Our decision to give Corsica a try over Easter paid off massively. Despite the unseasonal weather, water levels were good and we were not short of great rivers to paddle on the ‘Isle of beauty’.
The over night ferry from Toulon drops you off at Bastia feeling fresh after an exhausting drive from Calais to the Côte d’Azur. It is an ideal way to arrive in Corsica as you can get straight on with the boating.
"Rain that night brought up the rivers and we blasted on down the Middle Asco"
We chose to stay at Camping Ernella (on the N200) due to its location and reputation when paddling Corsica and it proved to have very hospitable owners and delicious locally sourced food.
We were excited to get going and with the Tavignano Gorges section just 100 metres from our tents, it was a sensible option. Once the dam was negotiated you have a brilliant, large volume section of river to play on and as good a warm up as you need. Rain that night brought up the rivers and we blasted on down the Middle Asco. It had enough push to keep us on our toes and was a truly great stretch at the levels provided.
The Calasima runs directly from the largest mountain on the island, Monte Cinto, and it is a steep creeking classic. The rain from the previous night had kept it running. After a short stretch from the put in we reached the brilliant bedrock rapids and drops, and it keeps going until you meet the Golo. This was a full day out, but one that is highly recommended, especially as the drive up the Golo valley is spectacular.A chilled day on the Lower Vecchio was all we had time for after we spent hours waiting for cars to be mended in nearby Corte. This town is well worth a visit with decent Corsican food on offer and a spectacular backdrop. The lower Vecchio is still an awesome run despite being one of the easier sections we paddled.
"The Calasima runs directly from the largest mountain on the island, Monte Cinto, and it is a steep creeking classic"
We almost got onto the middle Vecchio at 4 pm the day the cars broke down. What a shocking idea that would have been! A night on the side of the river would have probably followed. The middle Vecchio was full of siphons and undercuts but it was a seriously good day out. It was running at around 1.75 the day we got on and it deserves its status as one of Corsica’s classics. Long rapids with committing moves, plenty to look at and not much room for error were followed one after another. It had so much to give – just have your wits about you. The Dropzone and Bob Mckee’s Force OC1 leant themselves perfectly to this calibre of river.
The most congested day of our trip was on the Upper Asco. It seemed everyone else in Corsica was on this river. The first gorge arrives and there must have been 25 people stood together looking at the first drop. I guess more water meant people weren’t quite as keen to pile off. It starts as a boulder garden, runs into a cool gorge though with 2 nice drops needing a boof to get you through cleanly, then follows down to the take out as a boulder garden. Quality stuff.
"Long rapids with committing moves, plenty to look at and not much room for error"
There were a few bold statements banded around that Corsica might be the best place we had paddled in Europe and I would have to agree. Even after a week it, just had more and more to offer. Another week or so followed; stay tuned for Tom Findlay’s take on this ‘small’ Mediterranean isle.