(Taken from Mouthfuls Summer 06)
Scotland Easter 2006
“What’s pink and white and brown all over?……………………. Battenturd!”
–George Mortimer 25.03.2006
The eternal quote from Mr Mortimer set the tone for the week as we stood around in a Morrison’s car park waiting for Tim Ripper to finish his business.
The night drive had gone without incident but fortunately plenty of shenanigans in motorway traffic jams involving window wiper lifting and Dickie hanging out of the van door in a true action man stylee.
The first river to be conquered was the Spean Gorge. A low water level and the warm sun were just what was needed for an easy first day. The only mentionable points were the Head-banger (Witch’s Cauldron) and the constriction with it’s horrible portage, oh and of course the miserable git at the end who came and took photo’s of the nasty ‘Solent University’ kayakers getting changed near his house (Good call Danny).
The Epic – Roy (Upper and ½ Gorge)
The pre-paddle activity for the day was snow-
boating but with an absence of snow and no sign of the shuttle, we did it anyway. A mighty hill + Robson NRG + Roland = An awesomely funny video
With the dent popped out of Roland’s boat and the shuttle returned we set out. The upper section was a good bouncy grade 3 with Serpents Tail catching a lot of people out and dumping them in a big hole. The rest of the section went smoothly… the calm before the storm.
The gorge section started with a long inspection of a relatively easy rapid, and then a portage of the “Grade 5-it’s gunna-kill-you-huge-undercut”. 50 metres downstream disaster struck in the form of a rather large hole resulting in numerous swims and a spectacular injury to Georges head. The group lead by James, on the sighting of frantic arm waving and carnage made a near vertical exit from the Gorge and went to investigate. The situation we were greeted by was that of 3 swims, 3 lost boats, 2 lost paddles and the group being separated by a large gash. We trundled down the river and by a stroke of luck we spotted Matt’s boat pinned by a large tree just above a small rapid section. A rescue effort ensued whilst Tim and Martin walked out to fetch the transport.
The boat was rescued and people ferried from one side to the other. Then it was only left to walk out up a very steep hill! Thanks to Nottingham Trent University must be issued at this point as they gave Tim and Martin a lift to get the Van and also found and rescued the remaining equipment.
“One up the bum, no harm done” – Group
Day 3 – The Orchy
Some great rapids, a fast and fun playwave, an example of how not to run safety on a rapid from another University and some exciting jumps off a rock wall into a Grade 6 rapid sums up the Orchy.
The evenings entertainment was a viewing of Shrek 2, German pornography, lots of Vodka and Irn-Bru and the Ten rotation challenge (Ten rotations followed by a challenge) in which in short was drunk people spinning round until very dizzy and then trying to run in a straight line in a confined space. Tim Ripper’s attempt guaranteed him a place in the Ten Rotation Hall of Fame (Good work Timmy).
The Next day offered some respite to anyone in need with the choice of a tinkle down the lower Roy or a high water run down the Spean gorge.
The lower Roy was unbelievably dull so will not be mentioned here. The more enthusiastic group of ‘messers’ set off to the Spean Gorge where they met another paddler who was described as “Straight out of the 80’s” and whose kit looked like it came from the depths of our very own kit shed. The river was run, smiles ensued and all was fine. So off to the café they went where they had a moment of clarity and realised there was time to run another river. The obvious choice was to return to the Roy Gorge and salvage some pride. Little is known of what happened here but what we do know is that Danny said it was one of the best rivers he had ever run and in honour of it his first child will be named ‘Roy Gorgina,’ so my guess is that it wasn’t too bad!
Day 5 – Falls of Lora
An early start was needed to catch the tide and the awesome wave which it brought. As the tide falls, the entire content of Loch Etive tries to do the same and piles under a bridge to form a massive surging wave. The long arm of the law appears to reach to every part of this country, including the stanchions of Connel Bridge. With the police banning us from using this usual photographer’s hotspot there wasn’t really any point in enduring the massive beatings following the wave. A few people endured some trashings for the adrenaline rush of the wave, and it wouldn’t be nice to name and shame the young red Riot Air paddler who parted company with his boat. Most people had some old-skool fun on the small wave ‘round the side, with paddle spins and guitar playing being the hottest moves on show.
Day 6 – Ben Nevis and River Etive
With the weather looking stunning for Scotland at Easter (i.e. slightly less cloud than usual), some of the group decided to attempt the mighty Ben Nevis. This merry band of intrepid explorers set off in earnest with promises to be back by 1pm to go paddling. As they struggled on upwards, this time was moved to 2pm. Then 3pm. By this stage they were sliding along through ankle-deep snow. Upon reaching the summit, Dickie decided that the only thing left to do was to get naked, so strip off all his clothes he did. Photos can be supplied on request, for all those that are interested in what the fuss is about. Meanwhile, the rest of the party decided to go and paddle the Etive. When the weary mountaineers arrived they found the paddlers approximately 20 yards downriver from the get-in, with one boat recirculation at the bottom of Triple 2, having already rescued Mr Hill, whose ‘deck popped, forcing him to swim’. When everyone (boats included) was safe back on the side it was decided to abandon the idea of paddling the rest of the river. Lots of fun was had running Triple 3, with different challenges: how deep can you go; run it backwards and a hammer to finish the day.
Day 7 – No Etive
After packing up the huts, we said goodbye to Roy Bridge and headed south. We stopped to look at the Etive but it was still too high. After lots of faffing about who was to be in which car, we left Scotland behind and trundled on down the M6.
- Pyranha Truck
- Rolls Royce Phantom
- Huge dump truck
And so we managed to survive Scotland, ( quite amazing considering we didn’t go to the pub once the whole time we were there! I know, it’s unbelieveable…). Big thank you to Danny for all his effort running the joint, and also to the river leaders, van and car drivers – we couldn’t have done it without you.