In Muscat I squeezed in another days diving, some shopping and time on the beach (tried to swim/paddle, saw big sea snake, ran the hell away).  Everything is shiny and new, with loads of very rich people around.  Water surface temp was around 25 degrees and you can buy a Hummer H3 for less than £15,000.  Food was nice (eat in some 5 star hotels, so I am not sure that’s reflective).  Ship life isn’t too bad, I changed the spark plugs on one of the gas turbines (similar to those on concord), conned the ship during various bridge watches and lots of task book work with every department onboard. 

I am back in the UK towards the end of April when I fly back from India.  But I have my fleet board first.  On passing I get my commission from the queen (some job security).  If not………………..well lets just keep the fingers crossed!

Me in Muscat in silly shorts

How is everyone doing?  I hope you are all well, obviously Will still likes drinking Scotish river water!  Paddling in Scotland sounds like another success!!

I am at the following email address until I fly home! (305-yo10@a.dii.mod.uk)

Officer Cadet Fran

Congratulations! Fran’s passed the officer selection thing hooray.

Wales March 08 – Lledr and Conwy/Fairy Glen

So its been a while since my last article, been slacking a bit (sorry Helen). This is due to sorting out my new job (yay) and doing lots and lots of paddling. And i mean lots. Last weekend was my 10th consecutive weekend on the water water, with around 8 out of those 10 encompassing two days paddling.

Photos from Andy Squirrel on Facebook

March has been an excellent paddling month for myself, bearing witness to my first ever runs down Fairy Glen on the Conwy and the Upper Lledr, as well as returns to the main section of the Lledr as well as the Upper and Middle sections of the Conwy.

Robin inspects Fairy Falls

The first weekend in March saw me hooking up with a friend from Nottingham who also provided discount delivery of a new boat for one of Stu’s housemates. We set off saturday morning after a hearty cooked breakfast, but nearly never made our destination. En route along the A55, in the outside lane there was a 4×4 and trailer ahead of us in the inside lane. Next thing we knew the wind caused a wooded pallet loose in the trailer to become airborne, hurtling and rotating through the air like something out of Hollywood blockbuster Twister. We braked and fortunately the pallet came to a halt straddling the lane markings just before we reached it enabling enough room to swerve between it and the central reservation! This definitely woke us up, so we proceeded to the Conwy.

Here myself, Si, Robin, John and Phil jumped onto the Middle Conwy for a warm-up before heading down the Fairy Glen. The second Grade 5 was at a good level, and i fair-ed better than last time down remaining upright though exiting backwards into the pool below.

 So onto the mighty Fairy Glen, know as a test piece of British paddling and one of the best runs at its grade – 2km of Grade 5 comprising two gorges split by Fairy Falls (5+). The phone gauge had read around 1300, and at this level the first drop of note – Sticky Hole – lives up to its reputation. One ran it one portaged and the remainder of our group sneaked down the left. I then proceeded to end up in the hole below against the gorge wall, performing some creekboat freestyle for the rest of the group sat in the eddy below before paddling out along the wall. The run comprised of being explained the line in the eddy above each rapid/drop, followed by everyone paddling off followed by me tentatively following on.

Fairy Falls

For a first run it is great to have a group that knows the lines, this speeds things up , but can make the run seem more full-on. Inspection is difficult however, and you could spend hours on this inspecting and not really seeing much! A quick inspection at Fairy Falls and it was a goer. This leads into the second gorge, which contains rapids including Pipeline, SpeederBiker and End of the World. Before you know it your at the Lledr confluence and you can pause for breath – what a fantastic section of whitewater.

The following day saw our number cut to three, the phone gauge at 1400, and an even quicker run down as i didn’t need all the lines explaining, just occasional reminders. Sticky hole runs nicely at this level, ride a cushion wave to the left then two stokes to straighten up and boof the drop. Managed to nail the line through the hole i spent time in the previous day, only to end up in the nest one at Monkey Drop – doh. No inspection at Fairy Falls, Robin informed me as the level had risen it definitely ran, however some of my marker rocks from the previous were now underwater! A fantastic sight looking back up the gorge from above End of the World seeing the rapids you have just run bathed in Spring sunshine. Then off to the Middle for a quick blast. Both days paddling were followed by visits to the lovely Conwy Falls cafe for refreshment, very enjoyable.

 The following weekend was Student Rodeo weekend, but rain forecast in Wales saw me and Si van camping near Dolgellau in the hope of paddling the Mawdach, Gamlan,Gain etc. Sadly this was not to be as we checked levels saturday morning whilst heading north towards Betws y Coed. As we drove past the Lledr on the A470 it appeared as through the rain had fallen in this catchment, and we resolved to investigate the Upper Lledr and continuing down the raging lower section. After some faff our group was united with a get-on decided. This section has some enjoyable drops and small rapids before a section of flat above the testing rapid at Ponty y Pant, but allows for a warm up and extends the paddle by some 9km.

Squirrel boofs a drop at Pont y Pant,Lledr

The Lledr from Pont y Pant is a excellent run and everything goes at lower levels. We walked the entrance drop to the Rhiw Goch gorge and Viaduct Falls, but everything else went nicely. Some of the guys rounded the day off with a run down the Llugwy from below Swallow Falls to Chip Shop Drop, much to the entertainment of passing tourists. After food we headed to Llanberis for a party at the Boulder Adventure boathouse for some beers and a catch up with old friends.

Sunday saw a lazy start with breakfast at Pete’s Eats followed by another trip down the Glen.

Last weekend i only ventured out for sunday, electing to stay home and watch all three Six Nations rugby matches – the right choice as the rain didn’t come until saturday. Sunday saw me, Joe and Martin hook up with various ex-Nottingham Trent paddlers for a run down the Lledr at a slightly lower level than the previous week. Another great paddle, followed with a run down the Upper and Middle Conwy to round things off.

Manufacturer of choice - Dagger

What a month it has been so far, with Scotland still to come. Enjoy

Squirrel

Happy Easter

tartan 

Have a super time xx h