Upper & Middle Findhorn

After a relaxing festive period in a wee cottage at Culkein Drumbeg, near Lochinver, without a kayak in sight, we took advantage of the heavy rain and snow melt and hit the river for the first time in 2012.

Matt, myself, Lucas and Paul headed over to the Findhorn with our fleet of Nomads, the plan to run the Upper and Middle sections in a one’r. Dulsie was pumping andRandolph’s was all-but washed out…good times!

TheUpper Findhorncan be a bit of a slog at times, but not today. Big wave trains (and large stoppers to catch those asleep at the wheel) made the journey fast and we’d reached Ardclach before we knew it.

Well, almost, we had a wee hairy experience with Paul capsizing at U-Bend, rolling up on the third attempt in the massive diagonals, only to capsize and roll up again just next to the Siphon. It definitely pays to know a river and know when not to pull your deck and swim!

The Middle Findhorn was fast, with most of the features washed out and some meaty stoppers, but it was a good laugh…and to make someone’s Christmas, we even found one of the lost boats listed on UKRGB, so we’ll get that back to the owner as quick as we can.

Upper Findhorn (Uisge Eireann Uarach)

Another excellent trip down the Upper Findhorn today, with Dave Y, Paul and Tim. Originally planned to try the Fechlin as the Tarf was running high on Where’s the Water, but for one reason or another, never quite made it…

The river was a wee bit higher than last week and Dulsie, with its no warm-up get-in, was just a wee bit more intimidating! Still, we all made it down in one piece, albeit there were a few wet heads (thankfully not me)!

The river was moving fast today, to the trip went quicker than is often the case on the upper. U-bend looked, to me at least, less favourable than last week, so I decided to walk it. Paul, however, gave it a shot and, well, said hello to the fishes…

After failing to bag him from the bank, Paul managed to swim to the side a bit lower down. We then had to gather his boat and begin the search for his paddle. Normally I carry a set of splits, but sod’s law, I forgot them today. Thankfully, however, Giles from Glenmore Lodge floated past and lent us his splits…only for us to find Paul’s original paddle about 200m further down the river!

Following on from the Leven’s Gorge fun, and one or two more rolls from certain members of the team, we headed on down towards JCB. A fairly easy line today, with a lovely play wave half way down. I decided to crack on while the others discussed lines and managed to get a sweet surf or two - good times.

After that, it was a fairly quick boot down towards Ardclach. Got the boats loaded up onto my cars to run the shuttle back to Dulsie to get Tim’s motor; always seems to spend more time faffing on the bank or with cars rather than boating!

Oh, and Giles appeared just before we left to reclaim his splits…while I scribbled down a note-to-self: remember to pack my splits next time!

Upper Findhorn (Uisge Eireann Uarach)

Great paddle today on the Upper Findhorn with Andy, Fiona, Kenny, Jim, Caz and Paul.

Levels were probably a good medium-high and the put in at Dulsie gave no time at all to get warmed up; perhaps that was the reason for the three swims?!!

Poor Jim got a gash above his eye (stuck back together with Fi’s steri-strips), Caz managed to cling to a rock above the main drop (while I chased her boat down the gorge) and poor Kenny made it all the way to the end, only to trip up on the last wave – almost there matey!

But, epic start aside, it was a grand day out on the water, with Andy and Paul showing the lines on U-Bend and the rest of the river moving reasonably quickly with some nice wee waves, a few playful stoppers and a nice roller-coaster finish at JCB.

So, my new Nomad successfully passed it’s first real test. Handled Dulsie like a breeze, particularly once I removed the seat paddling that I put in last night (you can have to much oadding on your ass), and rolled with ease. Still hanging onto the Diesel 75 for a wee while just in case, but so far so good…

PS – well done to Matt’s BCU 3 Star assessment group who were also on the Upper Findhorn – I heard they all passed!