Sunday, 6 September 2009

River Avon

Two or three weeks ago we had a family walk down the Avon Heritage Trail, from Avonbridge to Linlithgow. It looked as if it would make a good paddle, so Calum and I went out to recce it for a club trip yesterday. The weather was foul and Avonbridge a pretty uninspiring place to start from, but the water level was high enough to make it navigable. We started out on what isn't much more than a big ditch, but it was fun enough. We met a guy wearing a BA on the bank. He was out looking for his open canoe, which he'd lost 2 days earlier, when the river was a couple of feet higher. We found it wrapped round a tree a few miles downstream, totally mangled. With a bit of effort we got it out of the river, and phoned him to give him the news. I suspect if he hadn't come out where he did he might be dead. There are some low lying obstacles (like bridges) which an open boat wouldn't have got under in higher water.

The run down to Linlithgow is long and reasonable sport. The river is constantly moving, mostly at around grade 2. There are a couple of harder drops, one of which we protected from the bank- it's a broken down weir just after the Forth-Clyde aqueduct.
We had to rescue a hypothermic sheep at one point! It was up to its neck in the water and had clearly lost the will to live. A wet sheep is incredibly heavy.

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