LCC Alpine Holiday with Staycation Alternative for 2021
This year we were all set to go to France again. All the planning had been done, restrictions checked and most of us fully jabbed. With the third wave and a month to go we started to look for an insurance option, just in case. We provisionally booked campsites in St David’s, Pembrokeshire, and the Scottish Canoe Association Campsite on the River Tay at Grandtully. With two weeks to go the UK Government decided to add France to the Amber plus list, meaning compulsory isolation for all on return. Fortunately, we had our insurance option, Plan B as travel to France was now totally unrealistic.
Alps Alternative Week 2 Central and Southeast Scotland.
Day 01 River Tummel
After meeting up on the Scottish Canoe Association Campsite on the River Tay at Grandtully the night before we confirmed that the River Tummel was still releasing. There is plenty of information on the SCA website. We drove up to the dam but first left a car at the get out (the large stone arch that marked the HEP power station car park. There were several rafting companies operating so we knew we were in the right place. We had to follow the river guides carefully as none of us had paddled the river before.
Near the Dam at the top, we dropped off our kayaks and carefully parked our car – many of the roads had been recently converted to no stopping zones with frequent ticketing. Once changed we carried our kayaks down through the HEP dam, following some gates and flattered grass made by dragging the rafts. We put on below the dam and warmed up on the first rapid.
The first sections were great – easy grade 2`s leading into a couple of grade 3`s. It was interesting paddling, but we knew there was more to come. After a tough little grade 3 we spied the footbridge, I had clocked this from the drive up. This gave us more rapids and a tough grade 3. There were now lots of people out of kayaks ahead of us. Graham was leading and broke out above the first grade 4. He then paddled down followed by Reece. We all then shot the rapid, a Z shaped channel with breakouts on each of the corners. We took the drops one by one, and all made it safely down the first grade 4.
By the time we paddled on 150m John Ledley and his team had caught us up. We were now on the final drop (small waterfall) -the Linn of Tummel which falls into Lock Faskally. I paddled into the eddy above the right-hand bend and asked if the paddler in front knew the line. He said that he did but probably would not be able to follow it! “Stay on the left of the green shoulder and then let the water bring you around and over the main drop on centre left. Try to avoid going too far right as it is shallow and rocky here.” The message was passed back along our group but some chose to get out and take a look anyway.
One by one we paddled over the falls – Stuart taking the best line on the river left. Unfortunately, I busy still helping with the portaging when most of our group paddled over, so missed many of the photos.
Day 02 River Tay – Grandtully
The plan was to paddle the section from Aberfeldy down to the Grandtully grade 3 rapids and do laps here until we had had enough. Google Earth found a good parking spot by “General Wades bridge” in Aberfeldy. We split up into three groups and set off on our journey. We played and ferry glided on several rapids before Aleksander spotted some “baby chickens” on the rocks. They turned out to be a mother duck with a brood of 5 mallard chicks. Needless to say, Aleksander was reminded of this for the rest of the day.
More grade 2 rapids appeared and were excellent for practise and confidence. These became more numerous the further we ventured on. Elle and Poppy took it in turn to lead sections of the river which was wide and ideal for group development. After about 14km we approached the hotel and houses that marked the top of Grantully Rapids. Numerous slalom poles were suspended across the river, and this marked the double rapids used by the Scottish Canoe Association. We spotted the line down the first and most vigorous drop. This was a right and then left breaking out below. We shot this one by one and Ella marked the boulder at the top that we all needed to miss. Fortunately, Stuart then got out of his boat and stood on this rock to show us the way.
Once down the top rapid we lined up for the second. This could be taken either left or right. On this run we opted for the larger left-hand channel. We then exited under the narrow road bridge and carried up for more goes. When we had had enough, we carried across the road and onto the railway campsite. After hot showers and a late lunch, we fetched the cars.