How Rivers change

As described in the next post, we’ve had a week in Slovenia paddling mainly the Soča. I paddled the slalom section on the 20th and found the water level a bit higher than when SOC had paddled in June, four years ago. There’s a photo on the SOC website, taken by a German lad the group met up with, from the footbridge at the start of the Slalom Section and I noticed on my own photo from a similar spot that things had changed quite a lot. So I went back a couple of days later and took a load of shots, trying to get close to the same position where Andy had stood to take his photo. Below you’ll see my closest match – the water level had dropped from my run, and is now only a little higher than in the 2012 view, and it was overcast rather than the late afternoon sunshine of the earlier photo.

The boulder on the left at the entry of the rapid at “A” has split. The upstream bit is still shown as “A” on the 2016 shot, but a larger part has fallen downstream to “A'”. The big boulder marked “B” in both photos has been washed down and round a bit. But the huge (5m on a side) boulder at “C” has simply vanished ! Boulders immediately behind it (as seen from the river, left in the photo) seem not to have moved much, but something must have washed out from under it and allowed it to collapse into the river. Where Pete Ball is calmly paddling across flat water in 2012, there is now a large piece of the boulder, at “E”, with quite a few new boulders also visible under the water upstream and river left of it, pushing a lot of water into the narrower right hand channel. This has had the effect of raising the water level in the short reach between boulders “A” and “E” which is one reason why it is quite hard to judge the relative water levels in the two photos. I suspect the boulder “D” in 2016 is the one which was lying between “B” and “C” in 2012, but it is hard to be sure.

Rocks by sea kayak

A week in Mull, ostensibly for sea kayaking, but Sarah (and, I suppose, to a certain extent I) had an alternative agenda to look at the geology. This was a useful sideline, as conditions got progressively sunnier and calmer during the week until there wasn’t even a trace of swell to go rockhopping by the end. We found Mull easiest to reach with the dragging shed by using both the Corran ferry and the Lochaline-Fishnish ferry, as it’s cheaper (even counting extra mileage) and doesn’t need advanced booking. The Oban-Craignure ferry on a bank holiday week is a bit of a nightmare. Three of us went up, but Mary came back with some of the other paddlers on Tuesday, while Sarah and I stayed on even after all the others ran away on Thursday.

Poking into geos in the Ross of Mull granite – with Moine xenoliths!

Mediterranean scenery – on the Ross of Mull

Rockhopping the Cormorant at Erraid

Several paddles on Mull to document here – twice round Erraid and various skerries, once just skerries, and to Carsaig arches both from Uisken (24km) and from Carsaig (rather shorter). Quite a lot of photos to extract from a lot of video footage (some shot at 2704x1524p30 which seems to give very good quality stills). There were some geological walks, too, but I think they get a separate post.

Second trip to Carsaig arches, from the east, and in sunshine

Fossil hunting on the Tees

Having spectated as Sarah and Michael paddled the Upper Tees on Saturday, Sunday was to be a trip supporting recently-joined SOC members on an easier river. As the water levels had dropped right off yet again, the initial plan was to Park’n’Play at Abbey, but this got expanded to paddling Barney-Winston. As it happened, the only new paddler who had committed to coming had managed to lose his wallet a few hours previously (must have been a good night!) and couldn’t make it, so Mary, Andy and Sarah paddled with Clive Hall, Pete Ball and James Lock. Abbey was an OK level, though I made an impressive mess of it on my second run (and amazed everyone by staying in my boat as it bashed over various rocks, to roll up at the bottom). There were fishermen in abundance at Whorlton, so we skirted down the left and dropped off the end to avoid upsetting them. The Grafts Farm playwaves proved quite entertaining, especially when James and I found ourselves on the same bit of wave at one point. I braced off the only support I could reach (James’ shoulder) and stayed upright. James rather got the worst of it, as he didn’t. Sorry !

The new rockfall below Wycliffe (photo from last trip)

Shortly downstream, as we noted on our last trip, a substantial rockfall on the outside of the bend has buried a little wave I used to enjoy playing on, but has dumped a very large amount of massive sandstone blocks, and far more crumbly shales and calcareous mudstones into the river. Sarah and I spent a few minutes picking fossils out of this lot. Most of the rocks show very little in the way of fossils, but a few lumps proved to be quite rich in Brachiopods and Crinoid fragments.

Brachiopods from the recent cliff collapse, river right, below Wycliffe

More photos when I’ve actually processed today’s video footage !