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Scottish Easter Paddling Holiday based at Kinlochleven – coordinator Roy McHale Thursday, 13th April  to Monday 16th April 2017 (4 days)

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Click here for more information and to book………

See  below from last year’s newsletter to see what the weekend is all aboutIdeal location for everyone in the club – non paddlers welcome.  Something for everyone!

39  is the maximum number on this trip to ensure there is enough cover for all the trips.   We will contact you with more details – list of who is going so you can share transport nearer the time.  The area is ideal for Sea Kayaking, loch paddling, grade 2 rivers, grade 3-4 rivers, Open Boat trips, walking, Skiing and mountain Biking. There is something for everyone.

Cost is £17.50 per night but you need to pay for all 4 nights. We have booked the whole hostel for all of the Easter so that is £70 for a place on the trip. 1 x 2, 3 x 3, 5 x 4 and 1 x 8 bedded rooms available and will be allocated by Roy once you have booked.

There is a camping / Camping van option which is the same cost as the hostel (£70) and must be pre-booked using the bookwhen form below as it is a very busy Easter and most of the tent spaces have been reserved for walkers on the West Highland Way. We would prefer it if you stayed in the hostel rather than camped.Roy McHale email: Roy.McHale AT

We are in the Blackwater hostel again this year. Lab road Kinlochleven PH504SG Telephone 01855831253

30/03/16 Liverpool Canoe Club -Scotland 2016  31/3/16  2 Fresh. 1 Salty and a Snowy

Good Friday Fresh Water

For Carole and I, the annual Scottish Easter Holiday kicked off on Friday morning with a paddle down the middle Orchy (grade 3 – 4) . It was our first white water trip since the club paddle down the Dee from Carrog Bridge at the end of January so we were looking forward to getting on a river again. A big group left the Blackwater Hostel and drove up the stunningly beautiful Glen Coe and over Rannoch More to our put-in at Bridge Of Orchy. After the usual shuttle dance with the cars, we split into manageable groups and got on the water.

Each river leader had slightly different ideas and, while some spent some time coaching on the decent, others “smashed it” and got down much quicker.

With high pressure dominating our weather for over a week, the level was a bit low so some of the features contained more rocks to bounce off than was ideal. Everyone seemed to cope and the result was only a handful of swims. Despite the chilly water temperature and wind, it was a really great return to white water paddling.

The group I was in was very ably led by Keith Steer and Ian Bell but other notables also kept everyone in our group in check. The incident that sticks out most in my memory is when Dom Fahey took a dip and his boat got pinned on a rock. What followed was a great display of white water safety and rescue skills. Ian live baited out to the boat on a back line but couldn’t quite get near enough. From the opposite side of the river, Keith was without bank support so made a leap of faith for a nearby boulder. His aim was good and he climbed over it to budge Dom’s boat back into play. The FSRT training we did recently enabled me to play a part helping to collect the paddling debris and boat from below the feature.

The Orchy is almost a park and play river with a good road running very close to most of the features. This also means that it’s a relatively easy portage around some of the stuff that looks nasty while also giving a great view of the brave souls having a go at running the grade 5 monsters.

A fantastic trip, quite long for Scotland, and I went back to the hostel tired but buzzin’

Paddlers – lots of us

 Salty Saturday

Because a number of us had driven up with an armoury of toys, six of us headed off to do a sea trip. The forecast was decidedly mixed up but it was clear that wild conditions weren’t too far away. The local forecast was for rain and variable winds so we opted for a nearby trip that Carole and I have done quite a few times.

We got on the water close to Polanach on the Oban road and padded off on a windless sea towards Shuna. Low cloud and drizzle was hanging in the shallow corries and it was obvious that it wasn’t going to be the greatest day from a “scenic views” perspective.

Trevor Strain was with us and, although he’s paddled quite a bit in the past, he’s only recently joined the club and got back into it. This was his first ever sea trip so we all watched him carefully to make sure someone was at hand to fish him out quickly should he take a dip. As it happened he did very well ….. but more of that later.

Leaving Shuna close by to our left, we paddled through some small skerries where there are normally plenty of birds and seals and even some porpoise to be seen. With Easter being so early this year, the birds were in short supply but we did spy a few seals. By the time we reached a beach on the north eastern end of Lismore, Trevor was showing signs of tiring so we had a decent lunch break to help him recover. He had hired a Delphin from the club racks and, even with a variety of skeg positions, found it difficult to keep it in a straight line even in the almost none-existent zephyr of a breeze. We suggested altering the trim of the boat by packing it differently but the wind had piped up to f3 by the time we had finished our lunch so the game had changed.

Back on the water again, we headed off towards Port Appin with small waves hitting us beam on. Again, we all watched Trevor anticipating a swim but he kept upright all the time and did very well in the “tippy” conditions. I knew there was a pub on the beach in Appin so mentioned this to Trevor and it became obvious that he wanted to head in for a warm and a rest while the rest of us completed the trip. After lifting his boat way up above the tide and seeing him safely into the pub, the remaining 5 of us headed up in very little tide and crossed out of the harbour and out in the rain towards the southern tip of Shuna and then back up the sound to our cars. For those with sharp eyes, a whacking big otter was spotted scurrying across the pebble beach and into the water.

Returning to the pub to collect Trevor we were grateful for the round he bought and it was evident that the rest (and the whiskey) had revived him.

Paddlers – Carole Thomas / David Rider / Anthony Vaccaro / Don Brooks / Trevor Strain / Pete Thomas

Lower Etive Sunday

This section is often overlooked by the middle section where most paddlers head.  However, the lower Etive is well worth a paddle.  It`s where things happen at a much more leisurely pace. Fun surf waves and small holes frequent the first couple of miles of this section before you arrive quite unexpectedly at a short grade 4 section. However, as it is the only part of this section where the river disappears from view it should be easy to spot. Access to the fall is easy for protection and a swim should be short and reasonably safe. We didn’t read the guidebook properly and found the G4 (or maybe its 4+ or 5- at the level) when we observed the people in dancers ahead of us backlooping and swimming!

Several sticky holes precede this rapid across the river before the river disappears around a corner where the water is funnelled down a channel on river left. The main fall consists of two short drops in quick succession, which can be run through the guts in relative ease depending upon experience and length of boat.

Once past this section the river eases up and the rapids become more infrequent while the flat stretches grow longer and more frequent. It is worth noting that there is a lengthy paddle out on this section and adverse weather conditions should be taken into account eg. snow, hail etc.

This is an excellent beginner/ intermediate section although there is a hidden bonus for experienced paddlers…

Let me recommend the River Etive as arguably the best river for swimming in the UK. The pools are simply delicious. Dark, deep, plenty bombing and diving to be had. The waterfalls just add to the experience. If you catch a good spell of weather in April / May, the water should just heat up enough. One downside – midges. June to August, make sure you have your repellent at the ready. The scenery surrounding you as you take a look is simply stunning. –

Snowy Ski Sunday

Not only had many of us brought sea and white water boats but quite a few had also brought ski gear or had planned on hiring stuff up on the slopes.  We woke on Sunday morning to look out of the hostel window to see that a decent dusting of new snow had fallen during the night.

It had been 20 years since I wore my old ski mountaineering boots and touring skis but I had spent some time refurbishing them recently and was hopeful that they would last me for just one last piste bashing session. Unfortunately I was wrong and the boots were agony to wear and by the end of the day, I had bruised protuberances – painful!

Despite all that, the conditions were surprisingly good and even the sun came out quite frequently to help us. We were a mixed group of abilities and some had skis while some had snowboards. Glen Coe White Corries is a pretty small ski area so it’s very easy to meet up with everyone even though we were skiing different runs throughout the day.

By mid-afternoon most of us headed for the cafe and it was warm enough to sit outside and gaze up at the slopes. Being Easter Sunday, a lot of kids were there digging in the snow for hidden Easter eggs and, somehow or other, I’m sure I saw Sarah pop one in her mouth and feast on the illicit chocolate – maybe not, perhaps it was just my imagination.

A well worthwhile day on the piste which finished in a pleasant round of drinks and a meal in the well known Clachaig Inn

Skiers – Carole Thomas, Kirk Williams, Chris Murphy, Sarah Gille, Leanne Murray, Ciaran Fahey, Trevor Strain, Adam Carey, Pete Thomas

Fresh Water Monday (with a pinch of salt)

Most people were heading home on Monday morning and I confess that both Carole and I were inclined to do the same …… until Jenny Brown worked her magic and persuaded us to paddle the Awe, a friendly grade 1 – 3 (depending on levels) that’s more or less on the way home.

Putting in up at the Brander Barrage we paddled down in the spring sunshine. Any weariness that was felt back at the hostel was soon dispelled as we soaked up the pleasures of this delightful little river and Keith devised all sorts of fun and games which helped Carole and me get into the swing of things. He had us flaring of rocks, boofing and bashing about and even twirling paddles in one hand around our heads. Needless to say there were one or two spills when some of the more energetic moves were attempted but it was all great fun.

There are plenty of play features and friendly holes so it took us almost 3 hours to pick our way down the 6km.

Our get out was on the sea Loch Etive and, spitting distance from being home and dry, both Carole and I were heading for the same gap in nothing more than a tiny ripple of water. I had watched Ian being deflected by something underwater so knew that an obstruction was there. I’m not certain Carole had seen this but instead of paddling through, she hesitated for a moment and, even though I tried to back paddle, I hit what looked like a sharp rock (turned out to be part of a tree). My line wasn’t great and it flipped me and pinned me side on. Even though the water by this point was moving slowly, it held me fast and I couldn’t get myself free. By now my paddle was also pinned by something underwater so I couldn’t even try to lever myself out of the problem. Eventually Chris Thompson paddled back to me and swung my bow round so the boat was back in business. I was now underwater and banging my head on the bottom. I pulled my deck and swam to the nearby bank with my boat but minus my paddle. A search party set about trying to find it stuck to the bottom and sure enough it was eventually returned to me (pity really as I’ve been wanting an excuse to buy a nice new one).

Thanks to everyone for the fun and games and for freeing me from what might have been a long night out under the stars. Paddlers – Keith Steer, Sara Bergqvist, Ian Bell, Carole Thomas, David Rider, Jenny Brown, Chris Thompson, Pete Thomas

Thanks a bunch to Roy McHale for arranging this again. It’s a fantastic venue whenever Easter falls so make sure you book on next year and bring lots of toys.

 More Photos……