Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Down the Doon

[Reposted from here]

Yesterday a small group of us (Euan, Nick, Rupert and myself) took a departure from the normal north westerly or easterly river trips and went south of Glasgow into Ayrshire to paddle the River Doon (aka the Ness Glen). This river runs out of the Loch Doon dam through the Ness Glen gorge, straight over a small weir followed by a quick succession of rapid sections for about a mile.

The weather on that day was pretty overcast, but it was reasonably warm (although a bit breezy when standing by the Loch getting changed) and decent paddling weather. On heading down from the road to the river we were told by a nice old couple that the river looked "sporting", which we didn't really know what to make of, but hoped it boded well. After getting in above the weir we decided to give it a miss as there was some nasty looking metal underneath it (which from reading this has apparently taken the end off at least one boat), and started up proper just below it. It didn't take long to reach the first major rapid which we all navigated safely and were quickly onto the next. The next section saw my first swim of the day when I got pinned on a rock (which became a bit of a recurring theme for me) and the water coming over the back of my boat sent me under - I blame this on the low footbridge that I hit with my paddle just beforehand and made me lose control, but the other swims weren't so easy to pass the buck. The river was pretty shallow and narrow all the way down the gorge, so it was easy to make my way out, but my boat and paddle were a bit harder to reach and Euan bravely went in to fetch the paddle. At the next, slightly larger, rapid (I may be getting the ordering mixed up) we got out to have a look for the best route first. Then Rupert showed us the route not to take, before Nick showed a far nicer line and we followed over without any incident. Following that I had a couple more swims and pins (I had to be helped out of one pin by an old man walking by who gave me a shove with his walking stick), one of which was particularly gimpy when I just hit a log and went over, but everyone else made it down fine. This section of the river was great fun as there was always something to do and the rapids were challenging, but not too intimidating. There were a lot of low bridges, branches and obstacles to look out for, although that added a bit of character to the river.

The worst bit of the day was the next half hour (probably far longer than, but I kind of lost track of time) paddling almost flat water to the get out. I'd recommend for future trips to the Doon to get out at the bottom on the Ness Glen section and potentially just walk back to the top along the footpath, that is unless you really enjoy dull paddles, scraping your boat along shallow sections and weaving in and out of overhanging trees and bushes.

Overall it was a great trip and it's definitely a river I recommend again. Swim count: 3 (all me).