Written by Garry Miller
Well here we were again, 4 Hurley paddlers loosely grouped as the BOFINs, in a car heading for Scotland. Some of you may know that we don’t have a particularly good history when it comes to paddle trips to Scotland (see here for more:-http://www.kayakojacko.co.uk/community/the5200/archive/bof.htm ) but undeterred by this we decided to try again but this time in a different car! The plan was a week in Scotland on one of KJO’s “Scottish Classic” weeks, 3 of the Bofins group plus one extra, to push us beyond our normal playboating and Grade 2- Grade 3 rivers, start to nail some Grade 4 and hopefully learn a bit in the process.
“The group on the river – Garry and Ken at the back, Lucille and Mark in the middle, with Gary from KJO with his back to us”
Did we achieve the plan this time? Well the pictures should help to show that but as a few examples:
• We actually made it to Scotland and back in one piece!
• On day 2 I beat my personal record for the highest drop I had ever run before, 3 times, and all three drops were on the same river and within a single 200 metre stretch
• Everyone had at least one swim just to prove we were pushing the limits!
• At least two of the swims were potentially serious rescue situations i.e. not coming out without external help but dealt with quickly and effectively with good rope cover
• We were all confidently running Grade 4 and 4+ rivers by mid week and going back for more.
• We ran quite a few of the Scottish “Classics” including the Spean, the Etive, the Orchy, the Loy, and the Archaig
• We also hit some of the best steep tributaries including Allt Kinglass, Allt Chaoruinn and Allt Mhuic.
“ Mark with an interesting line on the Allt Kinglas”
“Lucille getting the Boof right on the Loy”
So do any of these descriptions sound like you:-
• average intermediate boater looking to push themselves a bit.
• Tend to paddle Thames weirs in your play boat because it’s convenient
• Occasionally run the Treweryn or the Dart but not much more
• Need to push yourself a bit on some bigger rivers
• Like the look of the pictures of the big falls but not sure you could do it
“Garry nailing one of the falls on the Allt Mhuic ”
“Ken nailing the first falls on the Allt Mhuic”
If any (or all) of the above apply to you then you really need to make the effort to get up to Scotland. Get some mates together or hassle your local club, book the time of work, negotiate with the family or whatever you have do but give it a go. If time is an issue then consider paying for the local knowledge and safety skills of KJO or similar as they were excellent for us or alternatively take the guide book and a group you trust but make sure the rescue skills in your group are good as you may well need them and it could be you on the wet end of the rope! If it rains run the tributaries (great rock slides and falls), if it doesn’t then you can run the big rivers in low water or alternatively just wait as its bound to rain soon.
To slightly paraphrase Arnie “We’ll be back!”