High in the foothills of the Bluestack mountains you will find one of Donegal’s best loved kayaking secrets, a succession of several rock slides known affectionately as the Slabs. Getting the right water levels to run this section of river is notoriously tricky at the best of times and the Slabs are classed mostly as continues grade 3 white water and up to grade 4 on high water, so a good level of knowledge and ability is required to run this river. Here in this footage we are running the Slabs and the lower part of the river on medium water levels ( grade 3 ) Music is by Speckled Red. Enjoy the ride!
Donegal is a great place to be a kayaker with a huge range of stunning coastline from cliffs to unspoilt offshore islands, pristine beaches and practically hundreds of lakes and fast flowing rivers that makes Donegal a playground for paddlers. It’s also a great place to surf, it has plenty of swell generated by the Atlantic ocean which means lots of waves hitting onto our unspoilt, coastal beaches and reefs. Added to Donegal’s normally mild winters means that you could actually surf all year round.
Can you surf a kayak? You surely can! Any type of kayak can surf, it’s just that some surf a lot better than others. If your kayak is bulky, heavy or has a lot of volume it might be a struggle to get a lot of performance out of it, but it still would be fun to try. The best kayaks to use on the waves are the high tech lightweight composite competition kayaks like the high performance ( HP ) short boat which features a flat bottom sharp rails, short tail and fins and the international class ( IC ) long boats that are hard carving surf machines, but both of these types of kayak take some time to master and are relatively expensive to buy.
If you’re new to surfing and just starting out, it’s a good idea to pick a quiet, safe beach where you won’t get in any other water users way, then it will be easier to stay within your own comfort zone. Have suitable clothing for cold water immersion like a wetsuit, wear a buoyancy aid and a helmet which is a must for kayak surfing
There is a definite history to paddle surfing in Ireland stretching back to the 1980’s with regular competitions taking place involving surfkayakers and waveskis run by the likes of the Ulster Paddlesurf Club and Paddlesurf Ireland with both clubs sending teams and individuals to National and International competitions over the years. The biggest competition in Ireland is the Irish Paddlesurf Open event held every year at Easky (on the left hand reef break), Co. Sligo with paddlesurfers attending from the UK and Europe alongside the best Irish surfers.
This year (2017), Ulster will be the venue for the World Surfkayak Competition (20th-28th October) based in Portrush, involving the best teams and individual kayakers from around the world. The event is being organised by the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland. This event offers a great opportunity to see the finest paddlersurfers in the world competing against one another in both the team and individual heats whilst executing radical and dynamic moves on the waves. At the event three paddlers from Donegal Sea and Surf Paddlers Club (based on the rugged NW coast of Donegal) will be taking part and are being supported by Rapid Kayaking. The three Donegal paddlers are James O’Donnell, Kieran and Denis Mc Dyre. All three have competed in the past at national and international events and we wish them well in their endeavours at the 2017 World Surf Kayak Championships.
Think you have seen all the best bits of Donegal, have you visited the top 10 best places in the county all the hidden gems the secret spots that the tourist media and all the Instagram and Facebook pages keep telling us about.
I dont think so.
I have been exploring the Donegal coastline for nearly 20 years by land and sea, There are still places out there that have only been seen by a handful of people, places that even have yet to appear in photographs.
How come we don’t see them. Well thats mainly due to them being in some cases fairly remote, hard to get to, poor access ( big cliffs and stuff ) and the weather plays a big part in being able to get to them.
I still think it’s worth having a look at them even if you are never able to get to them yourself.