Sneaky Freaky Creeky – A Scottish Kayaking Film (Review)

Santa can’t be guaranteed to call at Taigh Dhàibhidh (ma’ hoose) these days, so I bought myself a wee pre-Christmas prezzie this week to ensure that I took ownership of something new over the festive period; Sneaky Freaky Creeky – A Scottish Kayaking Film.

It might not as polished as the pro-filmed HD videos being churned out of the USA by the likes of Bombflow or Rider of the Year, the weather might not be quite so warm and sunny, the sun tans may be few and far between and the accents may not sound quite so exotic (or rediculous, depending on which way you look at it), but it’s gritty, high-adrenaline, warts-and-all, top-drawer Scottish paddling at its best! Sneaky Freaky Creeky - A Scottish Kayaking Film

Staring the epic Dave Biggin (Falls of Clyde fame), along with Thom Brown, Ed Smith (the dude from Canoe & Kayak Magazine), Callum Anderson, Rich Waterworth, Neil Robinson and friends, the film constitutes a non-stop 30min tour of some of the best white water that Scotland has to offer; including the rivers Etive, Orchy, Nevis, Falloch and many more…even the WigWam Burn (or Allt Uachdar Thìre to give it its proper Gaelic name) near Crianlarich!

There are some great drops, fantastic lines and one or two classic beat-downs. Any Scottish boater who watches the film is bound to find themselves glued to the screen, shouting: been there, done that, lost my t-shirt there, swum that, not done that, NEVER doing that…and probably a few other unrepeatables!

It may be filmed close to home, where peaty water rules the roost and the sparkling blue waters of the Alps and continental America are but a day dream, but that doesn’t hold it back for one moment; indeed it makes it ever more special. The film is full of wee gems, contains some outstanding footage, some (until now) best-kept secrets and a few epic drops on less-paddled sections of water to whet (or indeed ‘wet’) your whistle.

While it’d be nice to see the lads get some money behind them, along with a good film crew, and create a masterpiece of white water cinematography which sells Scottish paddling to the world (hint, hint Dagger, Visit Scotland etc.), this is an excellent piece of work and, without a doubt, will be inspirational to many…now you’ve watched it, get out there and do it!

Get yourself a copy of Sneaky Freaky Creeky here:

Great Glen Canoe Trail / Slighe Churaichean a’ Ghlinne Mhòir (Review)

Great Glen Canoe Trail
A complete guide to Scotland’s first formal canoe trail

I’d been waiting for this book to become available for sometime; ever since the opening of the trail had been announced in summer 2011 and I’d been enticed into canoeing following my trip down the River Spey, from Kincraig to Spey Bay.

Great Glen Canoe Trail Guide

The book is well written and well structured as outdoor trail guides go. All of the information you could possibly require to have a great trip down the Great Glen is in there and some really useful tips and advice as well.

Sections within the book include a general overview of the trail, a low-down on all of the equipment you’ll need, trip planning advice, safety consierations, route guides/options, camp site locations and some handy historic environment and wildlife commentary. There’s even some great photography included within the pages, which makes the whole experience very hard to resist!

It’s a great value book and looks good to boot; so get yourself a copy, a paddle, a boat (some paddling friends, if you don’t already have them) and then hit the Great Glen Canoe Trail – what are you waiting for?!

You can grab a copy of the book from:

More information of the Great Glen Canoe Trail can be found here:

Tall Stories – A Biography of Andy Jackson (Review)

I’m sure that many people will probably have bought, borrowed or read Tall Stories: Andy Jackson a Biography by now, but, until this week, I hadn’t and had been meaning to get hold of a copy for literally years.

I’d heard many good things about the book, but I still wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from it. Was it going to be an account of Andy’s first descents and kayaking adventures, or would it focus more on him as a person rather than a paddler? How much detail would it go into? How would reading about such an influential paddler cut short in his prime make me feel?

Well, for someone who rarely reads a book cover-to-cover, I was hooked from the moment I completed the first page; so much so that I stayed up ’til 2am to finish it off. It soon became clear that, for Andy, passion, paddling and politics were intrinsically linked and this theme continued throughout the book; much as it did throughout his life.

As someone who is a keen paddler, a lover of the great outdoors, supports the underdog, believes strongly that land belongs to the many, not the few, and is passionate about Scotland’s political direction, for me, progressing through this book was like reading about the best friend I never had.

Tall Stories - A Biography of Andy Jackson

No doubt Andy had his flaws, perhaps not least in terms of his failure to avoid the garish 1990s kayaking gear trends, but he was also responsible for pushing the limits of paddlesport, paving the way for technological and theoretical progression, and for fighting the corner of paddlers’ access rights.

Had it not been for his tenaciousness, albeit alongside that of his fellow campaigners, the access rights that we now take for granted under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act may not have been secured or may have been far less robust. If it weren’t for his energetic gallivanting around the Highlands, folk may still be jittery about paddling some of the ditches, burns and drops that now make up a standard outing to the north these days.

Yes, others would no doubt have made it to these natural fun parks eventually, but Andy pushed the pace, lead the way and set the level of the bar for the rest of us to follow. I never knew Andy personally, and I only met him once at a very wet, cold and windy Grandtully when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, but having read his biography I now feel that I have a knowledge of, and appreciation for, the guy; something that normally only comes from real life experience - the mark of an exceptional and absorbing story!

Although the book focuses on Andy Jackson, Ron Cameron (the author, a crofter, a Gàidheal – Scots Gaelic speaker - and a fine paddler himself), also touches upon Andy’s relationships with the great and good of the paddling world and includes some lovely anecdotes written by friends and family; love and romance, the teacher(s) and the protégé, first descents and world expeditions, run-ins with the law and friendships and fall outs…it’s all there!

In short, Tall Stories is a fascinating, moving, funny, serious, political, adventurous, informative, down-to-earth, inspirational and accessible read…it’s a must-have for your paddlesport library and a great insight to one of Scotland’s great kayakers!