Getting my MTB back in shape...

July 2018

So after the excitement of Italian whitewater, the calm of some sunny sea paddling evenings its time to shred some MTB trails.  I got a day way down south in Berkshire at the Swinley Forest crown estate and their many acres of mtb routes.  Not much altitude in scottish terms but they have used whats there pretty well.  I blasted off the blue on to the full red loop and then back to the coffee house on the blue again.  Refreshed, I went back out and off-piste as the woods are simply full of trails built by the locals.  They have even got tall pines to make me feel at home.  Of the whole 42 kms I did that afternoon, the "Labrynth" was the best bit and had me whooping with delight and pedalling like fury. What a great work-out.  If you are doooon sooooth from scotland then have a look on the map just south of Bracknell.

And another coincidence was to bump into another solo rider that afternoon by the name of Chris - who was not only an offshore sort of guy but was born in the same place I was.  Small world!

Next up was a couple of leg stretcher loops including an evening with my local group - Aboyne Nomads.  Good to get up and around Scolty Hill with its many local built short, snappy, reasonably steep trails (downwards of course). A group of 8 so lots of social giggles and camaraderie.  Nice to feel back in the local riders group and the weather up here just now is stunning.

Summer sea kayak evenings again

July, Tuesday the what....

Managed to get the long boat back on the water with my friends in NESKy as the summer evenings along the Moray and East coasts were stunning.  Gentle exercise and good banter all round.  Managed on various weeks to get out at Pennan (across Troup Head to Gardenstown and back), Stonehaven for caves, and along the coast south from Cove.

At Troup Head we saw the many thousands of sea birds on their tiny perches on the cliffs - mainly razorbills and gannets just now.  And just one seal to spy on us.  Whilst on the evening run down from Cove to the Findon Survival Craft works we also saw just a few puffins.  And for some reason a gaggle of ducks were in the sea too.

About time the jelly babies were broached !


Whitewater heaven... Valsesia in Italian Alps

May 11th - June 2nd 2018

Went out again to the kayaking mecca that is Campertogno in the Italian Alps, this time driving down from London with Tony B in his AMG performance paddle wagon.  Through the Mont Blanc tunnel and all those super scenic alpine roads.

The first week was fairly mellow with reasonable water levels and a number of groups already in the area to paddle with.  A group from Lincolnshire on the Gronda and irish Scouts on the Sesia.

The Sermenzina was a new river for me and a good challenge with the foursome from Bath/Bristol Uni expats.  Small world... included Tom H who was the son of a guy I paddled with in my BUCC days (approx 35 years ago).  Later that day my return to the Sorba slides didn't go to plan as I crash landed the first boof off the kicker - ouchhhh (that hurt for a while).

Had the middle week with super-guide Stu P and his two buddies Jen & Steve doing Lower Sermenza, Mastellone, Alpine Sprint, Egua, etc.  Got the falls & boof ledges of the Gronda paddled as well.

 Even had a stroll up to Heidi's place for lunch and to blether on about the "trotti" catchers and the proper line down the upper sorba!

Levels were coming up due to the daily thunderstorms so the choice of rivers was a regular debate in the campsite and some stuff became pretty tricky.  Chris & Lyndon did Landwasser whilst I stood rescue duty - I now regret not pushing my level that day. Oli and Natty were there too.

All-in-all a good 3 weeks of changing groups and rivers; lots of it at grade 4+/5- but this year without the sun of 2017.


A break from the snow; March 2018

March 24-25th 2018

So at last the weather is easing and we are entering Spring.  In actual fact I don’t think I’ve been out in the Sirius more than once this year so far!  To celebrate, my long time mate Chris and I took a sea kayak weekend down in Ayrshire.   

Day 1 was from Portencross Castle and across/round the isles of Little & Great Cumbrae.  A lovely coastline with some flat calm/sunshine to help us along.  Snow-capped Goat Fell on Arran dominated the sky line whereas the nearer Isle of Bute was fairly low-key. Chris was trying out his new stead ready for bigger trips so we just pottered on.  

Coffee stops at Deadman’s Bay (!) and on the prom’ at Millport to chill out.  Almost no other boats out & about all day.  Its a bit strange to paddle with both giant wind turbines and a nuclear generating station on the near shore though.  Watched several porpoises ambling about (is "ambling" what a porpoise does?) and saw maybe a dozen seals - the porpoises didn't seem interested in coming across to play with our boats though.

We were too late to catch the Italian ice-cream house in Largs but a good evening meal followed and a bottle of wine saw us catch up on old times.

Day 2 was a bit more blustery but still just slight sea conditions as we paddled across the Firth of Clyde to Loch Long and then Holy Loch.  Again lovely in the sun but somewhat cooler as we got into shade;  the hills towards the Cobbler (to the north) kept disappearing in showers.  Bumped into a pair of open canoes off Strone Head doing a fairly lengthy and challenging loop.  

Had a lunch stop this time on the front at Dunoon before attempting the crossing of the ferry traffic back to the prom’ at Gourrock.  
Tried a bit of surfing on the confused waves running up the Firth

Here’s to a good season of paddling and pedalling as I approach the age of 60;  and cheers to old mates who still choose to come out for a splash.


(Some photo credits to Chris Wade RCC)