River Carron (Easter Ross) / Abhainn Carrann (Rois an Ear)

Ok, so today we had a blast down the Easter Ross Carron. It’s a great section of river, but just a wee bit far from Inverness for those of us used to having things like the Findhorn on our doorstep, so we don’t get up there all that often. On, and for the first time in literally years, 15 Inverness Canoe Club paddlers hit the river; normally we’re pushing hard just to get a quorum these days.

Levels were good; not too scrapy, but not to pushy. A whole lot better than our last visit there in 2011 when the river rose by a few feet within half an hour! And it was sunny to boot with no wind, which is very rare for the Carron when it’s a half decent level for paddling…

Anyhow, only a couple of swims in the first gorge, then after a bit of a slog, we reached Granny’s Hole. Most of us ran the river right route after the bridge, while the others provided safety. Just as well it was well protected, as there were quite a few swimmers and, after doing most of the rapid on its own, a holed Fluid Solo belonging to Foo…cracked from the bow to the cockpit…ouch!!

After the flotsam and jetsam was collected, we pushed on down to the Horseshoe Rapid (not sure if it has a proper name or not). Now, save in high water, this is never the nicest of rapids, but today it was horrible. Not a nice line in sight, but plenty for options for a stiff beating. So, most of us decided to scrape down the river right route; including Matt ‘Super’ Speke, who’s never one to skip a feature unless there’s no option!

Then, after some more flat stuff and minor waves, we reached the gorge at the get-out by the footbridge. Matt, Robert and Me went down the first section to show the rest of the group the lines, and then provided cover. No major incidents at first, then two, sorry, three swims in quick succession; these things are sent to try us!

Anyhow, with all boats emptied and folk ready for the final leg, we pushed down to the last section in the gorge; two stoppers, one narrow and grabby with an overhang and the second steeper with a big tow-back in the right (wrong?!) levels. We spent time checking out the lines and discussing options and scenarios with the group, then cracked on.

Matt, as ever, made it look easy. Robert over-cooked it and forced a roll. I paddled it quite well – even though I say so myself! In fact, everyone gave it a good shot, and we only one swim, which, to be fair, almost resulted in a sideways pin (nasty in that hole), but thankfully all worked out at the 11th hour and Martin manage to wash straight through into the waiting arms of a Palm throwbag.

So, and grand day on the river and great to see so many paddlers out and about, enjoying the fine paddling conditions; roll on the summer!

'