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Thread: Four Glorious Days on the Spey

  1. #1
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    Default Four Glorious Days on the Spey

    Ben had booked this course some months in advance. His father, Rob, had just hit sixty and this was to be part of the celebration. The weather in the weeks before was not promising. In fact I had parked next to another canoeist on the M74, I was on my way to north to Loch Insh and he was heading south. The winds had been so strong he hadn't taken his canoe out once during the previous week. Now though the forecast was good with light winds and sunshine.



    The team assembled on Loch Insh. The boats are very heavily laden (I was to find out why).



    A quick paddle across the Loch to the start of the next section of the Spey.



    The early part is shallow and at times narrows and winds through trees. Stefan and Steve ended up taking a swimming when they broadsided and tripped over a submerged and hidden stump. If they had been kneeling they might have got away with it but...... The relatively harmless swim however wrote off Stefan's camera. He had a waterproof case for it but after a short while had tired of closing it back up after each photo.



    Dillie takes up her customary position.



    The previous days had put a big dump of snow on the Cairngorms and had given some good late season skiing. For us it meant the river level, already good, would go up slightly in the strong sunshine.



    The 'detritus of failure' or at least that is how Steve described the drying out of kit at our lunch spot.



    The higher banks were honeycombed with Sand Martin nests.



    Chilling ably led by Dillie.



    As ever I try to camp on the wilder islands. There is plenty of flat spots and masses of drift and dead wood. The guys picked up fishing licences for two spots on the Spey (around 40 per person).



    There was no luck on any of the attempts but it was pretty mellow.



    These guys were not roughing it and the drink and food was to match. They had told me that they would do the catering. Beer was there to quench the thirst of first arriving in camp.



    Gin and tonic for a touch of class.





    And you couldn't have steak without some red wine. I must admit it was a mistake of mine that I brought out a bottle of Aberlour (well you got to have a Speyside malt) on the second evening. This must be the slowest getting going group, in the mornings, that I have worked with.





    A nice bit of WW action at the Washing Machine (Blacksboat Rapid). A nice grade 2 at this level.



    The start of the lead into Knockando









    We took a relatively easy line down through and although fast it went well. It is long but again a grade 2 at this level.



    This is all prime fishing territory and the bank is dotted with fishing chalets and huts, the bank often manicured to a lawn like state. Without fail all the gillies and fisher folk were courteous. It pays for everyone to get along.





    The rapids were now getting longer and wider but with only the occasional rock it was a case of not taking on to big a wave.



    Dillie was very cool about the whole thing (as ever) but on the bigger waves would draw her paws into the boat so as not to get them wet.



    We had a long stop at Aberlour for another boat of fishing. The rules were stringent with after every cast the angler has to take a number of steps downstream before casting again. Then at the end of the section you could walk back up the bank to start at the top again. Stefan ignored this by fishing up the beats and soon had a local official (in the nicest way) point out his error at length.



    We were late into our last campsite near Forres.





    It is a delightful place at this time of year.



    The guys had brought along their own filtration system so could take water straight from the river.





    Although fires were quickly lit with fire lighters Steve wanted to see the alternative of using fire steel, birch bark and feather sticks. Dillie has seen it all before.



    Launching the next morning a gillie and client were working the launch area. There were no hassles and gillie had a great chat with us.



    Earth pillars and the great scenery continues.



    In a couple of places the wave trains get a little larger.









    All were up for a bit of fun. It was the last day and the sun was out so the biggest waves were being sought out. With airbags and gear lashed down Steve and Stefan managed to get the canoe into the eddy still upright.



    The last couple of miles to the sea are a delight and on this occasion the channels were clear of tree debris. The channel changes year on year as the river drops its load of rock and wood.



    Trip end at Spey Bay. Four top days with great company. Thanks Ben, Rob, Steve and Stefan.

    I'll be back there in October.
    Last edited by RayGoodwin; 12th-June-2012 at 02:18 PM. Reason: sort photo plus additional photo
    www.RayGoodwin.com

    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

  2. #2
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    Looks great. So whilst we were all "enjoying" the rain down here, you had a perfect few days in the sun...not jealous at all!!!
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

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    Brilliant !! Whats the flag on the tripper ?

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    Looks great fun. Thanks!

    Now I wish to God I'd joined those men when they were set ashore, but I chose a wild and a reckless life serving under Captain Moore.

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    Looks like a fantastic trip with lots of fun being had by all.
    ​Change is inevitable; progress is optional.

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    Cracking Blog
    Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything....................

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    Excellent stuff!

    That looked like a shedload of fun.

    There's a Bluebird in my heart

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    Wow, great blogg Ray and some really good photos. Looks like you all had a really good time. Wish there had been that much water when SunburyAndy and I paddled it.
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


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    great pictures of a beautiful trip. looks like you had a wonderful time

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    Nice one, thanks!

    Pav
    There's madness to my method.

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    Great action shots there

    Were midges an issue at all? I may be reviewing my no Scotland between May and October policy....
    Last edited by Davy 90; 12th-June-2012 at 09:00 PM.

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    Nice one.

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    Beautiful photos, beautiful knees, but you shouldn't be showing so much knee on the flats. Maybe gear was in the way? Loosen up those hamstrings so you can paddle with your legs extended and your knees splayed against the gunwales. When your legs are drawn up with your knees at the level of your pects, that's an unstable position.

    Rant over.

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    That looked like way too much fun. Wish I were there.

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    you certainly timed it well with the weather! it was quite an amazing period: snow on the hills, burns in spate and clear blue skies. almost alpine (normally when everything's in spate it means it's raining...) well done chaps! incidentally,i think i may have bumped into you when i collected my car at the put-in by loch insh?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corsican Dave View Post
    i think i may have bumped into you when i collected my car at the put-in by loch insh?
    We launched on the 21st May and were back there on the 24th. Does that fit?

    Ray
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezwater View Post
    you shouldn't be showing so much knee on the flats. Maybe gear was in the way? Loosen up those hamstrings so you can paddle with your legs extended and your knees splayed against the gunwales. When your legs are drawn up with your knees at the level of your pects, that's an unstable position.
    Totally agree with you. However the boats were very full, the guys were out for a good time and had a lot of gear hence a premium on room. I encouraged them to kneel in anything a little rougher but in fairness to them two were novices and one had limited experience and knees were just not used to the wear and tear: being solo I knelt for the vast majority of the paddling. Anyway this was why I was hired to get them down the river safely (and with fun). They had originally thought of doing it themselves but others at home urged them to do otherwise.

    The guys were great company and it was a pleasure getting them down the river.

    Ray
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    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayGoodwin View Post
    These guys were not roughing it and the drink and food was to match. They had told me that they would do the catering. Beer was there to quench the thirst of first arriving in camp.
    No kidding! I love the contrast between this blog and the trip reports I come across for the Adirondacks....



    That photo (source) was apparently taken at during a 7 day, 185 miles crossing of the Adirondacks: the other end of the spectrum

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davy 90 View Post
    Great action shots there

    Were midges an issue at all? I may be reviewing my no Scotland between May and October policy....
    No midges at all. May is generally good but it helped having cold nights to keep the wee beasties down.

    Greg: Vive la difference. I do plenty of fast or lightweight trips for myself. it was really delightful to travel with this lot and their approach to it all, as you say it is one end of the spectrum.

    Ray
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    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus2 View Post
    Brilliant !! Whats the flag on the tripper ?
    There are two stickers on the tripper. The black one with white cross signifies The Lizard Point, from when it had been used there by the previous owner. The other one........well I am afraid you will have to wait a while for the answer to that, since the owner is away at present. Regards Shortied

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    That left hander looks good in the background of the last shot.

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    Great selection of pics Ray for an everlasting memory. Thanks for that, you did us proud!

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    @ shortied,I thought they were St.Pirran flags,nice one

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus2 View Post
    @ shortied,I thought they were St.Pirran flags,nice one
    That owner used to live near there. He got the flag after paddling from Mullion Cove to Poldhu Cove in high seas. The high prow and gunwhale makes for dry paddling even in the surf.

  25. #25
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    Nice area,used to fish for Bass there a lot

  26. #26
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    Great blog, great trip, great photos. I would love to do something like that, not had the chance yet. Some of those rapids look great fun but also a bit scary - more serious than anything Ive been down!

    Time is a problem for me, but I would really really love to do some kind of trip like that, over a few days - brilliant stuff.

  27. #27

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    [QUOTE=PepsiMax;408905]Great blog, great trip, great photos. I would love to do something like that, not had the chance yet. Some of those rapids look great fun but also a bit scary - more serious than anything Ive been down!

    Time is a problem for me, but I would really really love to do some kind of trip like that, over a few days - brilliant stuff.[/QUOTE
    Hi Pepsimax. My son kindly arranged the whole thing with Ray, based on his knowledge of our 'mixed' abilities and my health related issues. He did a superb job of choosing Ray, who's amicable manner but positive leadership and canoeing/bushcamping skills kept us all safe and sound, while allowing us to have fun and enjoy it. The natural pace set by covering that distance over 4 days still left time to set up and break camp each day, despite our condition some mornings, do a bit of fishing in what must be the top spot for salmon fishing in the UK, and stay within easy reach of roads should it ever be necessary, which it thankfully wasnt.
    Having a paid guide isn't as expensive as it sounds when spread between a few mates, and when your instructor keep you safe from yourself. Remember - Life is not measured by the breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.

  28. #28
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    Great trip nice blog and great pictures thanks for sharing

    Cheers
    KJ
    ".a man is part of his canoe and therefore part of all it knows.
    The instant he dips a paddle he flows as it flows." - Sigurd Olson, The Singing Wilderness.

  29. #29
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    Great looking trip. Particularly liking the wave train pics, wet but fun!
    Must do this some day, soon.

  30. #30
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    Nice one great pictures and nice write up
    shows it was good i actually read it all
    and that says a lot for me
    thanks for sharing
    cragger
    People keep telling me im in my second childhood I never left my first

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    Looks good fun, That Tripper is huge!

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayGoodwin View Post




    Although fires were quickly lit with fire lighters Steve wanted to see the alternative of using fire steel, birch bark and feather sticks. Dillie has seen it all before.

    What? No Fire Bow and drill? Really enjoyed reading that blogg. Some good photography too. Thanks for postIng.
    Regards,
    Stravaiger.
    Everyone must believe in something. I believe I will go Canoeing. H. D. Thoreau.


    "Waste of time reasoning with the morally demented"

  33. #33
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    Excellent blog with photos to match and even some of the bouncy stuff too.
    May the gentleness of morning, greet your silent passage through endless waters...

    May all your winds be gentle. And for ww - May it rain the night before.

  34. #34
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    Looks like a trip to remember and some fantastic moments captured on camera.

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    Wow great trip and photos to match.

    Ray I am very envious! you sure had better weather and water conditions to match than our adventure down the Spey a couple of months ago, but hey thats the luck of the draw and weve been more than blessed on our previous trips up north.

    Well done guys, I might take you up on a guided trip sometime Ray?!

    Cheers CLB

    ps we will be back to finish !

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