The Etive is one of the classic runs in the West Highlands, and could not be missing on our to-do list.
We arrive late from Fallough, the sunset is very early this time off the year in Scotland, so unfortunately we can not admire the magnificent beautiful valley we are cruising in. The valley was even used as the scenery in the sky-fall Bond movie.
As we can't see the river or actually anything else we decide to park the motorhome about 3 km upstream from Dalness. I am guessing that we are around the take-out of the Etive.
When the next day awakes in cold and misty Scotland, we can finally see the Etive and the sky clears in our hart and mind because this river has water oh boy, it won't be a scrapy decent that is for sure!!
Birdy is not confident that we are at the take-out and we decide to follow the river downstream, but apparently my guess was right because downstream, the rivers flattens out and we arrive in Dalness. Just below Dalness one brave paddler could do the Dalness falls, but this is not really recommended with high water and baby we have high water!!!
Its my time to do the shuttle, so I drop off the Birdy and the Small Rubber Band named Peter at the take-in, I park the motorhome at the take-out and I am starting my bike ride of shame with my orange drysuit on Peters fancy foldable bike. At the put-in we meet some other paddlers who are not eager to put in the river with this water level, one guy is warning us that with this level some holes become very pully and some sections very tricky.
We say that we are brave Belgians and its time some good qualtity Belgian Triple meets Scotisch single malt. But slightly uncomfortable we look at the Etive and must admit to ourself that we are not only a little bit worried, .... but really a lot!
The middle part of the Etive starts with a triple drop, the first two drops look very dodgy with serious stoppers and we decide to start at the last drop of the triple drop. The reception of the drop is a big whirling hole, were you don't want to swim. The best line is to take this drop on the right side, but when we are looking at the entry of the drop we see that a bowling mushroom is forming in front of the drop for 10 seconds which makes it difficult to get to the right line, and than the mushroom is gone and it is ok for 3 seconds, so we have a window of 3 seconds to get to the right line. Birdy goes first, and he masters this drop perfectly. I am less successful and before I notice it, I end up sidewards in the hole. Not yet very much awake, I go straight for the exit, luckily I am close to the rocks and I can get out smoothly and instantly grab my boat and paddle. Disappointed about this fuck-up I go straight for the second run, now I decide not to go for the right pussy-line and I punch straight trough the hole without a hassle.
Birdy Fliessss on the third drop of Triple Falls
Wakaaaaa in the Letterbox
The Etive is full of cracks, the crack of doom, the crack of dawn, and apparently there should be also a crack of Harry somewhere, but we can not find it.
Ward in the Crack of Doom
Peter on Rock Slide
After some really nice drops, cracks, slides, ... we arrive at right angle falls, this monster is not huge its epic!. The fall itself is not very hight, about 6 min (or 20 feet) but the entry is at best tricky and the reception is just barely tremendous. Normally the entry is an S-bend with a nasty small hole in the middle, now the water is just flowing from all sides, and at least 2 other lines might be possible (left, middle and right), but if you fuck up at the entry you are screwed at the bottom. A huge 1m high mushroom is formed at 10-20 m from the fall, so if you boof it good you still have to deal with it, on the left side there are overhanging walls where the water will pull you back towards the waterfall, if you get stuck on the right side, you are stuck in calm water but you wont be able to paddle out of it. After a long and nerve wrecking evaluation process we decide not to go for it. Even stepping in after the water fall is still tricky because the water is pushing almost 50m to the opposite walls and we all have to give that extra push to pass the river and get out of the eddy
You should hear the roaring sound with this picture.
After this, the river has not to many tricks left and we smoothly paddle to the confluence of the Allt a Chaorainn.