Leny Trip Report
(First Published in Nithsdale Canoe Club's newsletter)
We were both "a bit rusty" - well, Tom was probably a bit less rusty than I was, but I was rusty! Or was I just still well-oiled from the excesses of the night before? "Too much time spent sea-paddling" I told myself as I leant the wrong way and the first (grade 1 ish!) wave reached a watery hand from the depths and tried to entice me into an intimate study of the sub-hydrographic environment otherwise known as the river-bed of the Leny, near Callender in Stirlingshire.
Natural skill, superb balance and a well-executed brace avoided the embarrassment of a swim at the start (ok - I punted off the bottom) and we carried on playing for a little bit on the wave below the misty slopes of Ben Ledi on an autumn morning.
We'd met at the take out at Kilmahog, a couple of miles up from Callender. Handy having a hotel there - the Lade Inn - as it's just down from the SCA egress point at the car-park by the bridge over the Leny. Ran the shuttle to launch at the end of Loch Lubnaig and enjoyed the scenery as we paddled down past a few friendly fishermen to the first wave at the bridge at the Ben Ledi car-park (also a good get on point).
The river was at a nice level - if it's low it's a bit bony, but gentler. High, and it can be a deeply spiritual place to be!! (Well, I commune with the Lord when doing it when it's high - - - I guess Rob and Mark would be in their element). It's low if there isn't anything at the Ben Ledi car-park bridge rapid, and it's high if all you have there is a mass of water.
On we went, a few good breakouts and a bit of playing until the river starts to drop a bit and the pace speeds up with a couple of nice little drops, a few Big waves and lots of nice holes - I'm happily bouncing down river-right as Tom is checking the river bottom in a hole in the middle - he rolls superbly and grins with the sort of happy grin which equals "fun".
I'm glad he's still in the boat as the Falls of Leny are rapidly (sorry) approaching and the second of the ruined railway bridges appears thro the hazy mist that my steamed up glasses provide and we break out river right as it seems the better option than running the grade 5 Falls! (If you want to inspect the Falls, break out left and have a look. They need to be high to be good - be wary of running the right hand side as the stopper can be closed and not a nice place)
We portage through the trees keeping the Falls on our left and having a good look as we walk past and put on in the pool at the bottom where the tourists wave and we bask in their admiration (is it admiration - or are they wondering what manner of fool dresses up in black rubber and bounces down a river in a plastic cigar tube?)
Still no sign of the blue paddle we'd been asked to look out for by a paddle-less paddler at the put in and as the river speeds up again we really aren't too interested in looking as we bounce along an increasingly bouncy run to the point where I need a rest and make the excuse of wanting to check the line thro a nice grade 2, then a 3 and then a lovely, seething cauldron of a 4 with a big rock to splat off if you're good enough or crash into like I do!
Tom seal-launches with a certain controlled grace and lurks in a micro eddy as I flop unceremoniously into the water with little or no control, a paddle barely held in one hand and about as much balance as an inebriated penguin checking overflying aircraft. As I'm meant to be leading this little outing, I bounce off into the maelstrom (remember, it's about 2 years since I've paddled rivers) and the boat drops into the hole, sinks and rockets out as I brace right before slipping elegantly into the eddy on the right to watch Tom follow with another of the those Big Grins! I'm feeling more confident now so another couple of strokes sees me back in the breech and over the grade 3, change line and roar down the 4 with it's drop, hard right and hard left to avoid the boulder with it's water pillow and lots of white, seething, bubbly stuff.
Tom follows and the GRIN is even bigger and we're both "whooping" and ""ye-haaing" it up in the sort of style you tell people not to do, but it's FUN and on we go, river centre to miss the trees, nice and bouncy and another nice 2 to another pool where we play the wave before the run down some choppy stuff, under the foot bridge and play for a bit in the waves by the left hand corner.
On again to the point where the river divides in two round an island and we take the right channel as it seems free of stuck trees and at the bottom the flow from the left creates a nice bouncy bit to give a great end to a super little trip! A few hundred meters finds the bridge by the Lade Inn and the egress just below it!
(No sign of the guy's paddle though - it's probably washed up on an island about 500 meters further on - that's where most kit and boats end up if they've been sent on an unsupervised trip of their own.)
Thanks to Tom Dibb, who was the only person able to take up the invite at short notice, or (more likely) the person who didn't know me well enough to think twice about sharing a day on the water with me. Time was about 1.5 hours although you can make it as long as you like if you play all the play spots. I've also done it in 20 mins!
When it's low, it's still good fun and everything drops a grade or so. Nice intro to good water at that level.
By Mike Buckley.