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Now there are not too many countries like Italy, and I say this for many reasons. There work ethic seams to, well work pretty well! The people are friendly and welcoming, the country side like many of the female inhabitants is magnificently sculptured, there weather for the main part is warm and sunny, they drink wine like its water and when there not drinking wine they are sipping the best coffee or licking the best ice cream you can get on the planet. Oh and the whitewater is pretty dam fine too.


I really didn’t think I was going to make it out Valsesia this year but luckily for me just as I thought all hope had gone I got a call from one of my oldest paddling friends & 8 days later I found my self boarding the Euro Tunnel, Italy here we come. Four of the South West’s finest paddlers made up the majority of the group, (Roger Ford, a very good and very competitively priced electrician!


Dan Westaway, Dom Crawford, Andy Iley) and I made up the numbers. Are first paddle was on the middle / lower sermenza and had some great bedrock slides and boulder garden rapids to warm up on, we then shot up the valley for some fun on the Egua. Oh how me and Roger laughed as Dan first then Dom and then Andy all got whirled around in drop/eddy together! “Maybe the water is quite High” I remember saying to Roger “maybe we should slow down a bit!” he replied then continued to laugh.


Day two took us up the Sermenzina, my memory of rivers is terrible, but I always remembered this as a great river and again it didn’t disappoint, as you fly of the trumpet drop all you can do is smile. After the Sermenzina with the sun still shining high in the sky we opted for a bit of Gronda action, this is another top river, a quick walk up a bosh down, with the water pretty sporty we then carried on down into the Sorba slides, nothing to hard but 3 big volume, great fun rapids.
Day 3 started with a distinct lacking of food! So we shot down to Varallo for a re stock, and when in Varallo you may as well have a curse down the Mastallone, and I’ve got to say I really enjoyed it, and even had a swim on at the bottom! Oops…. I haven’t swum in like 12 year, then 2 in one year! Must be getting old. After a pretty chilled afternoon we headed back up to the Gronda and Sorba for some more vertical fun.
Day 4 we had had a fair bit to eat the night before! And with 2KG of Italian cow still in my belly we met up with Mr. (Gene17) Westgarth for a Simon speed decent of the Alpine sprint section of the Sesia, and it was pretty cool nice to paddle something with a bit more volume and it ends at Campertogno (where we were staying sorry!). After this we had pretty much done all we wanted to do in Italy, and so with the storm clouds brewing we packed up and headed north up in to Switzerland / Ticino & and Ribo. The journey however was quite wet…. We wild camped at the top of the Ribo; it rained all night and all morning. The Ribo was quite high…. So we decided to have a look at the Isorno, now we didn’t know to much about this, just a few choice words from Simon, park at the end of the road walk 20 minuets get on at the big slide, get off at the second roman bridge. It took us a day to find all this and I really don’t know how far I walked that day! A lot, that night though the weather cleared up and by the time we had finally hiked ourselves and are kit to get in the water had definitely dropped a touch on the previous day, Cool so we hoped on and what an adventure we had. I’m not going to say to much as you should all go and do this river.



There are lots of blind bends, lots of vertical slippery sided canyons, pretty sure it all goes. If you can get out and look though I would strongly advise this, quite a spectacular river well worth the effort.

And so after another night of wild camping and rain we found ourselves on our last river the Verzasca. After the intense day on the Isorno I think we were all a bit tired and sore, but on ward we went and what an amazing river it is, great boulder rapids some really great bed rock slides, still not sure if we had medium or high water! But there is a great pizza restaurant at the end! Home….

Two stand out frazes of the trip……Fuck it we’re on holiday! And Oh I’ve forgotten to mention Katja (That’s not the Fraze!) Are German Brain surgeon! Not overly sure how she ended up getting stuck with us but for the later part of the trip she did. But, on the Isorno (you have to picture the scene) deep gorge, rain, interesting drop and she says in her perfect German/British “I am not paddling this shit” swiftly followed by a long scream as Roger shoved her off and into the “Shit!” Classic.

Same again next year? Cheers Guys for an ace trip hope to see you all soon.

Pictures all curtsey Andy Iley