Sunday, December 06, 2009

Heading south for the winter

Another week, another kayaking trip. This time we sought out warmer climbs by heading south to the River Nith - this is a grade 3/4 river depending on the level, although for us it was mainly grade 3 or less. It was an intermediate trip, but I think that the Nith was a new river for everyone on this trip, so we didn't really know what to expect.

When we got down there we first went for a look at one of the rivers that flows into the Nith, the Euchan - we didn't really plan to paddle it (fortunately!), but wanted to have a scout out for possible future trips. It did look fun, but there was a gorge section containing a very narrow channel that looked potentially rather nasty. After this diversion we headed back to the Nith to find a suitable get in. We decided not to start at one of the regular get ins at Sanquhar (which to me is a bizarre name for a village - it contains an inappropriate "q"), but head a bit further down stream to where the river looked a bit more interesting (and to cut down on the length of the shuttle run, seeing as we only had a bike for that). We found a good spot about two miles further along the road, although we didn't realise quite how long it would take for Mike to make it back on the bike after taking the bus down to the get out - at the time we thought he was just being slow, but we felt quite bad about that when we drove back along the road after paddling and saw just how far it was.

There were a couple of minor rapids soon after getting in which we all got over fine, although at the bottom of one I stupidly came a cropper on a eddy line and capsized. I tried a couple of rolls, but failed and some had a pretty lame swim - my general ability getting into and out of eddy's is still pretty poor and something I should really practice more often (and have practised more on this trip too, as the other were quite nifty at getting into small eddy's behind rocks). Unfortunately there were then large sections of pretty flat water between the rapids until we got to the gorge section. From then on the rapids were a more closely spaced and things got more fun, but the light was drawing in, so we couldn't hang about and there wasn't much time for people to play about in the waves (I was generally avoiding playing about anyway, as my early swim [and uncomfortable boat] had slightly dented my confidence). I had another swim during, or just before, the gorge section (we weren't too sure where the gorge started, but it was just before a point where there was a large tree stump in the middle of the river). Again this was quite a lame swim, as I just got through the rapid fine, but capsized at the bottom and again couldn't quite manage to roll up. The rapids near the end were a lot more fun, and we did most of them blind due to not having the time to hang about. There was only one more swim on the trip, although not from me this time (and at a point just off the last drop on one of the rapids, where a swim is much less lame).

I think the general consensus was that there was far too much flat water on this trip, but the end section was good. It'll probably be a while before the Nith is done again as a club trip, but it could be better in higher water, or if you just do the gorge.

For the journey home, at the insistence of Tom ;), we decided to try and get Reggie Yates (on his Radio 1 requests show) to play Meatloaf's I would do anything for love. We all texted in, and Ben even managed to get through on the phone and have his details taken, but unfortunately our request went unheard.