Just when we thought Jack, Victor and the crew had bid their final farewells in 2019, their spirits seemed to have inhabited several members of our hearty team as we paddled the latest installment of the river Teith. More on that later.
Let’s get it straight from the start. Nobody swam today, despite the minefields of hidden rocks waiting to catch us. Some close ones but no swimmers. I volunteered to write the trip report because there was so much material and so many laughs, that I couldn’t resist it. I apologise in advance if I offend anyone. None of the names have been changed to protect the innocent! This was one of the best paddles I have been on with EEKCC and what a fabulous day we had for that paddle. The company made it!
The magnificent 7 (Davy, Jim, Celia, Joan, Andy, Sarah Mary and yours truly) gathered at the ungodly hour (for Andy at least!) of 10:15 in the Callendar carpark. Andy was actually late but blamed Joan’s weak bladder and a stop at the Callendar toilets !!!! Sorry Joan but I thought it was a poor excuse too! Can’t believe he didn’t even wait for you!
We knew it was going to be a busy river when we bumped into (figuratively speaking) 15 members of the Monklands club. After some friendly chat and banter we rushed in first to get to the bridge before they could beat us there. This was Sarah Mary’s first ever river trip after some pool sessions and one session in one of those long, poorly maneuverable boats (think they are called sea kayaks… but I am a bit young to really know what they are for yet!). But you would have thought she was a veteran. That was despite being coached by Andy of course. So well done Sarah Mary
The river was pretty low. We reckoned about 0.24m. I had told Andy my
river APP said 0.64m but then found out that was a different part of the
river and one we were not paddling today. That App has now been deleted
from my phone. Despite the low level it wasn’t too scrapy and we have
At the first bridge we all did a little bit of ferry gliding…if you can call it that on flat water. But it was a great introduction for those not quite used to the river…Jim! And also Davy who was getting his excuses in early…”Oh I am so very rusty as I haven’t paddle for such a long time!”. We didn’t believe a word of it as he casually made his way down the river leading most of the way. We got between the first two bridges and I decided it was deep enough to try a little roll, little knowing that it would stand me in good stead towards the end of the trip. Despite telling Andy that it was quite warm (it was bloody freezing), he didn’t bite and go for a roll himself. Big fearty!
. The little dip was actually quite refreshing as it was getting warmer all the time and I was thankful that Davy had lubricated me with suncream before we set off.
Nola was supposed to join us on this trip but we got a text saying she was poorly. That was a real shame, but on the positive side we thought we wouldn’t need the earplugs this trip to bring the screaming down a few decibels…or so we thought. As we tiptoed our way through the first rock minefield, we suddenly heard foxes screaming. Then we thought, maybe Nola made it after all. But no, it was Celia. It got to a point that when passing Monklands club further downriver, Andy pleaded with her not to embarrass EEKCC and stifle the screaming. We almost made it….Nola we reckon if you come back on a trip with Celia we might have the next Eurovision Song Contest entry for the UK!!! EEKCC’s very own Cheeky Girls! Talking of songs, Andy and Jim tried to sing some really old persons hit from 19 canteen.. John G please get well soon and come back. You are the only true crooner in the club and we miss your river songs dearly…get well soon.
On one of the playspots Jim tried to convince me he had seen a video of rock boofing! Unconvinced, I asked him to demonstrate, and he gladly obliged. To me it just looked like paddling very fast into a rock…but knock yourself out Jim (don’t tell him but if he keeps that up he will knock himself out!). Celia then stepped up to show us some real rock boofing that made Jim’s rock look like a piece of lego!. Annoyed that her tree had been cut down (sorry, sensitive subject for Celia), Celia then claimed that big rock that we are all familiar with where the river splits and you go down the wave train, river left. Classic case of don’t look at the big rock, Celia caught it a cracker. The bow of her boat came right out of the water, she hit the rock, screamed “Andy! Andy, Andy!” (don’t know what she expected Andy to do as he was already passed the rock but never mind!), spun in the air and stayed upright to continue on her way. Oh and yes she screamed!
I should say at this point I was starting to feel like I was in an episode of Still Game as our very own Winston and Isa (aka Jim and Celia) had started to indulge in some light-hearted banter, as Jim advised Celia to “paddle”, “watch that rock”, “no , not that way”, and “paddle, paddle, paddle….paddle, paddle, paddle…paddle, paddle, paddle” – you get the picture. Fair play to Celia, she kept a lid on it until Jim was just out of earshot. I can’t publish exactly what she said but I don’t think he can hold his breath for that long Celia. And his paddle definitely won’t fit there!!!
Throughout all of this our newbie, Sarah Mary, was calmly negotiating everything that was thrown at her, practising graceful pirouettes as she spun her way through some of the rapids. I lost count of the number of times I heard “You Bampot!”. Honestly Sarah Mary, Andy will grow on you if you give him time. Davy all this time was still claiming how rusty he was while paddling backwards down the rapids. Best laugh was when he did actually hit a rock unexpectedly. The look on his face was priceless and he was so close to writing this report.
As we approached the end of the paddle we had one more rapid to go through. It was christened “Joan’s Shelf” after the last paddle when Joan decide to have a wee rest for five minutes on top of the rock shelf at the mouth of the rapid. This time it was Celia’s turn. She missed the chute by a boat’s width but that was enough, and she was firmly stuck. The we heard the familiar call. No not the scream but “paddle, paddle, paddle…paddle paddle, paddle.” Thanks for that Jim, but she was on a rock shelf buddy!! Paddling was not going to help! Celia did manage to get off and stay upright, so well done. All that time Joan had been prowling like a caged tiger waiting for her go. Andy had sacrificed himself earlier, giving us the line in the first place and had then found a simpler route down. That destroyed the wager we all had going in the eddy downstream on how long Joan would get stuck this time. Thanks Andy!
Then it was Torre Falls, a rapid that has claimed many EEKCC members in its time. With some newbies in the team, I was sure the trip report would finally be in the bag. But no. everyone traversed the rapid with ease and no swimmers. Well, almost all with ease. I followed Andy down and not sure what happened. I think I may have taken my mind of what I was doing because I thought I was safe. But then I hit something and over I went. “Swimmer” shouted Joan from above the Falls. But that was soooooo premature! All that practice in the pool paid off as I managed to pull off a roll in the rapid, right in front of Andy who had his GoPro on (I hope!). Watch this space. That was me. Cocky and hyped up right to the get out.
But Sarah Mary and Andy had something planned to bring me back down to earth with a bump…literally. As we all helped get the boats up the hill and then I, out of the goodness of my heart, offered to help Sarah Mary up the bank she told me that she had to go up backwards in her chair and for me to support the handles. “Happy to” I said “if Andy keeps an eye out for me as I will be walking backwards up a hill!”. But the Bampot (Sarah Mary’s term of endearment for you Andy, not mine!) didn’t and, on jelly legs, I went down with Sarah Mary landing on my lap. They all had a great laugh at my expense and I was just glad Andy’s Go Pro was off (I hope).
Apologies for the long-winded report (and that is only part of what went on today). But this was a fantastic paddle with a great group of clubmates and friends who all looked out for each other on the river as usual. The banter was brilliant, and everyone had a great paddle.
Celia, you were a star and I can’t wait for you and Nola to be on the same river together (bring your super strength earplugs for that trip folks!).
Sarah Mary, one of the best Newbie paddles we have seen. Didn’t look like your first river trip and I know you now have the river bug (so glad we got to you before those chaps in the big long boats. You’re way too young for one of those!). Respect!
Jim, you crack us all up, and always supportive (no eddy stealing today though).
Joan, you keep me calm on the river every time I paddle in your company. You never seem to get flustered.
Davy, thanks for keeping us safe and under control as a team (hope I am that “rusty” when I get to you age ).
And Andy, always a pleasure paddling and exchanging barbs with you. But don’t give up the day job as we all hope John G will be back soon and we can hear some proper singing again.
Great paddle. Thanks folks!