Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Now for some proper Scottish Whitewater!!

After an exhausting week at sea coaching, training, and passing my 5 star sea assessment under the British Canoe Union in Anglesey; I am ready for some light hearted fun in some shorter boats.  I need to do some paddling just for ME!

3 years ago I came for the month of October to paddle all the rivers I could in Scotland.  (check out the MANY blog posts from that trip here) Steve Macdonald and the Beyond Adventure crew showed me the time of my life.  When I was invited to coach at this years UK Storm Gathering this year I KNEW I had to take the opportunity to get back up north to visit my old friends in Aberfeldy.

I'm soo glad I did.  This week has been amazing and it's only a few days old.  So far I am at twelve straight days of paddling and have not had enough yet.  I'm headed back out tomorrow, but I wanted to get a blog post out asap to share all the fun I've been having here in Scotland.

My first day here, we headed out to the River Tay for a quick morning run before blasting off to the Lyon.  The Lyon is a GORGEOUS run with several fun technical rapids separated by brief calm pools.  The fall colors are incredible in this the longest (and possibly the most beautiful) glen in Scotland.  Around every corner awaits an even more spectacular view than the last.

Today we hit up a new river to me.  The North Esk.  The N. Esk is a famous salmon fishing river on the East coast of Scotland.  It is fed by the Lee and the Mark rivers near Invermark.  Just downstream from there, it is joined by the Tarf, another important spawning trib.  The stream runs Southeast for about 35 miles before emptying into the North Sea.  The river is known to produce about a thousand salmon and grilse each season.  While we did not see any fisherman we DID manage to see several large salmon making their way up the river.  

Justin even managed to capture one on "film" as he was shooting pics of us paddling the last rapid on our second lap.  (yet another bit of proof that fish are not afraid of kayaks).

Local river expert and guide Nell picked the perfect river for the day and I can't thank him enough for his expertise and willingness to get after it day after day.  Thanks Nell!!  See you again tomorrow...  

Enjoy the pics and check back soon for more from my Scottish River adventures...

Justin and Struan have a look at the center wave at Grandtully my first day here

Justin gives it a go

Struan shows us both how it's REALLY done.  (While his classmates sit in their first period classes)
To his credit, Struan has worked hard enough throughout his high school career to afford himself a free period every Monday and Wednesday morning.  He takes advantage by getting some "training" in as he is striving to join the Great Britain National Slalom Team as soon as he can qualify.  It's amazing how far he and his brother Ben have come in the 3 years I've been away.  

Tom Sibbald looks towards yet another blind horizon line on the Lyon

Nell dropping into the double drop on the N. Esk as Justin sets support on river left

Justin boofing the last ledge on the double drop

I ran this one super clean sight unseen on the first lap of the day.  My second go around was average at best.

This was the last big one on the Esk just a few hundred meters above the take-out.  It had a super clean tongue on river left that made for an easy no stroke finish.  

Where's Justin?  I think he is looking for that fish he took a picture of...That was a DEEP hole on the first tier of the double drop on the N. Esk.  He managed to blast right through once he re-surfaced.  

This was my favorite image of the day.  I managed to capture Nell peeling out of a pocket eddy.  I love it so much because it reveals the incredible fall colors here.  The steep gorge walls are speckled with brightly colored fall leaves that matched his boat perfectly.  This shot simultaneously shows the peacefulness and serenity of the river in autumn contrasted by the exciting action and intensity of our sport.  What amazing places we get to experience as kayakers!  I would not trade it for anything in the world.   




Anonymous said...

Amazing whitewater shots. Also love the fall colors.. thanks for sharing and inspiring.
Lenora, SoCal

Jay said...

What a beautiful day on the river. And I agree - September and October are my favourite months in Scotland.