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Thread: Second Annual Scottish Packraft Roundup, Feshie Gorge

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    Cool Second Annual Scottish Packraft Roundup, Feshie Gorge

    Second Annual Scottish Packraft Roundup


    I went to the first one of these last year and had a great time, so I was looking forward to this year's event. It's organised by Andy Toop of Backcountry.Scot, biker, packrafter and adventurer supreme. This year it was at Lagganlia outdoor centre, near Aviemore.

    So after getting my breath back from doing the Coast to Coast cycle ride the weekend before, I headed for the hills.


    The Cairngorms.




    Feshiebridge





    I arrived in the early evening and found the camping huts, then set off to find the others. I didn't have far to go before I stumbled across Andy's giant starfish gazebo tent - which was to be the hub for all our activities. There, I had a couple of beers and caught up with some old and new faces.


    Packrafts, packrafts everywhere...





    The Programme.





    Starfish Enterprise.






    Aerial shots courtesy of Nigel's drone.



    Giant spider web - what was in that beer?





    Next morning, I found I had signed up for the Whitewater FUNdamentals course (his emphasis!). We brought our pre-inflated packrafts along, as they made good seats, then sat around while instructors Mike and Jess, had a look at our equipment.


    My new self bailing boat. (This doesn't mean it's got automatic bilge pumps, it just means it's got holes in the floor.)






    A bit of throwbag tossing ensued, followed by a walk down to the river (the Feshie Gorge) to examine water features.





    As well as examining the rapids, we got a chance to observe some tubers coming down.





    Into the narrows.





    Tube exit.





    Back to the starfish for lunch.







    Then it was drysuits and tin hats on, and we carried our boats down to the river. It was a lovely warm day, so we were boiled in the bag in those drysuits by the time we got there.









    Rapids from the bridge.





    Down below the Feshie Bridge we assembled under a tree.




    We had split into two groups.

    Jess giving instructions to our group.








    And then it was into the water.




    But minus our boats! We spent quite a while swimming first, learning defensive and aggressive swimming techniques, plus the dying kipper approach. Then swimming down the rapids to try these out. Quite tiring, but great fun.

    Swimming down the rapids. (On purpose!)












    Pics courtesy Nigel.


    Unfortunately I had failed to zip up my drysuit correctly, so now it was just a suit. Luckily it was a hot day and the water was fairly warm, so it was actually quite refreshing. However, my legs were rapidly filling up with water, so I had to scramble ashore, climb out of the suit, empty it, and get back in.

    Eventually, Jess allowed us to take our boats on the water. Then immediately made us capsize them and fall out again. So we could learn how to climb back in. That kept us (and various onlooking sunbathers on the rocks) entertained for a while. Then she tried to tip us out, while we used low and high braces to prevent this (occasionally successfully).

    After which, we got to play in stoppers. And then to capsize again in the rapids, attempting to recover our boats, our paddles and ourselves afterwards.

    Eventually, though, we got to shoot the rapids. Twice. This was excellent fun. Not too many people fell out, and most of us hit the line we were aiming for, or one nearby. Water levels were relatively low, but the flow was still quite fast, and the made it fairly technical (i.e. rock dodging required).

    After this, well satisfied, we staggered back to the campsite, carrying our boats and in my case, a few extra gallons of water inside my drysuit (still didn't quite get that zip right!).

    No pictures from me of all that. I was too busy and it was too wet. But Andy and his friend were swimming alongside and on the rocks, with big wateproof cameras, so hopefully I'll get to see some pictures soon.


    Tim Clark's video of the rapids:
    https://www.facebook.com/tim.clark.7...289786502/?t=0



    Back at the camping hut, drying the gear.





    That evening we had a barbecue, and a talk by David Lintern on his crossing of Scotland from Ardnamurchan to to the North Sea, by foot and packraft, taking in all 9 peaks over 4,000 ft. And then a couple of videos of epic Alaskan and Australian packraft adventures.


    Packrafts make useful beer coolers.





    Next day, me and a couple of the guys decided to have a leisurely paddle down the Spey, from Loch Insh to Aviemore.


    Milling around.





    Sean had a 60 mile cycle to get back to Keith so he set off.

    His bike rig.








    An osprey.





    Some of the others on a first aid course.





    Us launching.











    Lawrence of Lagganlia.





    Heading down the Spey.




    Nigel (Veletron).





    Me.




    Me again.





    A real osprey.




    The river was lowish, but passable.








    Cows ahead.




    Cooling down.















    Approaching Aviemore.





    Destination reached.








    After a pint or two, and an ice cream, we caught a taxi for ourselves and our boats, back to the camp site.

    And that's it. An excellent weekend. Thanks to Andy for organising it, Jess and Mike for the course, and everyone else for making it such a fantastic event.

    Gordon

    Last edited by Crow; 29th-May-2018 at 03:19 PM.

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    Great adventure, good to see a variation on the paddling theme.
    I liked the cycle trailer setup.

    Nick

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    That looks excellent, and a great place for the Whitewater safety stuff.

    Doubt I'd get a 16' Prospector down that bit, so you win, on this occasion.

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    looks like a really good event. and that swimming in rapids stuff sounds like fun!

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    Great blog, and you really had the weather for it.
    As well as examining the rapids, we got a chance to observe some tubers coming down.
    That conjured up a rather strange image in my mind, until I scrolled down and saw the picture...
    Not in Oxford any more...

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    Sorry I missed it now Gordon.
    A great place for packrafting and a well run event by Andy again.
    I was working in Upper Glen Nevis , fighting off thousands of tourists. No rain here for about five weeks so certainly no packrafting here ☀️


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    Thanks. Enjoyed that. Have been pondering a packraft for many a time. Hmmm...

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    Looks like a cracking event. Well blogged sir.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Nick View Post
    Great adventure, good to see a variation on the paddling theme.
    I liked the cycle trailer setup.

    Nick
    Cheers, Nick.

    Yes I liked it too.

    He pedalled off with that helmet balanced on the back though. Didn't get far.

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    Great blogging Gordon, and grand pics (added to my library!) T'was a good weekend, keep me in the loop if requiring company for future packraft trips, I shall do likewise.


    Nigel

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    That looks excellent, and a great place for the Whitewater safety stuff.
    I would never have done it on my own.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Doubt I'd get a 16' Prospector down that bit, so you win, on this occasion.
    It would be fun to watch you try though.

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    Looked a good course.....Mrs Patterdale asked me why I don’t have one in the campervan....have always tried to avoid mixing married time with canoes or bikes but gift horse, mouth etc....nice blog as usual btw
    A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope - Epictetus

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patterdale Paddler View Post
    Looked a good course.....Mrs Patterdale asked me why I donít have one in the campervan....have always tried to avoid mixing married time with canoes or bikes but gift horse, mouth etc....nice blog as usual btw
    Would be handy for your ditching. Save a lot of effort...

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    Wee video of the event and Sunday paddle http://youtu.be/xp6sQjWTZ7k

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    Quote Originally Posted by veletron View Post
    Wee video of the event and Sunday paddle http://youtu.be/xp6sQjWTZ7k


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    Quote Originally Posted by lowlander View Post
    looks like a really good event. and that swimming in rapids stuff sounds like fun!

    It was!

    Makes you much more confident in a boat when you know you can survive if/when you fall out.

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    Looks like a great weekend. And if you are going to go deliberately swimming in a river in Scotland it was the best weather for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maryinoxford View Post
    Great blog, and you really had the weather for it.

    That conjured up a rather strange image in my mind, until I scrolled down and saw the picture...
    That was deliberate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Malky View Post
    Sorry I missed it now Gordon.
    A great place for packrafting and a well run event by Andy again.
    I was working in Upper Glen Nevis , fighting off thousands of tourists. No rain here for about five weeks so certainly no packrafting here ☀️


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    Shame you couldn't make it.

    Next year ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bearbait View Post
    Thanks. Enjoyed that. Have been pondering a packraft for many a time. Hmmm...
    Go for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al. View Post
    Looks like a cracking event. Well blogged sir.
    Cheers Alan.

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    Couple more pics of the day. Courtesy Andy Toop.






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    Love the multi-coloured woodland march!
    Not in Oxford any more...

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    Some more pics of the event, courtesy of Neil Irwin, the swimming photographer.































































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    Some of those action images are fantastic!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    Looks like a great weekend. And if you are going to go deliberately swimming in a river in Scotland it was the best weather for it.
    The swimming was half the fun.

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    Great to meet you up there. Love the photos.

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    Thanks!

    Always good to hear from another packrafter.

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