Stevie J writes…
The sky was that bleak shade of grey that is so common this time of year however there was a promise of some sunshine in the afternoon and I had in my possession a “gumtree special” Kayak, a Pyranha Inazone 230 that has seen a fair bit of action judging by the scrapes and gouges. Recently purchased this is the first river kayak I’ve ever owned, which is slated as a “good all rounder” for moderate grade river running and wave surfing, which sounds bang on for what I want out of a kayak right now.
We met in the dilapidated Riverside Inn car park and with car shuttling formalities organised we were all at the river for around 11:45am. My “new” boat instantly felt quite unstable and tippy and I ended up taking a swim 10 minutes after getting on the water while attempting to ferry glide across the river, incidentally catching a wee fish in my Kayak (not a Pyranha though ) The good thing about this river however is that it is quite narrow and is shallow enough to self-rescue easily. So with that in mind I decided that I was going to push my luck as much as I could on this trip and I was back in the boat within a few minutes and going back and forth across the river without any further mishaps.
We made our way down river over a number of small drops each of varying speeds of flow and size of waves, stopping at most of them to let folks learn and play in the current. Wilson the baw, the newest member of the club was battered and bounced along the way sometimes making his own way down stream and getting stuck in eddys and strainers. It was at one of these drops where we were all playing and practicing where I think I had a bit of a pivotal moment in my kayaking endeavours to date. I have always had a bit of trouble breaking in and out of eddys and basically just controlling the Kayak when doing anything other than traveling in a straight line. With Stuarts instruction to use the paddle in a high brace when edging the Kayak in or out of an eddy it suddenly just clicked. It was like the moment when learning to ride a bike, where you go from being pushed and assisted along with a hand on the seat, to the moment you are let go to find your own balance. It’s a really awesome feeling to have that new confidence in the boat. A confidence somewhat misplaced as I took another swim while trying to surf a wave. In fairness I think I did surf it for about 10 seconds before something caught me out. No fish this time though and an easy swim to the side.
Jim/Joolz looked like they were also getting the hang of the whole break in/out thing and we all pushed on down into a very picturesque part of the river. The big weir was good fun with a fairly relaxed slide down into the water. The Sun did make an appearance, albeit brief it was warm on the skin and was like an added bonus to the experience, the rain also came on quite heavily at one point, falling straight down and silent with no wind and being surrounded by moss covered cliffs, drooping with vines you could almost have been in a tropical rainforest. It really is a beautiful river.
The last leg of the journey was quite uneventful from white water perspective, some bony drops and a final drop into the mouth of the river and the open sea where some of the experienced paddlers took to the waves and surfed.
A brilliant trip, I really enjoyed it and look forward to paddling the Doon again. I’ll maybe bring a fishing rod next time instead of catching them in my boat.