Friday the 17th September 2010 Dan and Myself headed across to Fort William on the West Coast of Scotland for our very first WWPF (West West Paddle Fest) where Kayakers from all over come to meat in the area of Fort William to paddle some of the surrounding rivers.
Saturday which is the first day of the event is Based on the river Garry.
This was described as a good grade 3 trip and was suitable for all abilities..
Was a great start to the day got to the shinty club where the event started from which was also at the bottom of the stretch we were paddling. Once arrived here and getting our bearings we found out that we can demo any of the boats that where at the event for free... so not missing out on this chance I jumped at it and took one of the new Burn Kayaks... A Medium white water boat but a stable boat.
Dan and myslef got al kitted up ready for the trip to the top but as we looked around we saw a lot of folk wearing their dry suits... as we stood there in our shorts we wondered what we were about to get ourselves into.
Never the Less we got the kayaks along to the buss and loaded up. The Bus took us about 2 miles up the road to the Dam on the river Garry where it dropped us off and we all hopped into our boats and set off.
At the dam there was a fairly powerful rapid enough to give you a wee taster of what the rest of the river had to offer... never the less we set off with some of the guys we had got speaking to on the bus and headed into this rapid to have a wee play and to warm up.
We swiftly moved on to our first decent just 100 meters down stream of the dam. We followed a few experienced guys who had paddled the Garry a few times down this first drop where I got a surprise as to just what I was getting myself into. Down this first drop... To the camera this doesn't look like a big deal but when you are in the boat and you are coming down this and your faced by a huge wall of white... all of a sudden the addrenaline starts to pump....
Down and through the stopper and the bottom... a piece of cake... so we carry on down the next wee stretch faced by a few rocks here and there then forced down the path into a standing wave... Fantastic wave to surf and play on. However the first time down we didn't stick around.
So again we head of down the next stretch over some high rapids then stop to look at this huge drop that lay before you.
Heaps of white water with Rocks sticking up here and there... a tricky bit of water as once you start on this wee stretch of white water your committed to the rollover and a, once again other huge stopper and the bottom... as you paddle down, we try to take the line to the right of the massive boulder in the water which the water is just rolling over but to watch you don't get caught in the stopper... I went down the first time straight into the stopper side ways.. it flipped me... tossed me... and then spat me out. Was lucky to have a few guys close by who helped save me and the Kayak before heading down to the next drop.
Emptied the Kayak shook off the freezing water then jumped back in.... carried on down to the final Hole in this stretch of the river. We paddled down the first 10 meters and paddle hard and quick to get into the eddie just to the left of the river to scout out and line your self up for the next drop into the next series of stopper waves... Head on down there with plenty momentum and crash through the stopper and its fine. Then chance to relax... job done...
First time down was a stomach churner... but the other 1... 2... 3... runs.... just fantastic.. easier each time and each time the sun got brighter and brighter... Turned into a Great day.
Fantastic experience and looking forward to giving the Garry an other shot some time hopefully in the not too distant future!