Top & Upper Findhorn

Well, after a week of rain, the options for our weekly Sunday paddle were many…with a good turn out, we decided to plump for the Top Findhorn.

By the time we reached the river and checked out the grade 3/4 at Dulsie Bridge we were in high-spirits and so decided to run the Upper section as well as the Top!

River Grade: 3(4)
My Boat: WaveSport Diesel 75
Group Size: 10

After one of the longest and most ‘faffy’ shuttle runs in history, we finally put onto the water and headed down the river. The Top section was at a good level and provided a good warm-up for escapades later on the Upper.

The only bit of bother on the Top was found at the narrow gorge section where most of us capsized on the huge hole. Half rolled up and three of us (myself included) decided it would be a nice day for a swim; there’s only so many rolls you can do in a row before pulling the deck seems like a good option!

[Ed. I have been kindly informed by Dave Young that I have not taken the p!ss out of myself enough for this completely avoidable, novice-style, panic-and-pull swim. Yes, I made a complete t!t of myself!]

As we approached Dulsie, we decided to jump out and check out what lay ahead. A few in the group decided to walk around to the bridge, while the rest of us opted to shoot it. The water was fairly high and hitting the eddie river-left at the top of the gorge was trickier than normal. But, most of us suceeded and we all headed on down to the main fall…

All was going well, until Eddie decided to attempt Dulsie backwards (well, almost upside-down/backwards). After manouvering into a better position, he unfortunately got eaten by the bottom hole and his boat got pinned; Pin No.1 of the day!

The rest of us made it down fine and Bernie did the honours by freeing the boat…on we paddled…

Not much more excitement, save a bit of surfing and playing, until we reached U-Bend. Although the levels were high enough to give us the option of boofing the ledge on river-right, a big tree had decided to lodge itself in the pool below the fall, so we decided to err on the side of caution and portage.

Leven’s Gorge provided a lot of fun; with surf waves, drops and boily eddie lines. One or two capsizes, including Bernie who decided to hit a rooster tail side on (!), but all fun and no real incidents…

Just as fatigue was setting in, we arrived at JCB. Given the water was fairly high, we decided to take a look before running it…as we approached on foot, it all looked fairly easy and we wondered why we’d bothered getting out…but then as we drew level with the hole, what looked tame from above opened-up into a meaty hole with a nasty tow-back followed by another nasty hole on the other side of the river…

Despite this, a line (river-right to river-left) could be made out and most of us decided to give it a shot. The water was pretty pushing and I for one missed the first eddie, but we all made it down safetly. Scrub that, Eddie and Kenny decided to visit the fishes for one last time, roll on Pin No.2!

Out came the throw bags and karabiners and after about 5mins of pulling and pushing, we freed Eddie’s boat for the second time; that’s one solid boat…thumbs up to the boys at Perception kayaks!

So, with only a 1km left til Ardclach, we sauntered on down towards to the old church and the get out. It was a top paddle with plenty of excitement and play opportunities; a lovely sunny day and the first ‘warm’ paddle of the New Year!

What’s next week got in store I wonder?!


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