A week of canyoning in Scotland, what could be better? Honestly, not much!
A small group of us set off towards Scotland, car boots packed with gear and spirits high with sunshine blazing down upon us. This was certainly the start we wanted on a trip like this, great weather and great company.
Day one - In at the deep end with a descent down Drover Falls. What a fantastic canyon this is! The week before our arrival a storm had ripped through so checking of all the fixed gear as we descended was essential but most was still absolutely fine. There is a great little practice are at the top of the falls to get everyones head in the game before descending down to the main waterfall pitch at around 50m high. The flow was good and very manageable, the group all had a great day out for day one.
Day two - Off to Dollar we go. Over night the rain came down, not overly heavy but steady so we weren't sure if today was going to be a wash out. We got up, packed up the vehicles and headed for Dollar. We arrive, kit up and begin the walk in hearing the water thundering in the distance, everyone wondering if they were about to be disappointed with a walk back to the cars. We crossed the bridge by the entry point looked down and saw moderate flow down the canyon with some interesting looking hydraulics in the first couple of pools. We were here, the canyon was beckoning and before we knew it we were stood by the first jump ready to go. Down we went, pool by pool, stage by stage, not letting the group spread out to much as we went. Mark, the trips resident action man made good headway guiding the group down feeding back information on each feature to the people behind him. We reach the narrowing section, rapid white water down a long slide faces us. The question in our heads was how do we do this, rope and slide, slide or find a way round. We decided to send Mark down on a short line first, popping off the rope at the end followed by a strong swim out to the shallows. the rest of the group followed and then I went last, walking down the main of the slide and jumping in at the exit. We are now entering the pitch above the main drop, rapid pushy water and a huge drop await us. Some inventive rope work and a bit of technical group management found us at the head of the large waterfall pitch. This pitch is located at the end of a small traverse and actually a very pleasant experience, limited hydraulics at the base and a short swim to the shallows where we regrouped. A simple few pitches to the bottom of the canyon and an easy walk out. What a fantastic day!
Day Three - Falls of Bruar today, this was one the whole group have been looking forward to. We made our way here for lunch, taking our time. The wether had been favourable over night so the conditions that awaited us were ideal. We got changed, kitted up and started the walk in, stopping at the first bridge to check out the flow, it's looking great! The group continue to the top of the falls and enter the canyon under the upper bridge. We make our way down pool by pool, regrouping at each. The main thing coming out of everyones mouth is how much cooler the water was vs the previous days canyons. We soon find ourselves at the top of the main waterfall pitch, I traverse round and rig the main drop. The access to the hardware isn't exactly the easiest but with some thought was doable. One by one the group traverse round and drop the main pitch, huge smiles on everyones faces as they do so. A bit of gorge walking was next up which takes you to the next jump / slide. We spend quite a bit of time here having some photos taken and of course, Mark being Mark had to find the highest spot he could to take off from for the jump. The lower falls were waiting for us, so we started to make out way down, lots of little jumps and slides and a couple of small abseils were in order here. Great fun was had by all, the atmosphere and scenery in this part of the canyon is incredible. Another amazing day for everyone.
Day Four - The rain came down and came down solidly for around 17 hours. We were hoping to get a trip down Laggan today. We drove to the parking, put some hiking boots and waterproofs on and headed to the water level indicator area. Even from the road you could hear the thundering water tearing down the canyon. What we saw when we popped over the raise to the viewing area was turbulent white water and a cray amount of flow pummeling the base of the final fall. A definite no go for today, gutted.
Day Five - The plan was to head down Inchree today, the forecast was more rain overnight so we weren't sure if today was going to be a wash out as well. The wether held off over night and in the morning a light drizzle began so we jumped in the cars and made our way to the parking. We parked up, put on our hiking boots again and headed up to the water level indicator viewing spot. Wow, a lot of water was coming down, however the level was within acceptable limits so back to the cars we went to kit up. We walked up to the top of the falls and made our way into the canyon. We found it to be slippery and the water was fast flowing so kept ourselves around the edge most of the time. We were unable to do the big slide due to the volume of water but still had a fantastic time jumping in and navigating our way round the white water sections. Despite not being able to drop the canyon in full everyone had a great time none the less.
Day Six - Our final day, sadness fills everyone's hearts but another canyon awaits with open arms. Finlas Gorge on paper looked like a nice easy final canyon for the trip to end on. The water level was moderate to high so we avoided the first falls as the anchors are non existent and the water was way to pushy. The group dropped in under the road bride on a 18m abseil line, fast flowing water soon forced you down the canyon into the next section where it opens out a bit and allowed everyone to regroup. Some gorge walking, sliding and small jumps were found along the way. One slide was particularly tricky due to a wedged tree under the water right the way across the whole exit pool. You couldn't see it but if you didn't land just right you got trapped up against it, not ideal. We got to an area about half way down where a waterfall from above was coming down and a small slide and jump that could be done over and over were situated. We spent some time here enjoying the amazing atmosphere and scenery surrounding us. This gorge is truly stunning when your in it, Jurassic park like. We made our way down the canyon further and overcame a number of unique challenges along the way, mainly entrapment issues caused by flawed trees and debris. One section was very nice towards the end where you could just lay back, relax and enjoy being slowly drifted down the canyon. We reach the exit, look back at what we had just done and then made our way back to the cars. Another incredible day even if it was more technical than initially planned.
This leaves us at the end of our trip. Everyone full of amazing memories and experiences, the next trip is already in the calendar. Massive shout out to Keith, Mark, Hannah, Adam and Doug for being an awesome team on this trip!