Three days in Galloway


The Galloway River Tour 21-23/3

Day 1,

5 participants Chris Dale, Brian Clough, Sten Sture, Mike Hayward and myself ( Ian Mc) started the 3 day weekend at two assembly points at 9:00 a.m. Friday morning for the trek north, the mission to search out and paddle the rivers of Dumfries & Galloway area and borders.

So all loaded, let the mission begin! With an “in progress” communicator call to the other ventures Brian and Sten, Myself, Mike and Chris were able to determine that we should “dock” for a rendezvous at Southwaite services to consider the all-important campaign (to boldly go in search of water). So coffee ordered (and scooby snack for Chris), maps and guide books at the ready and of course the obligatory electronic hand held water divining devices (smart phones)!

Let the debate begin, Kinnel was plan “A” as it would have been a first descent for us, oh no not enough water, ☹ Plan “B” Water of Girvan, Mmmm! that may run but on the other hand if not enough water it’s a long way and somewhat out of our way so it could waste a day, so it was plan “C” that made it that day, the Water of Minnoch being nearer to where we were heading for our accommodation at Creetown with more chance of a paddle wet! Not an ideal water level but paddleable (we hoped).

So along with the obligatory chat and good humoured banter, jokes included we finished up our caffeine scooby snacks et all and headed off, but not before a random quiz question was thrown into the mix, “ name the three captains from the Star Trek movies” well there was the immediate response by one of Captain Kirk, then another offered an answer as Jean-Luc Picard then silence? Any further head scratching was substituted with the scramble to get to a river now the decision had been made.

So it was off to the Glen Trool visitor centre to check the levels and paddleability of the lower section that starts just below the G5 Dog Leg falls, the guide book lists the lower section as starting gently, picking up to give nice long G3 rapids with the last drop slightly harder at 4. At 0.72 metres it’s a goer! Yeh! So kit on shuttle sorted, away we go trimming a selection of plastic off the hulls with a seal launch for starters, not a good policy for sure.


A flat section of water then follows just to get everyone warmed up, the carefree float down the flat section through the old Minnoch bridge (pictured with Mike paddling through) it is then broken by a 1m which can be taken anywhere. This is then followed by another three or four interesting sections of G3, one of which was to be taken hard left with an interesting line taken by Sten. The final trick, the G4 Brogan bridge saw us nicely negotiate a drop, river right, with the rather unobvious rocky maze route at the bottom  taken by three with myself and Chris opting for an egress above left on the basis “I’m here now”  Get out is on river right for the three that negotiate dates maze whilst myself and Chris had chosen incorrectly the Grade 5 bramble infested rou

The other captain? “Captain Slog” yes the jokes are that good! ☹

Ian Mc

Day 2  Water of Girvan  the Ness Glen

After checking the disappointing water levels, Saturday morning saw us  driving an hour north to check out the Water of Girvan. According to the guide book this should go at anything above 0.4 and the gauge was reading of 0.7.

The sun was shining and the water level under the bridge at Straiton looked fine. This is only a 7km section so the shuttle was quick and those of us guarding the boats had the rare treat of warm sunshine sheltered from the breeze by the bridge.

Once on the water the paddling was easy but flowing with a few gentle rapids leading to a manmade split in the river – the right hand natural water course looked low so we paddled the slow moving manmade left hand channel, a large meander made to take the river below the terrace of Blairquhan Castle.

Soon after we re-joined the natural course of the river, we entered a wooded sandstone gorge.  This contained a number of bedrock ledges with rapids between. The first ledge was dry apart from a narrow chute down the right. This and two more ledges of significant height were worthy of inspection. Everything was clear of trees and the whole river went without any incident worthy of comment. Well maybe I could mention Mike running out of water and getting stuck teetering on the edge of the second ledge.

From the take out it was a short drive through Dalmellington to the dam at the north end of Loch Doon, the source of the River Doon. At the dam there is a visitor centre and café, those familiar with paddling in the company of Brian will know what happens next.  It felt very strange having coffee before the start of a river and Brian’s lust for paddling was briefly paused while he ate another scone.


Ness Glen

The compensation flow of 2.6 cumecs means that Ness Glen, the first 1km stretch of Grade 3, goes most of the time. I am not sure about this grade. The first 800m drops 10m  but the last 600m drops 30m giving a gradient of 50m/km – usually grade 5, but  all the rapids are G3 but they are stacked so closely together, with a lot of event horizons and tight breakouts this section feels harder.

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 A tree across the exit from one particularly steep rapid with an eddy big enough for only three of the five boats did require some speedy action to make space and grab the bow of the last boat.

The second reasonably event free trip of the day. No rolls no swims but countless rocks collided with. It’s a good job we paddle plastic.


Day 3 Nith The Jaws of Nith

Wishes Do come true! As a late entrant to the Galloway trip, I informed the team of my wish to paddle the Nith. Last resort they said, only if all else fails.

So there we were Sunday a.m., at the cold and windy put in for the Nith. A low level 0.64 still gave us a succession of grade 3 rapids to run, good practice for Sten and Brian, who had swapped boats for the day. Tension built as we glided along on the flat middle section, onwards to the Jaws of Nith. A series of drops in a twisty rocky gorge, luckily for Ian and myself we had 3 leaders to guide us down, so all was negotiated without mishap and inspection! The trickiest line a boil approach to a rather narrow line between a breaking wave and a rock, leading to a blind 2m boof.  I couldn’t have wished for a better end to the Galloway adventures.

Unfortunately Brian’s wish for a nice post paddle scone in the Thomas Tosh cafe didn’t come true, they’d sold out.

Wishes Do come true! As a late entrant to the Galloway trip, I informed the team of my wish to paddle the Nith. Last resort they said, only if all else fails.

So there we were at the cold and windy put in for the Nith. A low level still gave us a succession of grade 3 rapids to run, good practice for Sten and Brian, who had swapped boats for the day. Tension built as we glided along on the flat middle section, onwards to the Jaws of Nith. A series of drops in a twisty rocky gorge, luckily for Ian and myself we had 3 leaders to guide us down, so all was negotiated without mishap. I couldn’t have wished for a better end to the Galloway adventures.

Unfortunately Brian’s wish for a nice post paddle scone in the Thomas Tosh cafe didn’t come true, they’d sold out.

Chris D

Lune coaching again.

Wednesday 27th. Our sixth trip to the Lune, we’re coming to understand why Mike enjoys this river so much.
On Wednesday the water level was the lowest we have seen. Can we do something on this? We decided to head down from Killington new bridge to the confluence with the Rawthey. With one car dropped down to the bridge near the Rawthey confluence, Mike, John S, Eric and Pete did a quick warm up on the calm and shallow water by Killington bridge. We then drifted down to the first weir, after a quick look over the edge the tow back seemed moderate so we all shot over without too much drama. Next an interesting series or rocky rapids, good play spots and eddies to practice on. Some quick flows to practice breaking in and out. All going well so far.
Then the big weir at Broad Raine. Much work has been done and very different from how Mike remembers it. Mike tells us stories of high drama in the stopper when the flow is high. Not too bad today, but the three novices wonder if we should portage. Decide if Mike makes it safely we will follow. All slipped over nicely, the stopper allowed us through. Eric decided to cool off after the excitement of the big weir in the next rapid.
Soon down to the Rawthey with much fun and little drama. A great little trip in two hours.
To Killington sailing club to spread a tonne of gravel as a warm down.
Much thanks to Mike S for running these sessions through Feb and March. With coaching input from Mike H, Phil and Mark, on occasions we had one on one coaching.
Hope our improvement did justice to their efforts….
Thanks from JohnS, Eric, Colin, Pete, Alex.

Friday cancelled -too low!!!


The river of Eden

The morning started with a flurry of messages on WhatApp where the various options were mentioned before the collective decision was made to paddle the Eden, at a medium level, from Lazonby. A 0900 meet at the normal place near junction 36 saw 2 vehicles setting of and were met by more at the car park. This gave a total of 8 paddlers, Chris, Chris, Mike, Phil, Tom, and Guy. The shuttle was run then of we set off. The upper section, 8km to Armathwaite showed nice New Red Sandstone cliffs with well developed cross bedding (sorry but if you get someone with a geological background that’s what you get), but more to the point a series of pleasant grade 2 + 3 rapids. Great for playing on. Beyond the rock faces is Amathwaite weir —-. A careful 10 minute inspection, followed 10 seconds lining up the run then 10 millisecond to go over the top and be spat out into the turbulent water at the bottom. The result was all the paddlers made it look easy with no swimmers.

The final section 8km, to Wetheral had fewer rapids but include some large wave trains and  big surf waves , maybe Cumbria’a biggest, these could still be played on. All in all a very pleasant run down the Eden.


Chris T



Sunday and levels had settled, Sten organised us all to the put in on the Mint only problem was my spraydeck was at the take out of the Mint. I am going to blame everybody else claiming inadequate supervision from other members of the team. Although in fairness they did point out that I was about to leave my boots in the car park before I drove home.

However – the river. Good level (0.9) lots of company, there were a group of eight of us and another group of seventeen at the put in. Fortunately we all separated up and the river did not seem to crowded at all.

Lots of cold clear water bubbling down past the familiar rapids, touch of spring in the air with some sunshine, so much warmer than the Wharfe with a biting north wind, in the right direction, pushing us down the river but still cold.

Butties in Morrison’s car park and the group from London arrived and soon there were kayaks of all shapes and colours, quite a jamboree.

Oh well that’s it for another week, still Galloway next weekend, come on rain do your stuff.


Friday 15th paddle seemed like a good idea with lots of rain forecasted in the night and four of us, Chris, Matt, Nigel and Brian gathered. The forecast was so promising Matt took the day off work. I hoped given the forecast, for trip down the top of the Wharfe, but no rain in the night meant a move to a Plan B and not such a bad plan B at that. We transferred down the river a little for a run of the Wharfe from Kettlewell to Grassington, past the mighty Kilnsey Crag and memories of days with a vertical as oppose to aquatic slant.

Conistone rapid gave us a good for a bit of target practice as we aimed for a predetermined place to boof the recirculation below, only to have the river fight back, take control and push us where it wanted us to go. The Strid was good, finishing with a long fun slide and eventually we arrived at the get out with just Linton Falls left to go. To go! Who said to go? Any thoughts of running Linton Falls were quickly abandoned – it looked horrendous, fascinating to look out and pick out a line we would theoretically run without even the remotest possibility of us actually getting back in our boats and giving it a go.

Great Greta

River gauge. 1.3 high

Paddlers Brian, Sten, Mark Mc, Grant, Sue, Matt, Ian Mc, Chris, Nigel, Mark H, guets Tom and Reg

The hardest part seemed to be getting to the river Mark and Ian getting stuck in traffic jams on the M6, my car decided to immobilise and I had to resort to reading the manual.

There were lots of us twelve in all –good to see – and I think we found a clean, fun satisfactory way of paddling with so many.

We divvied up into 3 groups of 4 paddlers and I must admit we had a rather nice paddle down a full but not too high Greta.

It was all very pleasant and good fun, no dramas, making for a very good controlled river trip, not lending itself to the retelling of dramas, disasters and interesting tall tales but perhaps that is a good thing.

Threlkeld cafe got the thumbs at the first visit and tales of old were retold.


Tasty Mint

Phil, Mike, Tom, Tom, decided to descend the Mint with  0.63 on the gauge. Another overnight spike eluded us, low but enough.

Te fish steps hid tight lines, for a clean descent of the ledges. The tree hazards removed so no portaging. In the large recirculating eddy, the river scores it’s first point claiming a roll by grabbing a paddle under a kayak on eddy line. All went smoothly, the sun emerged. The weir always a little exciting, until Meall bank falls. A tricky level, with the main line stopping all, in the hole at the bottom of the drop.

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River tried for 4 more points, but only gained one swimmer.

Phil – Meall bank falls

The slidey drop 400m downstream claimed another point as Phil almost landed on Tom’s upturned boat, as he just avoided being recirculated into the drop, whilst setting up his roll.  The final gorge section inspected as the entry is a little tricky.

Tom M entry to last rapids

All went well, but just around the corner the river boiled, between the final two drops, claiming a point from the other Tom.  Still a fine paddle that tested the team.


We’re going on a bore hunt!

Angela, Sten, Mike, Brian and Sue met at Canal foot on a sunny Saturday morning and with sunglasses and caps donned set off on a Bore Hunt.

This is the second time I’ve been in search of the infamous Bore and had high hopes for the day. The forecast predicted a F3-F4 headwind but we hardly noticed and with a bit of tidal assistance we were soon drifting past Bardsea enjoying the sunshine and flocks of oystercatchers on the sandbanks.

We headed out further into the bay to a wide channel and then we waited for the bore to growl its way into the bay.


The wind suddenly dropped, and Mike called “I think that it” as a smallish green wave approached only to peter out almost instantly. Soon the surrounding channels began to fill and Angela and Sten (I think there was some insider knowledge going on… ) headed over to a channel closer to shore. As each small surge of tide filled the channels there were cries of “is that the Bore?! Is that the bore?!” But it seemed to be eluding us.

Eventually Brian, Mike and I headed over to an Eddie forming at Chapel Island to wait and see what would happen next but it was looking like to infamous Bore would have to wait for another trip.

After a while we tried to head over to the shore side channel where Angela and Sten were waiting, but the current was revving up and we were cut off by another sandbank so decided to soak up the magical expanse of salt and sand and sit it out. Brian was kept amused by a play spot forming near an adjacent sandbank until there was enough water to make our way back to canal foot.


Once nearer to the pier it was clear how fast the tide was moving now as the current swirled around channel markers and ‘I almost mis-timed my landing at canal foot’.


We regrouped, had a quick sarnie and headed for the viaduct and the swirling brown waters around the stanchions. Angela took it like a pro and shot through the boiling waters followed by Sten and Brian.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore opportunities to keep Brian out of mischief also found here. We then headed towards the Leven and our final destination Greenodd, stopping to play in the swirling waters.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith our destination in clear site it took a while for us to realise that we were stuck in a back eddie and going nowhere. (Thanks for the heads-up Mike!) and were forced to re trace our steps in order to find another channel to take us to Greenodd. After some slalom practice with umpteen fishing lines projecting from the banks we were back on dry land followed by tea and Angela’s delicious homemade scones and tales of the infamous Morecambe Bay Bore.


We’re going on a bore hunt.

We’re going to catch a big one.

What a beautiful day!

We’re not scared.