Updated: May 20, 2022
John and Yan have completed their first practice exercise together. Descending the UKs fastest flowing river from its highest source Creag Meagaid.
Day one started with a 15 mile hike from the banks of Loch Laggan. They climbed up into the clouds and summited Creag Meagaidh and two other Munros. On the tops they found the snow that will eventually melt and trickle into Loch Spey to the North. The boys followed the valley down to where the river was paddleable and started down stream in their fully loaded Canadian canoe. The river here was extremely shallow and narrow at parts, with areas where the canoe had to be carried round obstacles. The night was spent under a bridge near Newtonmore.
Day two saw them complete a gruelling 44 mile paddle down a relatively slow moving Spey to finish at a beautiful spot, on a bend upstream from Lettoch. Due to six weeks of very little rain the river was low, testing their awareness in avoiding jutting boulders and fallen trees.
Day three began and the river was beginning to pick up. They covered 43 miles to the mouth at Kingston, on the North Sea, enjoying some fast sections and exciting rapids. The only capsize happened at a particularly violent shoot, soon after the joining of the Avon and the Spey. The laden canoe, being too heavy was swamped in the waves. Due to careful preparations and drills, no kit was lost.
This exercise was extremely valuable in not only refining skills, but also in learning how to work together. The canoe used is similar to those that will be used for the Amazon expedition and the lads had fun coming up with ideas and tweaks to create the ideal set up.