Saturday, March 10, 2012

First trip to Fort William

Today saw my first ever kayaking trip north of Glencoe - in fact it was my first ever trip north of Glencoe up the west coast of Scotland for any reason. The canoe club were having a full weekend of boating up around Fort William, but I decided just to head up for the day. With an early start I managed to meet the rest of the group at the village hall in Ballachulish at 08:10. We first headed to check out the Loy, which was a bit low, so carried on further along the road to the Arkaig. This river did have a fair amount of water in it.

The river is a fairly easy run except for a large Grade 4 rapid (the "Main Event") near the start, which is where we spent the majority of the time. We spent a while checking the rapid out and looking at possible lines. In general it was looking pretty hefty. I was at the back of the first trio to head down the rapid. There were a lot of huge holes along the way and I seemed to get stopped in all of them. I made it all the way down, but got stopped before the final drop, so had no speed to carry me off the rapid. Basically I got flipped at the bottom and after one failed roll attempt I became the day's first swimmer. The rapid claimed a few other swimmers after me, but quite a few people went back for seconds and thirds. I decided one swim was enough for the day for me, so didn't give it another go.

The rest of the river was pretty uneventful with just a few small rapids. We practice a bit of ferrying and breaking in and out of eddies. I did have some rather novice wobbles a couple of times on eddy lines (I don't think anyone else noticed), but other than that did manage without another swim. The rest of the group headed to another river to get a short run in, but I preferred the option of getting dry and heading back to Glasgow while it was still light.