The premier division slalom race on the the 2014 is to be held in Grandtully on the 8th of March. With the white water course in Nottingham being closed for the year so far my slalom boat had only seen flat water action and with only two weeks till the race I decided to make the long journey to Scotland and train at the race venue.
All while I traveled the rain was coming down heavy and when I had finally arrived the river had risen by a meter making for some interesting white water on the top section and a nice wave train through the middle and bottom sections. There were still a few eddys for some breakouts and there were plenty of gates already in good places so course setting didn't take long.
With five days of paddling I was in for a treat. I found a good spot to dry my kit with a well placed tree protecting my gear while the rain came in bursts.
The river dropped slightly over night making the eddylines more pronounced improving the quality of the upstream gates. It felt so good to be on moving water again in my slalom boat, gripping the flow and guiding my edges through the gates.
On the Saturday there was a river racing event on so after my first session I had a good catch up with a few old faces I hadn't seen for some time. It was go to see the 'Go Kayking' guys again, pushing the kayaking in the right direction. With the race on throughout the day I headed over to the Birks of Aberfeldy, a lovely walk with some fantastic views.
I took the opportunity for a light run back down and had a good rest before taking to the river again in the evening, only getting off as the sun set in the distance. I was so full of energy I could off paddled for hours more!
There was a heavy rain all night, but after an active few days, I slept through without noticing despite only the noise of the rain thrashing against the roof of my car, which was my humble abode of Joice for my mini adventure to Scotland.
By morning the river was in full flow. I have never seen the Grandtully rapids with so much water pounding through. There were big crashing waves all the way through, with many trees and large bits of wood making there way down for a surf. There were no breakouts in sight and with the gate lines on full tension the gates were still being beaten by the waves. I pulled all the gates out to the side to keep them from being damaged and got on for a play.
The river at this level was great fun to paddle but I hope the level drops a bit for the race, giving us some good eddys for upstream gates.
Heading home was quite an interesting journey seeing the Aberfeldy Caravan Park and Campsite engulfed by the flow of the river, and having no choice but to drive through flood the river itself in my Ford Focus... quite nerve wracking to say the least ..