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Holidays, Maintenance and Training

The last three weeks have been rather full. Some good things, some not so good things and some fantastic things have happened.

After the weekend in Glencoe, I had three days on the river. The first day was canoeing with Phil, Callum and Jess from Ardeonaig, and the next two were helping Pete from Ardgour take some of Trainee Instructors (TIs) down a part of the River Tay in kayaks.

Monday was a wonderful day: calm, eery, a little bit sunny and cool. We set off from Kenmore with the aim of reaching the SCA field below Aberfeldy. Whilst Phil organised the shuttle, Callum, Jess and I warmed up and paddled around a bit. As you can see it was lovely. It took a while with vehicle faff but Phil eventually joined us.

We wasted no time and cracked on with our journey. We picked our way down the river stopping in eddies and bimbling along the flatter sections. We had a lot of fun, and compared notes on different techniques and line choices.

The two most bouncy sections are at the “Chinese Bridge” rapid and the “SCA” rapid. These two sections derive their name from the areas around the rapid. Chinese Bridge starts at a foot bridge out the back of Taymouth Castle. It is an ornate bridge with an Oriental flavour to it, hence Chinese Bridge. If you thought that was imaginative, wait for the next one!

The SCA rapid is named after the field just after it, where the Scottish Canoe Association have agreed an access policy with the farmer for paddlers to park and access the river! I tried to capture some of the magic of moving water, but the pictures have a more artistic twist, rather than informative.

The time with Pete and the TIs was superb. I loved being in a kayak again, and it was great to help out with some more experienced learners. I spent two days with this group on the same section of river, but due to a change in water levels it felt quite different each day. Dave N also managed to enjoy a day on the river.

Thursday was a team day. Some went sailing, some played golf, others simply went and enjoyed a coffee shop, whilst the remaining few went for a bike ride AND a coffee shop visit! It was lovely to just enjoy our area as a team.

The day finished strong as that evening was team fellowship. I had been asked to run a quiz. He he he. I spent quite a bit of time preparing for this and even had some game-show sound effects. Everyone seemed to enjoy it too, always a bonus.

Friday was a safeguarding course for most of it, and then jobs before heading off on holiday.

My holiday was spent in Newcastleton and it was great to go back. The Mussons were housing me for the week and in return I helped Lee with the landing project. The rest of the week was more laidback and less sweaty, seeing various friends.

On Friday, Dave and I went to the Lake District in search of some vertical rock. After some research, on Thursday night, I decided on Borrowdale and the Glaciated Slab area. We started off with an adventurous scramble that had an awkward corner move, before a few climbs on the slab itself.

I led a VDiff and then a tremendous Diff, before becoming unsettled on a Severe. Part way up I dropped a set of nuts, and then it started to rain. I couldn’t cope, so came down, but was pleased with how far I managed to get. A marvelous day in all. Thank you Mr Bentley.

I’d had a wonderful week away and heading home.

On Sunday, after church, I decided to nip up the Tarmachan Ridge. It had some snow on it, and it was a calm clear day. Perfect.

On the way to the car park, my car went “BANG” and lost some power. I drove on to the car park and inspected everywhere I could. Nothing. I wasn’t going to try to fix my car and not spend time on the hill. So I kit up and set off. It was stunning and quiet, a great time to clear my head ready for the week to come.

I had two days of DofE training, a supervisor’s and assessor’s course, learning how to do both. Then a day with Ian us teaching us to use the quad bike! Immense fun.

Thursday we put into practice a theory we are going to explore more at team conference next week. Having a group-led adventure, which leads to questions, which leads to research followed by answers and culminating in sharing our new knowledge.

Phil found out about the Lady of Lawers, an old soothsayer that lived in the old village of Lawers. When he was about to share what he learnt, he went to fetch his visitor and missed her whole story! What a shame.

On Friday I had a day off, so went canoeing with the Rock UK guys on their Tay Exped. It snowed on us, and we saw some fantastic evidence of beaver activity.

That evening I met up with Derek, Anne and Paul at the Dundee Mountain Film Festival. I was able to get there by using the Younger’s car. What a blessing that was. I spent the rest of the weekend splitting kindling, washing cars, and walking up local hills with the Petries. Marvellous.

Another wonderful break and just superb to spend some time them. If you remember my last blog and the walk up through the trees, when Derek returned home he checked his guide book and found this gem… It still makes my chuckle now!

On Monday I went canoeing at Grandtully, the most serious venue I’ve ever been to in a canoe, for a day of training. Tuesday was another canoe training day. Tom Sibbald came to offer some theories and to help us make the most of the space (or lack thereof) in the harbour, should we ever be confined to it. Plus a little bit of multi-craft group management when journeying.

Wednesday was a hill day with Steven Saddler, our technical advisor for ropes and mountain activities. It was an ML refresher and improver kind of a day. Practicing and trying to stress our current skills and acquire some new techniques too.

I was just happy to be out, so learning and being paid was a bonus! I took a few pictures….

The last couple of days have just been cracking on with maintenance. Now though, it is the weekend. I intend to try to find out what is wrong with my car (I suspect the turbo has gone) and I’m going to a joint exercise with the Mountain Rescue team on Sunday. Glad to be able to lie-in and excited for the next few weeks too.

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