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Fàilte / Welcome

KayakScotland.net is mainly a blog of kayaking activities in the Highlands of Scotland, but it also includes some river guides, equipment reviews and other paddlesport-related content. Trips reviews, photos and articles are updated fairly regularly, so please bookmark the site and return soon to see what's new!

KayakScotland.net Updates

Folks, you’ll note that there haven’t been any updates to KayakScotland.net for many months. The reason for this is that I picked up a pretty nasty injury following an evening play boating on the River Garry back in June 2013.

While the docs don’t know exactly how I did it, and it might have nothing to do with kayaking, I somehow managed to tear the membrane (the ‘dura’) that holds in the cranial-spinal fluid (CSF). This fluid is what keeps the brain cushioned and if it leaks, it’s bad news. The leak has resulted in debilitating daily headaches (described by some as migraine on steroids – seriously, they’re insanely painful), constant blurred vision, ear pressure, tinnitus, pressure in my head like it was imploding and a whole host of other symptoms.

I wouldn’t wish this on anybody, so please do take care when you’re paddling, lifting, stretching or doing anything involving valsalva maneuvers. It can be cause by sudden twists under pressure (like whiplash movements in a stopper) or straining when lifting (watch out manual handling). It’s even been done swinging a golf club or straining on the toilet! It’s rare, yes, but not as uncommon as you might think. Mainly women get it following epidurals, but because the source of the leak is known, it’s normally easy enough to fix for most folk.

As I’ve found, it’s complex condition, there is very little known about it and very few specialists in Scotland (or the UK); it will take a long time to recover from fully. The main characteristic that differentiates it from so many other ‘headache’ conditions is that the symptoms disappear, or improve significantly, when you lie down, but increase significantly when you sit or stand.

CSF Leaks are not understood by many neurologists, let alone normal doctors, so if any of fellow paddlers ever gets severe headaches that disappear when you lie down, then reoccur when you stand again, go to A&E and insist that they check you for a CSF Leak and Intracranial Hypotension. It can be easier to find the leak the earlier they look. Sadly for me, it took almost three months for them to cotton on to what was going on and the leak had become undetectable (it’s probably begun to heal, but taking a LONG time).

I will not be the only paddler to have been hit with this life-changing condition and I won’t be the last, so here’s a wee bit of blurb about it all: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_cerebrospinal_fluid_leak

And here’s a forum where anyone that’s unlucky enough to get this can find help and support: http://www.csfleak.org

Anyhow, I hope to be back kayaking one day, but I cannot say when. So, for now, please enjoy reading about my paddling exploits of old, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to update this blog once more…happy paddling…

Abhainn Carrann an Iar / Wester Ross Carron

After walking away from an absolutely HUGE River Grudie, by Lochluichart, Torq, Arran and myself headed west to take a trip down the Wester Ross Carron for our first paddle of 2013.

Where’s the Water said the river was on high, but the SEPA guage is in the lower reaches and after a couple of confluences, so high on the guage actually meant a medium.

But, that din’t put a dampner on it and given I’d not been out for a proper paddle in almost 2 months, it proved a good way to get back in the saddle and burn off a few Christmas pounds!

After getting onto the river in a bleak, open and wind/rain-swept head of Glen Carron (about 1km south-west of Loch Sgamhain), we headed off. The river starts relatively narrow and shallow, but picks up speed and volume as the side of the glen close in.

The first feature comes immediately after a small footbridge that spans the flows about 1km north-east of Glencarron Lodge (the bridge is marked on the OS map). The sides of the river rise a little and the river becomes narrower. The fall was easy enough at medium levels – with a wee boof and good forward lean – but I recon it could get quite sticky in higher levels.

The river then opens up again and after about 1km or so you come across a large boulder in the middle of the flow. Easiest route at medium levels is to peel right, but check for logs and branches. We got out to inspect.

The first gorge follows not long after, with closed in sides and lots of small/medium stoppers and wee ledges. Easy enough (probably Grade 3) in medium flows, but I reckon i could get a bit fruity with more water! A nice section of river.

After a couple of 1km, the gorge opens up for a few hundred meters. The second gorge then follows, beginning with a right-angle right-hand bend. The most serious feature of the river is about 50m after this, so it’s wise to get out just before hte second gorge starts to check for trapped trees.

As this feature is a slot, with a right-angle lead in, strainers could be a real hazard. We intended to eddy out just above the drop, but a large tree has fallen into the eddie which makes this all-but impossible…Torq and Arran ended up running it backwards and I somehow managed to spin round just in time – lesson learned!

The rest of the second gorge is much the same as the first, although about half way down a wee trib enters from river right via what seems to be a paddleable 2-3m high fall, if someone gets up there to chainsaw out a trunk. Would be good for some funky headcam action!

Then the gorge then ends, after another kilometer the Allt a’ Chonais enters from the south (river left), then after another couple of km’s the get out is river right directly south of the level crossing near Jerry’s Hostel ()best place to park is Forestry Commission Scotland’s Achnashellach car park).

Anyhow, all-in-all it was a good trip. The main thing, however, to remember on the Wester Ross Carron is that it can get chocked with trees, so always check out the tree main features before running them…and watch out for overhanging rhododendron!

Only one photo, sadly, and it’s of me at the fist feature:


UKCC Level 2 – Moderate Water Endorsement

I’m happy to announce that I’ve passed my UKCC/BCU Moderate Water Endorsement.

I did the training on Saturday and the assessment on Sunday; both on an extremely cold and icy Middle Findhorn.

While the nerves were shaking, each of my sessions went well and I headed home wondering what to do next…BCU 5 Star Leader me thinks!

Well done too to Iain from Inverness Canoe Club who was also one of the successful candidates and braved the wintry conditions with me.