Sunday, 11 May 2014

Packrafting in the Cairngorms - A Wet Weekender...




Cairngorm White Water from david hine on Vimeo.

The weekend promised sunshine and snow melt in the Cairngorms National Park. The sunshine was there, part of the time at least, but the majority of the snow was gone, other than from the higher slopes. So after driving up from Edinburgh on Saturday morning David and I found pretty low water on the River Feshie, where the weekend bagan. But the water wasn't too low to be runnable, so run it we did. David flipped once while surfing a wave, and we both jumped into an inviting plunge pool from the rocks on the river bank. The paddling was fun despite the low volume, and one enjoyable section was repeated several times by each of us.

An angry farmer took exception to us exercising our legal right to camp beside the river Feshie (which is a beautiful and highly recommended place to go and camp, by the way!) I must add there was no crops or farm animals anywhere nearby, unless this man is raising invisible sheep. But rather than get involved in a pointless confrontation, and also because by that time we were planning to seek out a higher volume of flow on the River Spey anyway, we upped-sticks and set-off in the direction of Knockando (where a fun and scenic stretch of class 2 rapids can be found).

In the morning, after a long lay in and in no great hurry, we packed up our camp on the banks of the Spey and walked upriver to inflate and float back down. I've paddled through this section on a couple of previous trips, but on this occasion we took our time to play on waves and explore one of the mid river islands. We practiced wet reentry on a flat stretch of the river, and I flipped while playing on a wave. 

With the Spey behind us, the next objective was a recce along the River Avon (which I've long been curious about). We got in for a float of just of few miles through some fun class two stuff, although I know there to be more serious and sustained rapids at other parts of the river. There is a lot of potential for including this river in a backpacking route, and my crystal ball suggests that may happen in the non-too-distant future.

So it was a fun and worthwhile weekend, all in all. Long may the rivers flow.

Taking a break in the Spey at Knockando.


On the upper Feshie (Picture by David Lintern)


On the upper Feshie (Picture by David Lintern)




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