February 03, 2007

Scotland 2006

An earlier start on Boxing day, saw my mum Jane, my big sister Becs and me squeezing into a jam packed car for the 9 hours drive to sunny Scotland. It was my mum's idea to spend a week up in Fort William for something a bit different for the Christmas holidays and how could I refuse the invite??

We met up with the delightful and always entertaining, Jen Sheridan and the ginger ninja himself, Ed Smith, early on Wednesday morning, in some car park somewhere. These guys are 'locals', well more local than me so they were my awesome guides for the week. Although I did worry slightly on our first trip, on the Spean Gorge...'Ed, where's this rapid about head banging?!'...'No worries Em, just around this next rock bit..I think'.......'ok around the next bit'....'maybe a bit further'.....'I'm sure it was here'...'yeah here's it is'...'oh no wrong bit'...I'm convinced he'd ever paddled that river before!

A cold looking Becs...I think she had fun!?

A very scenic trip on the Spean was followed by Thursday's low low low water paddle down the Etive. I managed to bash my face and loose a little skin on Letterbox and was apparently quite blue by the end, but it was all good fun. I'm glad I finally got to do this classic but am looking forward to more water next time.

A blurry me on Right Angle falls

Me and Becs heading off on the picturesque lower Nevis

The next day saw the rain! Winner! We hooked up with Chris from our bunkhouse and Dave Biggins who suggested we check out the burn run of the Fionne Lighe. Good plan (well I was thinking that on the river, definitely wasn't on the 2km walk in...). This short section was continuous, bouncy and just awesome! Dave proved to be almost as dodgy a guide as Ed...'Yeah this bits about 150m and there's a bit of ledge thing at the bottom, just boof it, it'll be fine'. Famous last words eh? So Dave took off, followed by Ed, Me, Jen and then Chris. Not 150m later, I saw the boys drop down in front of me and turn in horror, their faces were pretty entertaining but I got the hint in time, may be it was the screams of 'boof!' and 'paddle!' that did it. I stuck my line in the perfect spot it turned out and swung around just in time to see Jen getting back looped. She attained a sweet side surf right when Chris boofed straight on to her, good job she was upside down surfing and bounced off her hull right back into pourover. Some solid down time later, they both popped up looking cold and a little shocked, leaving Dave apologetic and slightly fearful, he was heard uttering to Ed more than once - 'dude, I'm so sorry I nearly killed your girlfriend'

Ed Smith scouting the Fionne Lighe

By new year's eve, the heavens had opened and rivers were full. We headed over to check out the Orchy, a bit different from the Lower Nevis section I took my sis down the day before, and was so stoked by what we found. Big volume rapids with glassy waves, and bouncy holes. Awesome. I still can't believe we were in Scotland, I thought it was streep creeks and hucking?! It was so much fun!

Paper, rock, scissors on the Orchy

All that was left to do was bring in the New Year. My good friend Lowri was also up there boating so I joined her family and friends for a night of celebrating in Fort Bill. Good times. Check out Lowri's trip on her site www.lowridavies.co.uk

A big thank you to Ed and Jen for showing me around and thanks to my mum and Becs for driving and kicking me out of bed every morning.




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