Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

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dangerjudy
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Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by dangerjudy » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:58 pm

I am thinking about organizing a trip to Great Britain to kayak. My friends and I would want class II-III-IV rivers (US rating, I don't know if you use the same system to rate rivers/rapids). What time of year would be the best time to visit for river running/creeking?
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Bruce Jolliffe
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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by Bruce Jolliffe » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:42 pm

Hi DangerJudy,

Scotland in the spring and autumn will usually give you plenty good rivers to paddle. You can get lucky anytime of year though.

A good resource for you is http://wheresthewater.com/river-levels/scotland. That lets you know what the rivers are doing, and yes the rivers are graded using the International River Classifications the same as in the US.

In the summer time there are several dam controlled rivers that have scheduled releases you could use.

If you need any info just ask.

Bruce

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by banzer » Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:35 pm

Further to Bruce's answer.

There is good whitewater in England, Scotland and Wales, but it is very rain dependent. It makes sense to primarily head to Scotland, where the mountains are higher, rain is fairly common and there's a lot of whitewater. I would say if you went to Scotland in spring or autumn, make sure they are doing the weekly dam releases on the Garry (grade 2/3) and Moriston (4/4+). These are usually Tuesday for one and Thursday for the other. This is just in case you are unlucky and get a lot of dry weather (in which case, there's great biking!). Another river that is still fun when fairly low is the Etive (3/4/4+). If there is plenty of rain you can choose from a wide variety of runs.

North Wales is similar but the only dam-release option here is the Tryweryn (3) plus a low water run on the Dee at Llangollen. Scotland has more fall-back options if rain is scarce.

If you find yourself heading up the M6 (the main north-south motorway) and there's a bit of water around, there's a couple of nice runs within twenty minutes or so in the Lake District, the Kent and the Leven.

Good luck!
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David Fairweather
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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by David Fairweather » Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:50 pm

That's an interesting one. You can get lucky pretty much any time of year, and equally you get unlucky.

Classes / grades are pretty much the same as the US, although the style of paddling might be pretty different depending on what you are used to.

The most realistic bet might be to couple a UK trip with a spring trip to Somewhere with guaranteed water like
Italy / Switzerland in the spring. If you're coming all the way from the States, then you don't want to miss out on paddling. You could fly into the UK, paddle in Scotland or Wales for a week and then fly to Turin / Geneva / Lyon and get some Springtime Alpine paddling in.

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by David Fairweather » Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:59 pm

Alternatively, the sea kayaking off the UK coast is always world class, regardless of the time of year. If you make the trip and there's no water in the rivers, the sea is always a good option.

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by clarky999 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:12 pm

End of March/April should see at least SOME snowmelt in Scotland, that's about the closest to reliable you'll get for the UK (other than dam release stuff). Guessing it's not really possible for you to book last minute when you see the forecast though...

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by swagstaff » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:51 pm

The climate facts ie average rainfall, sunshine, temps etc for Scotland vary from place to place but clearly show the driest months have been May & April & June http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/ns/print.html
The met office shows the May average for Stornoway is about 60mm and September is almost 120mm.
River flow levels can be found for Scotland on the SEPA website. This also has historical flows and average flow etc
http://www.ceh.ac.uk/data/nrfa/data/tim ... html?15023
As has been said elsewhere the numerous hydro projects also produce dam controlled rivers some of which have reliable kayaker usable releases.
Also check out http://www.wheresthewater.com/
In summary I would opt for September and look for Spring tides which will also provide Tidal Overfalls potential.
WHITEWATER ALL YEAR LONG

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by Dave Manby » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:16 pm

Once upon a time someone used to run a Scottish White Water tour tied in with a distillery tour. So you can visit Scotland - look at the weather forecast and then if no rain predicted go to the distillery and have the next day off!

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by neil.farmer » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:27 pm

Come for the WetWestPaddlefest, a weekend of paddling on the Moriston & Garry, in Scotland. Dam released rivers so reliable & lots of people about. Likely this year to be around 14/15 September.
Neil Farmer (from mobile)

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by banzer » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:58 pm

Yes second that idea for the Paddlefest. Plus autumn is generally a bit wetter than spring. November is technically the wettest month but you might find it a bit cold! I went first week of Nov this year and had a great trip, not even that cold! :-)
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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by maryinoxford » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:23 pm

banzer wrote: November is technically the wettest month but you might find it a bit cold!
You might also be surprised by the short daylight hours, especially in Scotland, depending on where you come from.
Not in Oxford any more...

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by DaveBland » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:33 pm

Let's be honest, the UK is just too unreliable to make a viable paddling-only destination.
Especially if you are travelling from a long distance away.

BUT... if you fancy a fantastic destination for a trip with loads to do – and maybe get some paddling in, if you luck out with the weather – then it rocks.
dave

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by Jim » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:02 pm

DaveBland wrote:Let's be honest, the UK is just too unreliable to make a viable paddling-only destination.
Especially if you are travelling from a long distance away.

BUT... if you fancy a fantastic destination for a trip with loads to do – and maybe get some paddling in, if you luck out with the weather – then it rocks.
What Dave says is true, we don't have a real season here, we paddle when it rains, some years that means we get loads of paddling done mid summer other years the summers are dry and we get it all through the winter. I don't know where you are coming from, but based on what Californian friends tell me is cold, they would probably find our summer paddling towards the bottom end of the temp range they are comfortable with. How do we hack it? damned if I know! Drysuits and lots of insulation mainly.

Impossible to guarantee water in any particular period - even when you use meto history you can still pick a randomly dry year. I also disagree with Clarky about a snowmelt in Scotland in March-April - I've lived here for 14 years and still never seen what might be called a reliable or sustained snowmelt, often the melt season will last 2 or 3 days (usually midweek when we are at work).

On the other hand, there is so much more than river running in the UK that I'm sure you will be able to make an enjoyable holiday, as long as you are flexible about activities, because the truth is, sometimes we get dry spells!

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by John Saunders » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:09 pm

Dave Manby wrote:Once upon a time someone used to run a Scottish White Water tour tied in with a distillery tour. So you can visit Scotland - look at the weather forecast and then if no rain predicted go to the distillery and have the next day off!
http://www.spiritofthespey.co.uk/

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by DaveBland » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:19 pm

Jim wrote:...they would probably find our summer paddling towards the bottom end of the temp range they are comfortable with. How do we hack it? damned if I know! Drysuits and lots of insulation mainly.
Blimey, I think of UK paddling as luxuriously warm these days. [Then again we have got -16C just now.]
From a N.American perspective, I'd sum up UK paddling as "dank and wet", rather than cold. Cali in the spring still can be pretty chilly.
dave

dangerjudy
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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by dangerjudy » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:33 pm

Thanks for the responses!

I think where I'm at (Southeastern US) is similar in terms of not having a consistent time of year for flows. For instance, right now some rain should have already fallen but so far this season everything is dry. We're all kind of going nuts waiting for the rain.
I like the idea of the distillery/boating tour, and the idea of the September paddling festival. I think that's the same weekend as the Gauley festival in West Virginia, which if any of you were looking for an outstanding paddling event and river in the US that's the one I'd recommend the most.
Anyway, maybe I can make it happen. I'm not adverse to dam releases nor class II scenic trips by the way should there be any.

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Ieuan Belshaw
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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by Ieuan Belshaw » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:53 pm

dangerjudy wrote:class II scenic trips by the way should there be any.

You'll be in luck. Quite a few here. The hiking, biking and climbing in Scotland is especially awesome. For a holiday doing different types of sports, the UK is actually not bad :-)
Ieuan :)

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Re: Best time of year to visit Great Britain to kayak?

Post by KenHy » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:09 pm

Scotland in Oct/Nov is fairly reliable - done 3 trips up there now and each of them we got paddling done. Although this year a few things were struggling we still got dam releases (Moriston and Garry), some low volume rivers like the Etive and the Alt Choraian (Sp?) and some hiking thrown into the mix too. And eventually it rained and we got some rivers at a good level!

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