Friday, 3 October 2008

Wet West Paddle Fest

In the middle of September a small gang of us headed north to Fort William to see what the Wet West Paddle Fest was all about. I'd not been to any big paddling type events for a while due to a strongly anti-social sense of avoiding crowds on rivers. I've got to say though that it was a superb event - great boating and really really nice people. I would imagine I'll be back up for this festival again. There was a great atmosphere throughout the weekend and we all had loads of fun. Thanks to Jo by the way for letting us make her house look like a squat for the weekend.

Playing on the Garry

Confidence inspiring sign at the Moriston put in

Getting ready to float down stream on the Moriston

Beef decides to melt in the guts of the first drop

Brinky also goes deep

Dave enters one of the longer Moriston rapids

Working my way through a rapid on the Moriston

G Diddy enjoying himself

Beef lines up for the last drop of the Upper Moriston

Monday, 4 August 2008

Turkey - another large portion

The Alara was just over into the next valley from the Manavgat. It was a pretty stunning place, and we ended up spending a few days there. We were well looked after by a local restaurant owner and his staff. We spent our nights sleeping on the roof of his place, after eating copious amounts of food. The Alara river itself was a quick two minute walk down the hill from the restaurant which was handy as it doubled up as our washing facility. The valley was extremely beautiful and there were several sections to do on the river. We didn't managed to get them all done but the stuff we paddled was excellent, especially the middle Alara canyon also known as the Kaiser Gorge which I would dearly love to have running in the hills near my house.

Chilling out at the Alara restaurant - some of us slept on these platfroms

While the rest of us slept up here

A spring at the put in of the top Alara gorge

Deep in the first Alara canyon

Sheer rock walls don't make for fun portages

Beef drops into the Kaiser gorge

Working through the Kaiser gorge

Ali and Beef work their way down stream

Approaching a boof

Beef gets some air

Ali goes for the boof

A tight Alara drop

Heading off into the canyon

After a long day on the river it's bath time

Donna gets to grips with the washing facilities

Frankie messing about in the bathroom

The Alara was truly amazing. The river was so sweet, I wish I could paddle it regularly, we were sad to go. After spending our time at the Alara we headed back to the Dalaman via Alarahan Castle, which was spectacular in itself. Once back at the Dalaman we spent a couple more days enjoying the river there before the trip home.

Alarahan Castle

The only way to get to the castle was to climb through a series of tunnels.......

.........which were full of bats........

..........who loved to flutter round our heads

Another chilled out evening with great food

Nadir tries to relax before more Turkey Euro 2008 action

As it turned out Turkey was an awesome trip.....I think much better than any of us expected to be. The people were amazingly helpful and friendly, the food superb, the weather was awesome, it was cheap, and the boating was excellent. I can't really fault it. The rivers felt remote and were beautiful, and it's hard to believe that there are places like this so close to UK. I can't recommend South West Turkey enough, creeking in blazing sunshine for a fraction of the cost of an Alps trip - sweet.

Thanks to Alternatif Outdoor who set the trip up for us and especially to Nadir our driver who went above and beyond the call of duty to look after us. I'm sure we'll be back to Turkey soon.....

The gang

Monday, 21 July 2008

Turkey - the main course

The Manavgat is quite close to Korpucay but it felt like a world away. The Korpucay area was the most touristy place we went to on our trip, and the river itself was heavily rafted. The Manavgat was just about the complete opposite. Once off the main road you were into a remote unspoiled area. Everyone in this area seemed to be getting by on small scale farming on the rugged terrain surrounding the river. As we got further in the area we realised the boating was going to be committing to say the least.

Getting down to our campsite beside the river

We were surrounded by these......

Moon rise from our campsite

After a good nights sleep and breakfast with a local family, we set off to paddle the "grand canyon" of the Manavgat. We knew that this was probably going to be a long day out......we didn't really comprehend how long. The river started off as a small stream in a steep valley. Once we were in there was clearly no way out. This first section was tough, we would paddle for a hundred metres or so only to come to a boulder choke that we would have to clamber over and around. A couple of times the river would disappear underground. This was hard tiring work. A couple of times we had no choice but jump into the water and swim across pools between the chokes. This was all pretty miserable so there aren't many photos. We had about 3 hours of this before things changed dramatically.

Floating down the top of the river before the boulder choke hell began

Boulder purgatory

The boulder chokes seemed to go on for ever and we were really suffering. Just before it all got too much though we rounded a corner and we saw the welcome sight of huge springs bursting out of the sheer sided gorge which reared up before us. The gorge walls were immense and completely awe inspiring. The spring water flowing between the walls was clean and clear, and the volume of the river increased tenfold. The whitewater really kicked in now. The rapids were long and steep with very short pools in between. Pretty much everything had a line and we started to really enjoy ourselves. The drops kept on coming and the gorge seemed like it was never going to end. Eventually after nine hours on the water we emerged from the canyon to arrive at our campsite. We were absolutely exhausted but we all agreed that we had just experienced one of the best river trips we had ever had.

The walls rise and the springs start to flow.....

With a huge spring to the side of him Frankie fires it up on the first big drop of the canyon

Heading downstream in the gorge

Grandad running the last bit of a double drop

Leaning back a bit too much on the same rapid

Getting ready to get back on the water after one of the few portages in the main canyon

Jamie approaches a nice boof

Approaching a Manavgat 10 footer

Wide view of the same drop

Landing the boof

Frankie lines up the same falls

At the bottom of a nice slide and drop

Grandad lines up on a rapid

Looking back upstream at the canyon

Matt nearing the bottom of a long rapid

The canyon went on and on luckily at the bottom we were able to relax after a long day by looking at yet more Turkish wildlife.



After our long day on the Manavgat we soundly for a long long time! We then packed up and headed over to the Alara river where more adventures both on and off the river were in store. More on that soon..........