Happy New Year Everyone! I hope 2007 is full of fun, love and adventure for you all.
I spent the week leading up to Chirstmas “working from home” at my parents’ house in North Wales.? Arriving back to find plenty of water, I? spent a great day on the Upper and Middle Conwy, followed by the Ogwen – one of my favourite rivers in the UK.? Midweek, I managed to catch up with Sam Ward? who is home for 6 weeks between long stints in Uganda paddling and running the Hairy Lemon (lucky boy). It was pretty entertaining? going early morning boating on the Dee before work and watching him try? to deal with the icy cold temperature and tiny British waves! I, on the other hand, was just happy to be on the water mid-week. And to be back in Wales. Hills, rivers, family and friends… ahhh home, sweet home!
Christmas Eve Eve, most of the water had drained out of the rivers – but Stanley was running at lunchtime.The sun was shining and the company good.? Definitely better than Christmas shopping!
After a nice couple of days celebrating Christmas with family, it was time to head to Fort William! 6 days of climbing, paddling and some healthy faffing.
At first it was very cold and pretty dry:
This year my brother and I? have taken? it upon ourselves to get my Dad back into paddling after almost 4 years out; with a new cag and boat for Chrimbo he hit the rivers of Scotland with us both, Andy, Mark and Hugh. First on our hit list was Spean Gorge on a low-medium flow. Dad ran “Head Banger” like a pro. Then it rained… a lot. We headed off next to the Nevis, where we found? high levels and lots of fun (Dad opted out of this one):
Unfortunately, Andy? split his boat halfway down the river and had to walk back to the car.
Following continuing rainfall overnight, we headed to the Etive in search of something that Dad could join us on again. It was very high, but we got on. Jon ran all of Triple Drop without a problem; Andy, Mark, Hugh and I planned to seal launch in from below the first drop. Unfortunately, Mark took nasty beating in the bottom of the last drop and ended up swimming, losing his week-old paddles, much to the amusement of the on-looking (and filming) local paddler.? After, reuniting people and kit all to one bank, we noted that the river had risen at least a metre since we got on. The rock in the middle of Letterbox (I think it was meant to be) was completely covered. Where I had stood and rescued Mark was well under water and each rapid / drop looked hideous. We decided to call it quits and find something else.
While driving towards the Orchy, we noticed a little burn next to the road which lead down to the Kings House Hotel. What silly fun! Dad was buzzing – he did one of those new fangled “boof” things!! Apparently they called it ski-jumping back in’t day. (Photos coming soon)
Gavin Russell took pictures of us on the Nevis. His and Mark’s pictures can be found here. I am yet to get Hugh’s.
We spent New Years Eve in a pub in Fort William, accompanied by the fine young lady called Emily Wall and her Mum.
January 1st 2007 was spent in a car, driving approximately 550 miles back to Winchester for work on Tuesday.
Thank you to all who helped to make all those cool adventures and awesome fun happen in 2006! Let’s hope 2007 is just a good – if not better!