New videos in the pipeline

I’ve got a big backlog of video to edit and put up, but at least I’m making a bit of progress at the moment. First up, Swaledale Outdoor Club’s publicity officer, Sarah Bridge, was after short clips for part of a club publicity video. With 250 hours or so of raw footage to sift through (even though it’s all indexed, so I know what not to look at…) it’s taken longer than it would to prepare footage for a single-trip video. I managed to get a sea kayaking trip to the Farnes down to 27 seconds, but that’s not really worth watching on it’s own (I’ll try to do a slightly longer and more watchable version later), but the remit to produce 20 seconds of whitewater on ‘local’ rivers has resulted in a draft of just over two minutes. Some of these clips will hopefully make it into the final club video, and a later version will probably make up into a similar type of ‘what the club offers’ video for just Canoe Section (still needs more work) but, for what it’s worth, here’s the draft so far …

Meanwhile, watch this space as I’m in the final throes of doing several videos – I’ll add links to the posts as they are added. First, Whitsundale Beck April 14th 2013; then Oughtershaw Beck, May 18th with the Upper Wharfe; still to come, the River Garry from our Scottish Easter trip (no titles, not sure about the music…) and an Etive video from our November Glenmore Lodge trip (definitely needs different music, tighter cutting, and a few more clips so it doesn’t look as though Mary was the only competent paddler, which is how is has been edited so far:). As always, the reports go under the dates of the trips concerned. There’s still more footage from two or three Scottish trips, a “ditches” compilation and possibly some older (720×576 TV resolution) videos that need to see the light of day (particularly the Lofoten footage). Lots of catching up ! I also have video of 24 river trips from our summer trip to Austria (this includes multiple runs on several sections, so won’t be 24 videos) which is taking up 400 Gb of my hard disc !

Meanwhile, I’ve also been working on a title logo. Need a bit of movement (which might need some new software), but the sort of thing I’ve been thinking of is along these lines…

I’m sure Tony Hammock would indeed have been crapping himself had he taken to breaking US law by paddling over the 600′ Yellowstone Falls, but in fact, he was merely dropping Low Force, whilst the outhouse isn’t that substantial – it was by the Lech on a recent paddling trip to Austria (and is actually a hide for watching birds, I think). But it’s more of a sketch for an idea than a finished logo…

The Upper Swale at an ‘easy’ level

Wednesdays seem to be getting popular for midweek paddling. Mary and Sarah were away at Plas-y-Brenin (climbing, not paddling), and Michael was at school, so a phone call suggesting that the Upper Swale was up was most welcome. Dave Peel, Tom Rawlings and Ant Stewart soon appeared at the front door and we headed over the Stang and via the Tan Hill to Upper Swaledale. The river had been well up, but was dropping off – still high enough to be worth putting on at Hoggarths Bridge, but down to 0.64m as we passed the Park Bridge gauge. Somewhere around 0.7m is reputed to be about the easiest level – less than that and the line on Rainby is getting very narrow, and the ledge run of Lower Kisdon is a bit spine-jarring. However, Upper Kisdon goes much more easily on the right, and ‘The Rapid’ is a lot less intimindating than on my previous run at 1m, when I walked round this bit. Catrake Force also goes nicely on the right, where the drops are unbroken by ledges and the landings not quite so shallow.

Dave, Tom and Ant now headed off to do the Tees Greta (I shuttled to Greta bridge for them), but I had to go off for the school run 🙁 They only took 40 minutes, so I might have had time, but it’s usually a bit slower than that, so better safe than sorry…

White Nile – Day Two run

July 2012 saw the entire family out in Uganda to paddle the White Nile. We’d originally sketched a plan to paddle in Canada in aid of Sarah and Michael’s growing playboating habit, but really wanted somewhere with a bit of river running to keep Mary and I interested. Lowri suggested the Nile, which I was not entirely comfortable with – I really wanted some hardish, maybe steepish, but above all smaller rivers than this ! However, we went, we saw, and we paddled. The water was warm, the people were incredibly friendly, and however scary at first encounter, the paddling was brilliant ! Mary and I had taken the precaution of going on Chris Evans’ “The Bombproof Roll” course at Plas-y-Brenin, since we’d both struggled to take our perfectly serviceable pool roll out onto white water. A good investment which definitely paid off, but also, paddling the Nile was a perfect complement to the course, as we got plenty of real-life practice in warm water with very few rocks. I, in particular, just went out one evening near the end of the trip and rolled repeatedly in the current far more times than I could have managed at home in cold water, and I’ve really never looked back.

As well as playing on the Nile Special rapids from Hairy Lemon Island, and Superhole, nearer to Jinja, we did a couple of runs down from the Bujagali dam (mostly easy rapids) and twice ran “Day Two” from Kalagala Falls down to Hairy Lemon, on the 16th and 18th July. The first video was put together (and rather ruthlessly trimmed to the limit of four minutes) for the SOC Photo Competition, using footage from both our runs, with both Sarah and myself using headcams. There’s also bank and headcam footage from playing on the Nile Special rapid, which is at the end of this run, taken on the 17th.

The video was shot in HD,so watch it on youtube for the full 1280×720 resolution. The river is vast, and there is quite a lot of navigation simply to find a route down reaching the named rapids by the correct channel. Here’s a gpx track of our approximate route, on which I’m pretty sure I’ve got the line down the five major rapids shown correctly, but the line down the flatter bits in between is a bit speculative (the track has been put together by looking at the aerial photos not recorded on a GPS at the time). The lines there possibly aren’t that critical, but please don’t copy the track into your GPS and believe that it will lead you down a safe route on the river !!

Cutting the Day Two video down to four minutes was enough work that I had watched too much of the footage too many times to make a good job of the full video showing more of the trip, so I left that job for later. I’ve been making more of an effort to catch up in spring 2013 (there’s a backlog of getting on for a dozen trips which will make videos) and the longer video is now complete (at just over 17 minutes). The intro was made from footage later on the trip when we travelled west and south close to the Congo border, but most of the video is paddling on the Nile.

The Nith

The second time this year we’ve paddled this, and a bit more water made it well worth the long drive to Galloway. The first section was a bit boily in places at this level, but lines are easy to spot and no-one was unseated. Rapids follow each other in fairly quick succession, but nothing unduly difficult until the river starts to narrow into its gorge section. The video features footage from both this trip and the one earlier in the year.

Different lines open up as the level rises, so the first part of the gorge was a bit changed from the spring trip. One boulder which was well out of the water last time, was well submerged this time, and had enough of a hole behind it to give Andy some rolling practice. The drop just above also provided us with a bit of rescue interest. A rock right on the eddy line caused another swim towards the end of the gorge, but this was quickly sorted, giving an exciting seal-launch to put back on.

Scotland the dry

Famed for midges and incessant rainfall, Scotland was an obvious destination for early in the whitewater season. We had confidently planned a weekend at Pitlochry for September, after the midges had retreated and when the first autumn rains were expected to be building on the minimal respite of the summer.

Driving up early, in time to get a look at some rivers in daylight, it soon became apparent that our confidence was unfounded. The Braan had only a trickle – not enough for the proposed hydro scheme surely ? As other paddlers arrived and squeezed into our chosen hostelry, Penny reckoned that Rannoch Moor never dried out and that the oozing peat kept the Garbh Ghaoir paddleable even in a drought. Failing to consult the guidebook in enough detail, we believed this and in the morning drove the vast distance up the Tummel, and on to Rannoch station – pretty much on the west side of the Highlands. At no point could we see our river from the road, since the take-out involves a paddle across a loch at the end, and the put-in is reached by some remote trekking across the moors. Dragging boats for some considerable distance over the peat and heather, we eventually arrived at some water, where we cooled off a little by putting on to a lochan and set off to find its outlet. This proved somewhat elusive at first, but eventually we found a very small stream leading away in the right direction. To suggest that this was a bit of a scrape was akin to describing sandpaper as less than perfectly glossy – and the effect on boats was not dissimilar. We could see where the lines would be – if the rocks were a little wetter…. Soon we reached the first of a number of pools where the was enough water for at least a small amount of paddling on the flat. However, many anglers had also found that these were the only places deep enough for a fish, so we thought it tactful to portage most of them. The result was a splendid walk, spoilt only by the burden of dragging kayaks and the tedium of the flat paddling on the lochs. At least it wasn’t windy – ah, but that did mean that the midges had not hibernated yet…

At this point, desperately in need of some cooling water, we drove round to Grandtully and played on the slalom section of the Tay. Some of the group went upstream to Aberfeldy and ran an easy section of river down to Grandtully, but most just did park and play, doing two or three runs down.

Dam-release can save even drought-stricken trips – Linn of Tummel

Fortunately, for Sunday, we had a more reliable scheme, as we had found that maintenance work was causing a continuous release on the lower Tummel. Whilst less than a full release, this was nonetheless sufficient for a decent paddle, as long as we could dodge the rafting companies, both on the road and on the water. With some bank inspection and safety cover, this took time enough to feel longer than its reported 4 km. We got overtaken by three rafts on the first section, but then watched them portage Sawtooth rapid which we were able to run, although at least one kayak managed to find the eponymous pointy rock in the middle. Not everyone fancied the final drop at the Linn of Tummel and eventually, only Pete Ball ran it, so with no-one else on the water below it is perhaps fortunate that he had no bother in rolling up in the loch !

The Tummel provided footage for one of my earliest videos – DV tape in a not remotely waterproof camera means there’s only bank footage, and the big rapid early on doesn’t appear, as we didn’t get out of the boats.