Winter never really properly happened this year in Scotland, The freezing level rarely dropped below 500m and although there was a lot of snow high up, large areas of most rivers catchments received a fair bit of rain, and as it warmed up and the snow melted they were kept topped up consistently.
With all that water about I was able to get out and paddle some of the best rivers in Scotland this spring.
DEESIDE / DON – January
The year started off with a wee trip to the Deeside tribs on the 2nd of January in playboats. The levels were not huge but the main event on the Garbh Allt provided ample entertainment for ciaran and myself.
Ciaran on the entry to the last drop of the main event of the Garbh Allt
Myself on the last drop of the main event on the Garbh Allt
The rest of the river was too low to run in playboats and we walked back to the bottom after a few runs.
Having never paddled it before and with levels going up we then headed to the Garin on the north side of the dee. This turned out to be rather uneventful with a few sections of easy grade 4 but not much else.
Looking back up the Gairn
Following that we started heading home, however as we got to the Feugh we saw that there was a good bit of water comming down the falls and there was a lot of spectators. Feeling it would be rude not to we jumped out the car and ran up to the top with our boats. Our showing off turned into a rather embarrassing mess as, I completely missed my line and fell of the side of the drop rolling down a slab on my face. Ciaran fared even worse and despite nailing his line he found himself upside down in the hole with no paddles and after a few failed hand roles found himself swimming for the bank.
Ciaran having an out of boat experience on the Falls of Feugh
The rain continued overnight and the next morning I was back up on a much higher Garbh Allt, in my creek boat this time.
The main event was significantly more pushy with the higher flow.
Myself on the entry to the last drop on the main event of the Garbh Allt
Leslie Simpson on the 3rd drop of the main falls on the Garbh Allt
Murray Gauld on the first drop of the Garbh Allt
Below the main event I had a scary moment where I realised my helmet was not done up. Which was followed shortly after by Murray Gauld swimming on the gorge section and losing his paddles (permanently). After the Garbh Allt we went to Ballater for tea before we headed home.
Towards the end of Janurary, heavy rain and snow melt brought the Don play waves into condition, Myself and Leslie walked up to the wave at Danstone Tesco’s where we spent an hour surfing and playing.
Myself and Leslie on the Danestone wave
After the Danestone wave we walked a bit further up and jumped on the mill wave, this was unstable and difficult to surf on and after half an hour of getting kickings on it we called it a day.
FALLOCH / MUICK – Feburary
The start of Feburary was SSS glasgow polo but not being bent, Tom Leeman, Roddy Sandeman, Rory Inglis and myself headed to the rivers and were rewarded for our lack of bentness with good levels all weekend. On the Friday we ran the Braan Gorge before we headed to glasgow to drink our weight in tennants.
The next morning having found “hangover city” and done our best to cure our hangovers we headed to the Falloch. However when we got there we were all feeling rather cold and hungover and the level was looking a little low, Luckily we decided to go to the green welly and get some soup which gave us the energy to put on our wet kit and gave the river time to come up to a good level.
Myself on the Falls of Falloch
Roddy on the Falls of Falloch
We only ran the falls as we were too hungover to run the rest of the river.
A few days later after running the North Esk at 2.11m on the gauge. Scott Robinson, Ciaran Burgess and Myself headed up to the Falls of Muick. We got there feeling pretty stoked for it, however when we first saw it we nearly walked away. After around half an hour of inspection, I finally plucked up the courage to give it a shot.
The slide into the drop on the Falls of Muick
After styling the line, and landing the last drop nose up Scott decided he would give it a go to.
Scott on the first half of the drop.
Scott pencilled the last drop and discovered quite how shallow it was as his footplate folded over his feet bending them back and fracturing one of the bones in his ankle/foot, luckily the break wasnt too bad and he walked out.
Despite seeing Scott hurt himself on it Ciaran also gave it a go getting a decent line and boofing the last drop.
Ciaran just coming over the lip
Lesson Learned From The Muick – Boof or it hurts, and dagger foot plates are not very strong.
NEVIS / HERMITAGE – April
Other than a few club trips to the N’Esk/Orchy/Etive/Spean etc not much else happened until April.
With some rain around on our club Easter trip, one evening we found ourselves on the Nevis at a really fun level.
It was really nice to run it with some water.
At the end we played around on Poll Dubh for a bit.
Leslie Hammering Poll Dubh
My attempt at an Airscrew of the lip (I got scared and chucked my paddles)
Me hammering Poll Dubh
This springs paddling culminated on the river braan, on Hermitage Falls.
After a club trip I was feeling super keen to go and look at Hermitage Falls. We walked up without boats to have a look and see if they were going.
Spent a while looking at it and discussing possible lines before I decided to run it.
We got kitted back up and set up safety and cameras covering all the angles on the drop. I borrowed some elbow pads off a mountain biker who we met there.
Finally I got in my boat and ran it, (if you can call it that)
It didnt go quite to plan, but luckily I didnt hurt myself.