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The story:

Three years ago, I, a lowly fresher, completely new to kayaking, decided to step up to a relatively low run of the falls of Dochart. Safety was set and everyone on the river that day was fully prepared to fish me out if I, as expected, swam out of the hole under the bridge. However, the proverbial shit hit the fan earlier than expected. Before the bridge I managed to hit a rock and flip. Unable to Eskimo roll, I swam out of my kayak. Not yet defeated, I remembered the advice bestowed on me by Kestutis that I was to try and avoid the right side of the river at all costs. I began to swim river left but the river had other idea and pushed me right, off the plate and then I disappeared for what felt like an eternity. I was pushed into the undercut that was carved out on the river right bank and hit my knee with great intensity against some sharp rocks.


When I resurfaced I was in excruciating pain and, to add insult to injury, I had torn the leg of my dry-suit and it had filled up with water. Unable to walk, I was helped up to the road by Calum and Kestutis and set off back to the car using my paddle as a crutch.

I was unable to bend my leg for 3 weeks and had to use crutches for extended period of time. The injury itself wasn’t life threatening and my rehab was in no way taxing but that day fundamentally altered how I assess the safety of myself and others on the river.

Fast-forward to last weekend and a group of people from Edinburgh Uni Canoe Club were out in the highlands for a long weekend. After 4 days of class 3/4 boating (and a G5 or two) I was feeling confident and strong.


After 3 years away from the Dochart it had become somewhat of a nemesis to me and I was nervous to say the least but today was the day. I could feel it! Fresh off a low run of the River Coe I was ready for some REDEMPTION!

I got into my kayak and let Tom, Becca and Sam go before me, giving them plenty of space. I only managed to get half way down before eddying out to help Sam who had swam and was standing in the middle of the river. After getting Sam and his boat to the side I set off to do the rest of the rapid. With all my friends watching from the bridge I aced the line and skimmed over the hole under the bridge screaming with relief.


I know the Falls of Dochart aren’t the hardest run I’ve done or will do but the fear I had built up around them meant that it was challenging to get on the river that day. I think that with the bombardment of videos from professional kayakers running 100ft waterfalls or burly rapid class 5 rapids, it’s easy to forget how important personal accomplishments are; improving step by step and making sure you’re 100% ready for a challenge are luxuries we often forget we can afford.

Thanks to everyone who was there on the day to set safety and thanks to Scottish Kayaks & Paddles/Pyranha for lending me the sexy sexy 9R L; fast is most definitely fun!