Sunday began sunny in Edinburgh and was still sunny when we arrived in Callander, so I made the possibly critical error of deciding to don my sunglasses and even put a bit of sunblock on my face as a precaution against all that reflected sunlight. The sun quickly packed it's bag and headed elsewhere! Still, luxuriating in the longer days there was no hurry to get away at the start. Babs decided not to take her van on the shuttle as she was using its battery to inflate her new toy. Those of us not driving took it in turns to observe and speculate as to whether in fact “it” was inflating – “it” being a new two seater blow up kayak. With the return of the drivers and little increase in volume or turgidity, the decision was made to set off slowly without Babs, Berry and an impressively patient Jenny and to hope they would catch up soon.
Christina asked us all what we were wanting to practice and we began at a leisurely pace. The Bridge of Teith level was about 0.75m, so the river was on the very friendly side of normal. We began with a bit of gentle ferry glide practice at the bridge – the flow was fairly slow so we headed on down to the next bridge where again the current was very gentle, however we broke in and out behind the bridge parapets and practised some more ferry glides and then continued on to the first possible play point where I believe Jamie surfed his first wave, finding it easier than he may have imagined. We all did a fair bit of playing before meandering on down experimenting with wee break outs behind random rocks. Gustaw and Alec were frequently leading in their two man craft with Marta offering encouragement of various types along the way. We played on little waves at all possible opportunities. Just as we were giving up on ever seeing Jenny, Babs and Berry, they appeared on the horizon and not long after all 13 of us were re-united and ready to stop for lunch at a fishing hut. Berry seeming relaxed and unperturbed by her inflatable boat adventure. There were more ferry glides to warm up as we re-started at the lunch spot – many including Nick, Jenny, Christina and Paul were getting in plenty of reverse ferry glides and I thought I'd join in – ummm a wee bit frustrated by my failure on this. It seems I need more forward ferry glide practice and will have to start my reverses at points with slightly lower flow rates. As there aren't a vast number of waves to play on, a certain amount of pushing on and off went on with the waves that were available and despite paying close attention to Mags' technique, Jamie and I never quite mastered the one which kept pushing us off to one side. One group experimented with some eddy hopping with slightly mixed results towards the end. I started to feel a wee bit tired and put a warm skull cap back on in preparation for the final rapid. Christina carefully explained that we were going to practice some breaking in and out on the faster flow – something I certainly need practice in – then I succeeded in completely forgetting what she'd said and totally missed my practice by paddling straight on down... maybe my tiredness just got the better of me. There was much playing on the final wee rapid, although many of us by this stage were a little tired. Maybe this is where Ian picked up his wee injury... I challenged myself to ferry glide the fastest bits I could and so capsized. Somewhat to my amazement I stayed entirely calm and thought oh well I'll just have to roll up – which I managed first time - thus executing my first ever combat roll! So a great trip with people taking every opportunity offered to practice and progress with their technique and showing there's lots of demand amongst us paddlers to hone our various river skills at all levels. Thanks to Christina for leading and everyone else who helped make it a fun day. Jane