Scotland Round 2

It was half term, after a few hard weeks of revising and completing 11 of my 18 exams; myself and some of my closest friends decided to head for the highlands. We were hoping for some water, which meant we could get some of the highlands classics done. We planned to meet at Brookbank Lancaster for 4pm. However this was delayed with the news that one of our closest and greatest paddling friends heading up our way. Guy arrived at the shop at 7pm and we headed for the highlands shortly after with the long 6 or so hour drive ahead of us. We had planned to go to the Etive and camp within the glen if there was water in the area; however on the way up we passed the famous Falls of Folloch and unfortunately it was not running. We were sure that the Etive wasn’t going to be going, so we decided to head straight for the Moriston. With a number of stops for breaks and food we choose at around 1am that we would pull over and set up camp for the night.

We all arose between 6.30 and 7.30 where we were greeted by the midges as soon as we left the tent which made making breakfast very difficult. Once we had breakfast, which was kindly made by Craig Jones, we packed our tents and headed towards the Moriston. We had just over an hour to the Moriston but we had heard that the Leven ran on a compensation flow and it released most days. As it was only 10 minutes out of our way we decided to go and look at it. As we passed over it there looked to be water in it however after a short walk to where the play wave was meant to be, we noticed that there wasn’t any water releasing, so we headed for the Morriston once again. ­­

We arrived at the dam where we meet another friend, Ant Shaw who had been in Scotland for the weekend. It was sunny in the valley and they had just begun to release the dam. We relaxed a little in the sun for the river to rise and we jumped quickly on to get as many laps as possible in before it got busy.

Our first run of the upper was eventful, as for a few members of the group it was their first proper paddling trip to Scotland and also to the Moriston. We had two swims which reminded us that we are all between swims and sadly Guy sprained his ankle. One of the most dramatic runs any of us had been involved in. After we ensured that Guy wasn’t too badly hurt and got him to the road and his van, with the help of the locals, we headed for another two runs of the upper.  After we had made sure Guy was in the least amount of pain possible we headed down to the lower. A few of us who had been up before, decided to have a look at The Falls of Moriston. Only Ewart Finn had ran the drop before, which was on my first trip to Scotland around 2 years ago, and he was the only one to run it again. We all set safety up and waited for him to run the drop. He got a good line at first but the last lip just put him on his edge and his face was extremely close to the opposite wall

The rest of us headed to our boats and went for the chicken shoot down the right. As we didn’t head to the lower during the race I was excited to get back on it and I was the first down the chute, it was as much fun as I remember. After the long walk out we were greeted by the midges again. Some of the group had been sensible and had purchased midge nets before the trip but me, Dan, Ryan and Tom being 18 or under thought that was too sensible until now. Dan, Ryan and Tom just couldn’t cope with them and headed for the closest shop that sold nets. I was the only one without one for the trip my excuse was they don’t eat their own. Once that Guy arrived back and had got changed   we headed back to the middle car park of the upper where we set up camp. We had set camp right next to the river near the chutes before the sticky hole. We camp here every year but it always seems to amaze me. Just the river, the view, and friends make this place amazing and continue to make me come back.

After Tea, Craig and Guy headed for the hospital to check that he had only sprained his ankle. Myself, Dan and Ewart got on for another 3 runs of the upper to avoid been eaten by the midges. Me and Dan stayed on and play at the bottom until it went almost dark at about 11pm.

Day 2 came around and we got up a little later than the first day but it didn’t start any different as we were eaten alive by even more midges. We quickly packed up and ate breakfast, so we could get on and avoid the clouds of midges around us. We were able to get another run of the upper and lower before we headed home.

Hope I will see you at the Wet West Paddle fest in September

Tom Findlay