Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Quite the day out

A few of us decided to go out for a paddle on Saturday which turned into a pretty eventful day which I feel should be recorded for posterity. It was such an eventful day that I’ll probably forget some of the events but I will try to remember the best ones.

We set off from Glasgow in the pissing rain with the intention of paddling the Ducharay water but as we got nearer and it kept raining and the roads were flooding we decided it’d be too high so changed our plans to go and paddle the Monachyle burn. Upon arrival we discovered that it was humping and flowing largely through a veritable arboretum so we ran away. The plan now changed to an intention to paddle the water of Ruchil. We got there to find it looked huge but probably paddleable so began heading up the Glen. The road was however covered with patches of thick ice with deep grooves cut into them where water had been flowing. This proved unfortunate as Ben got the wheels of his car stuck in the channels leading to him needing to be pushed and towed out. At this point we gave up ad decided to go and do the Knaik instead. (Oh, in between the Monochyle burn and the Ruchil the boats all fell off Ben’s roof).

The Knaik was also at a level which would have made Noah head off to B&Q in search off Gofer wood to construct an ark but we felt it was worth a shot. We were forced to abandon this plan by a large puddle which made shuttling impossible. Having more or less exhausted any other rivers in the Central Scotland section of the guidebook we went to the Allan Water which I am reliably informed never gets too big. We got on, paddled down to the first weir and got out to inspect. It looked munching but runnable. Chris, Mark and I ran it first and got on fine. Around the corner was apparently ‘nothing’, which is entirely accurate if ‘nothing’ is the new word for ‘big hole’. To my horror I spotted a group of baby seals getting worked in the hole so without a second thought for my own safety I threw myself into the midst of this churning maelstrom and began hurling the poor creatures from the hole to freedom. Chris joined me in this effort and together we saved them all. We were both forced to swim and I remained in the hole for a while longer while out of my boat and checked the river bed in detail for any Seal pups we had missed. Chris and I lost a boat each and I lost my paddles but it was worth it to save those adorable little creatures. Some would say we were heroes that day but I’d like to think that any other decent, seal loving person would have done the same thing.

Happy in the knowledge that the seal pups were safe Chris walked back up to his car and drove down to the bottom of the river in the hope of catching our kit while I walked the rest of the river to see if any had been caught up. The rest of the group paddled on. Further on down the run the river split into two channels where the flood water ran across a wooded field. The main channel was nice and clear with no trees, while the new channel was full of trees, Sean chose to paddle through the trees. This resulted in him swimming, his boat getting pinned and him being forced against a branch clinging on with his head just above water. Ben ran to his aid and the two of them shared an embrace so tender and poignant that it made the Lassie films look callous and unemotional, before Sean and his boat were pulled to safety.

Meanwhile at the get out, the police had taken an interest in goings on and had come over to have a chat with Chris, Harry and Gregor. Mid way through his description of the lost kit Chris spotted my boat floating past, dived into the river on live bait and began swimming after it but ran out of rope and the boat ran away, he was then pulled back into the bank where he continued his interview.

Due to the fact that the river was flowing so fast and eddies were few and far between those left on the river were having to get out and scout quite a long way ahead to find the next eddy. It was during one of these scouting trips that Ezra’s boat and paddles slid into the river and floated away never to be seen again (except by the sizeable crowd next to the weir in Bridge of Allan who seemed quite entertained by events). It is important to note that no one at all finds this funny.

That night I spent the evening trying to impress girls with tales of my heroic seal rescuing. It did not work.