From the beginning of May, Tuesdays mean only one thing to kayakers –the Moriston, a guaranteed Grade 4 river at the same level each week in the sun (hopefully!) and it’s only 45 minutes away from us at Invermoriston. There are often fellow boaters there from as far afield as Fort William and Aberdeen and it’s a chance for far north boaters to meet other kayakers on a river – not a normal experience in Wester Ross.
Torquil’s Tuesdays are now set in stone for the next few months. He meets up with his fellow boater, Robert, in Beauly at 3pm and ends up back there a few hours later for supper at the Priory chipper.
Their first outing was a couple of weeks ago and, being a bit out of the groove, things didn’t quite go to plan. Changing at the Upper Moriston get-in, at the lay-by beside the dam, Robert realised to Torquil’s delight that he had no dry-top or trousers with him. For some strange reason, Torquil has always wanted to see someone run the river without the essential dry kit! Alas for Torquil, Robert managed to borrow some kit and the pair completed a couple of rusty runs – 8 months of little paddling had done them no favours.
The top drop is always something to raise the stress levels as a lack of concentration will catch out even the best – many styles of descent have been observed from running the left, middle or right of the drop to those who have suffered the ignominious fate of running it backwards or even without their boat.
On this occasion Torquil ran it to the left, bouncing down the left-hand side to avoid the powerful downwards force below the falls, which can pop your spray deck or at least backloop you. The descent went as planned with no downtime under the falls, which can push you against the left wall if upside down. It’s not easy to roll up against the force of water if you capsize as you get pushed against the wall. The next 200m give plenty of opportunity for eddy hopping and there is one good pop out spot.
The second set of falls has to be run from right to left. There is a powerful hydraulic if you are caught out under the falls on the right – if you end up there, you will end up swimming out of it.
The third feature, known as the ‘cheese grater’, has a right or left option both of which cause problems – swimming is always a possibility here if you end up in the large hydraulic just below the falls. From here more Grade 4 river leads you down to the playhole at the get out. He’ll have to build up to more runs as the season goes on. Time for chips!