A Dooking On The Doon, 13th May 2018

John writes again…

Nope, it was not Hallowe’en, but yes, there was a bit of dooking going on in the Doon today! Getting to be a bit of a habit this. Three rivers and three trip reports. Need a few more of my fellow beginner paddlers to get out with me so that I have an ‘evens’ chance of avoiding this next time…please. By no means is this meant to be disrespectful to my fellow beginner paddlers…. probably still be me who takes that first dip. However, on this trip, looking at the list of who was paddling, the safe money (in fact all the money) was on me for the swim!

What a glorious day to be on the Doune. The Magnificent Seven…Andy D, Andrew B, Joan, Stevie J, Davy, Gavin and yours truly…. arrived at the put in at “The Riverside” ready for action. Well all of us except Andy and Joan who said their Sat Nav took them on a little mystery tour. My guess is that because Andy doesn’t like mornings, he had an extra 10 minutes in bed.

The sun was out, and Gavin was quick to point out that I would be sweating like a pig in my dry suit today, although a swim would soon cool me down…confidence-inspiring words from the man in the canoe. The banter had started early. “I just came along to see what you will get up to on this trip John” was Gavin’s second comment. As I drove back from the get-out carpark, I was sure they were all on the wind up as they talked about the chicken run, the weirs and how everyone comes out at this point and at that point. “Don’t worry John” said Andy, with a broad grin. This is an easy river.

When we put in we had a very early lunch as there seemed to be a massive mayfly hatch. Must have swallowed a good few anyway. Thanks goodness that the only Mij on the river was Gavin’s canoe (it was only when I saw the name on the front that I realised that Mij on the forum, is not a real person…doh!). A bit of practice breaking in and out of the eddies, under the tutorage of the two Andys, and then we were off. This must be one of the most beautiful and scenic rivers around. It is a must to get out on for everyone. Plenty to see as we progressed steadily downstream. Gavin looked quite the part in his canoe, although for those of you out with him on the river beware. He is the silent assassin. Got the fright of my life when he suddenly appeared right by my side without so much as a splash. Or maybe it was because I was doing so much splashing that I completely drowned out the tranquillity. Could probably have snuck a jet ski up behind me at the start of the paddle.

It was quite bumpy on a few of the stretches as the water was pretty low. On one run I think all of us got stuck at some point. I beached about 3 or 4 times and it was very tiring trying to wriggle off. Certainly, can’t be precious about your boat on this river in low water! Thanks to Andy for pointing out one of the rock hazards. It was nice of him to sit on top of it while the rest of us went passed. Davy was looking super-chilled and laid back until he decided to go backwards down one of the small rapids. I think he woke up at that point and received a round of applause from Andy.

I hadn’t realised that Andrew was a 4-star kayaking master until his namesake Andy pointed it out. Only twigged after I had tried to follow his line down a couple of choppy bits because he made it look so easy…definitely asking for credentials on my next trip so I can choose who to follow. Our EEKCC Warrior, Joan, was making it all look super easy as usual. I don’t think she broke sweat all day and was always there with a reassuring word. There always seems to be a sense of calmness around Joan when she paddles and for a beginner like me, that is great. Although this trip was completely different to the Tay last month, so I was a bit more relaxed. Stevie, Andy and Andrew stopped to play in every wave, rapid, weir they could get their boats into. It was great to see how to do it properly. I did a little bit of surfing myself…of sorts.

Lunch was in a nice little spot with some amazing trees that were even older than Gavin! It was fun going over a couple of the rapids after lunch and the weir near the end was brilliant. So happy that I hadn’t looked before I went down, because it was a little like the log flume at Blackpool Pleasure Beach (but much smaller of course).

Then it was the home stretch where we went under the Brig O Doon in Alloway, a bridge I had only ever seen from above. Under some other very old bridges…even older than Andy this time. Davy found a football and we had a little messing about before heading to the final descent.

I was beginning to think I had a dry run under my belt…third time lucky. Excuse my language but I was a ‘b*w hair’ from the get-out and maybe a bit too relaxed. Joan and Stevie expertly followed Andrew through the last little hairpin rapid. I thought they all made it look easy, so it must be easy. Nae problem. A big rock had other plans for me. Missed my line, hit the rock (sure it moved), lost my paddle and capsized. I was so impressed with myself as I managed to flip upright …not sure it counts as a roll when you use the rocks, but I will take it. That was short lived as the next rock sent me back under and once again I was in the water. Easier to get to the bank this time compared with the Tay, but Stevie still referred to me as a big seal trying to get out of the water…cheers Stevie, but those rocks were slippy!

Then we were out and carrying the boats back to the car. I must apologise here to Joan who helped me carry my boat up to the grassy bank. I forgot that she was still holding the back of the boat when I got the grass. I pulled hard to get it up the last wee bit and sent Joan butt first into the sand. I can assure you I was not huffing at the thought of this trip report and Joan did take it well.

Great trip with some brilliant banter as usual and I would recommend this river as it is stunning in places. Looking forward to the next one but can we do it in a small pond with static water so that I don’t make it four from four and another trip report please!