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Nov
26

Park n Huck Scotland 2005

Park n Huck 12 / 19 November 2005

You kind of know you could be in trouble when the first question that Dennis of Kayakojacko asks you is have you all brought elbow pads?

We set off early Saturday morning stopping in the lakes on the way up hoping to paddle Newlands Beck, however low water in the Greta at the put in meant Newlands would be too low.

We headed north and arrived at the Bridge of Orchy just after 1 o'clock, with the gauge reading at 3 , described by the guidebook as big and exciting we quickly changed and ran the shuttle, the run down proved to be a blast, we portaged both Easan Dudha andEas a Chathaidh but the rest of the river provided ample entertainment after being stuck in the car half the day.A quick stop in Fort William and we arrived at Roybridge just after 6.00, stayingat Na Tighean Beaga, http://www.thelittlehouses.co.uk/

We quickly adjourned to the pub to discuss what lay ahead of us, had a few beers and grabed some food.

Up at 7.00 to make the most of the day Dennis and Chris had decided to take us to theAllt Mheuran, not a river usually paddled on day one they wanted to make the most of the water levels which were expected to drop along with the temperature later on in the week.

Looking acrsoss Glen Etive to the Allt Mheuran

After breakfast we drove over to Glen Etive, parking up in the sunshine on a clear crisp morning we looked over the valley to where we were about to paddle, little more than a ditch flowing off the hillside.

Hiking in

A 45 minute hike in with boats and paddling kit soon had our pulses racing, only to have them race faster as we looked at what we would be paddling, I think the phrase "yer having a laugh aren't you" was uttered by more than one of us.

Dennis split the river into three sections, a twenty foot drop followed by some rock slides followed by a further twenty foot fall preceeded by a steep rock slide come chute with no opportunity to slow down once committed it launched you off the fall in spectacular style, this will hurt you if your get it wrong.

We started with some techniques to use on the rocks where usual sweep and support strokes would be of no value, this was kayaking but not as any of us knew it.

A few runs down each saw us feeling somewhat more comfortable in this new paddling environment, just when we had it sussed though Dennis moved us to the first twenty foot fall, a rock slide entry drops you over the lip of the fall to a pool.

Chris demonstrated the line and the technique, landing in the plunge pool and rocketing out of the other side down the narrow chute into the eddy at the top of the middle section, piece of cake. We ran this fall a number off times each before moving onto the final fall, the most committing by far.

I elected to go first, giving no one else the option I just ratcheted myself into my boat and paddled out of the top pool, I clattered down the shoot and launched into fresh air landing with my blades across my deck the water pressure punched my blades and right hand onto my nose, a little dazed it took a few seconds to acknowledge the questions from the guys.One by one we shot down with varying degrees of success on our landings, Lew face planted, Andy Spun his boat mid air in a mystery move kind of way and we all laughed nervously, I watched the video footage later and still could not believe what we had hurled ourselves off.

Jon

Lew

Lew heading for a face plant

Monday – Allt Kinglass / Arkaig

The rain set in overnight and took the water levels from low to spate conditions, we drove over to Glen Etive and Dennis decided that the Allt Chaoruinn would have far too much water in it, 15 minutes in the car saw us getting onto the Allt Kinglass for the short stretch above the Orchy, only two drops of note, Pipesy managed to get the move of the day landing on his head and proving once again the value of wearing a decent helmet, if only to protect the bedrock. 

Driving back over to the Arkaig, we hiked in to look at the Allt Muhic, there was a scary amount of water running down under the bridge just below the get in, so an easy decision was made and we trooped back down the hill dragging our boats behind us. 

A late afternoon run down the Arkaig in big water meant we could have a go at the channel to the right of the island, the usual left run was tonking through with the water pushing towards a tree in the river at the left exit of the rapid.Another group paddled through and one of their number ended up swimming and in the tree, not a pretty sight by all accounts from those that saw it.

Tuesday – Allt Gleann a Chaolais

top drop

Back down to low water conditions with the rain having stopped the previous afternoon.A short drive over to Kinlochleven saw us parking up at the bottom of the Allt Glean a Chaolais.The walk up was heinous, no path and as the hillside had been felled recently the ground was churned up and a mess of holes and tree stumps.

Dennis dropped of the top fall and set up some safety in the pool and to obtain the all important video footage. I elected to go off first and as I dropped into the pool above the big drop I dented the front of my boat.I sat in the eddy and took some final advice from Chris, paddled two strokes forward and dropped off, vertically into fresh air, I tucked and ducked and landed arrow straight, submerged for a second, then popped up grinning like a Cheshire cat. 

I took stills pictures of the rest of the group as they each came over the drop in turn, X Pres managing to escape injury when landing sideways.

The river continues in a serious of rock slides and drops with one notable double boof drop into a pool, after the first boof there was a possibility of eddying out and being spun round so we put some safety in to catch boats and turn round if necessary, two of us needed this and I was very glad when Jon grabbed my boat kicked me round the right way and launched me off the last part of the drop.

 

Pipes airs the last drop

From here a drop to a pool exiting left to more chutes and slides, Chris catching each boat in turn before the constriction,putting on below the constriction sees you enter the last section of the river, a narrow chute to a pool then over a concrete lip staying hard right to avoid a midstream rock and the final drop. 

Wednesday-Allt Muhic

With considerably less flow than earlier in the week, the first drop looked more appealing, a rock slide into a pool, under the bridge and another drop to a large pool, we ran it multiple times to practice lines and take pictures.We scrapped down the rest of the river, hiked back up and ran it all over again.

Thursday Allt Chaoruinn

Back over the Glen Etive and it's the coldest day of the week, the water dripping of us onto the rocks as we inspect is freezing making for some unexpected fancy footwork.The top slide which would have looked daunting earlier in the week is now completed with a cursory grin.

Ecsatcy is a combination of drops and slides

Lew at the top of Ecstacy

Bringing us to Pinball

Jon

the most committing section, an initial boof ensuring you stay right, keeping your arms out of the way to avoid injury as you fly right down this section before turning left bouncing off the rocks and dropping off the 4 footer at the end to complete the rapid.The final chute on the river drops into a large pool and provides the opportunity of spinning your boat 180 degrees mid air, landing facing back upstream, the hammer move.

Jon mid hammer

Friday

The coldest day by far and we drove for a couple of hours to inspect the Meig, too low so we finished the day with a cold blast down the Arkaig.

Saturday

Lew Jon and I headed back for the Allt Chaoruinn, just to squeeze a cheeky couple of runs in beofre heading south

For Information on theses trips http://www.kayakojacko.plus.com/start/homemain.htm

Just a handfull of top pictures from our week.

Allt Mhuic

Allt Glean a Chaolais

Jon top drop

X Pres

The Pipesmaster on the Mhuic

Ian

Logics on the Arkaig

Jon hammering on the Allt Chaoruinn

Lew at the top of Pinball

Pinball

Allt Mheuran