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A Drop of Whitewater, Kayaking the Royal Dee by Dave and Fiona Gentle

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A Drop of Whitewater, Kayaking the Royal Dee by Dave and Fiona Gentle

We were meant to put a trip on in October 2021 to expand on the 3.5-day Cairngorms River Dee trip we did in October 2019. That didn’t happen due to illness, so to get on the rivers whilst avoiding the fishermen who come back in February, we invited LCC members to join us this January. Scottish COVID law says no more than three family mixes per group, so we were limited to numbers for the trip and hostel accommodation. We camped in 2019 but we didn’t fancy camping in January in Scotland.

To break the long 6.5-hour journey to Ballater, we stopped off at the River Nith for 2.5 hours on-the-water to start our 5-day boating break on Sunday 9th January.

The Nith has a bridge gauge which was just over III (3), (SEPA 1.2m). The river guide said that will be fine, but it was quite a bit too much volume for a first run. There were plenty of wave trains, water noise and some very interesting sections. We only got a few photos as the rest of the time we daren’t let go of our paddles.

Everyone slept well that night, after the remaining journey to Ballater through the snow covered Cairnwell Pass (Glen Shee), Cairngorms, Aberdeenshire.

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Day-1 on the River Dee (Royal Dee as they call it as you pass Balmoral Grounds, as can be seen in the pictures) was a snowy, icy start and very little water (SEPA 0.5m). The rapids at the start of the day still gave some excitement and smiles, the valleys were very scenic and went on for miles (4.5 hours).

Day-2 had us paddling past Balmoral. It had rained the evening before, so the level came up to 0.8m which gave a good run for 3 hours 20 minutes.

Day-3 on The Dee took us from Cambus oMay to Aboyne Bridge. Due to all the blue skies and sun the snowmelt took the river to the highest level we’ve seen at 0.93m.

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Our final river day was the fifth of the trip and the fourth on The Dee, from Aboyne Bridge to Banchory Lodge Hotel. Potarch Bridge Rapids were fun. The level was 0.85m which increased the wave trains and features. Each time we thought we’d done them all there were some more.

The shuttles each day soon passed. We saw some great sunsets, plenty blue skies and sunshine and paddled through plenty white water with amazing scenery, enough to warrant another trip hopefully this October.

Four of us went and four came back, which is always a bonus. The Team – Steph, Aiden, Fiona and Dave.

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The photo – Banchory Lodge Hotel final post-paddle chat.