Whitewater Aptitude is an idea in development to highlight Gavin Hart's skills, adventures and accomplishments with an insight into the thoughts and feeling he has throughout his journeys. As well as this blog please visit his Photography Portfolio Website showcasing his best photography. For shorter more regular updates on Whitewater Aptitude adventures Like it on Facebook or Follow on Twitter. Get in contact via email using gavin@whitewateraptitude.co.uk

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A Year in the South

Locals spot in North Devon
Matt, Top drop of the Morriston
A year has passed since my adventures to the mighty Mekong. After my stint of paddling work and adventures in USA, Japan, Nepal and Laos I decided last year I wanted to stay in the UK for a summer and attempt to bulk up my bank balance again. I was rehired for a instructor position again in North Devon in February 2016 and with great delight I started the job on a part-time contract hoping the rains would come and I would be able to make easy trips to classics like the East Lynn and the Dart.  They didn't come and I spent most of the spring and summer in a surf boat which is awesome but I was pretty lonely most sessions.
 I did manage to get one weekend quality paddling in up at Wet West in September. I got to the Dart once in 2016 when my contract has ended. At the moment I'm very confused as to where I want to be and what I want to do. I do know I still want to be in and out of boats and I hope I can update this again with a quality post before 2018.

Friday, 12 February 2016

LAOS - Mekong River Waterfalling

Mr. Clean
To summarise this was by far the strangest "Paddling trip" I have been on because after a week of being there collectively we didn't want to go paddling. The waterfalls pictured are created by a rock shelf in the Mekong River. The waterfalls are tough to get to and from and the very few rapids there are are no longer then 50m. Get beta info. To enjoy this place fully you have to be a stout master with big balls. Venture there towards the beginning of December smash out the whitewater in two weeks max.

When the work dried up in Nepal I went and spent my last week in Barabhese next to the Bhoti Koshi River. The week gave my paddling partners Jack C and George Y the time to infect my mind with the idea that changing my flights and going boating with them in Laos would be a great way to skip the UK winter.

I was convinced and made the journey with them to South East Asia. After over 24hours of travel,(taxi, flight, taxi, train, x2 trucks, tuc tuc and bus), we arrived at the port of Nakasong where we were greeted by ferry boat drivers demanding three times the set price for a lift to the Island of Don Det, our proposed base. The price was so steep due to the dimming light. Frustrated at having already had to pay double price for all other modes of transport we stuffed all our kit in our boats and got on the water not knowing where we were going, not knowing where the whitewater was and not being able to see a whole lot. It was very gripping.

A week later I'm swimming and clinging onto the side of a very green and slippery cliff trying not to get sucked back into the falls I had just fluffed at the same time I'm trying to get the attention of Jack and George before they paddle off further down river.

With my waterfall confidence blown I then hated the area because the place is a waterfall nirvana.

Mr. Clean

Due to there mostly being waterfalls, which were well at the top of my comfort zone to begin with, I was unable to get my psych back and I spent the rest of my time beasting the flat water, portaging drops and running around on the rocks snapping the shots of George. I'm not going to type any further on this trip as I wish to forget about it and use what is left of the UK wetness to get my whitewater groove back. If you have questions get in contact.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Himalayan Whitewater Challenge 2015

The festival this year was a great success again seeing paddlers from all over the globe attending the event. Even with the India border blockade, the Nepalese paddlers and spectators fueled the party vibe and made it a memorable one.

Largely thanks to Paddle Nepal, the festival held three events. Extreme Slalom, Freestyle and BoaterX. I was able to compete in all, beating my positions gained at the 2014 events. I hope for the 2016 event the freestyle feature comes in stronger so the Nepali paddlers can really show their skill that they often practice whilst safety kayaking!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

#BackOffIndia Nepal Winter 2015

I've been here for a month now and already I can say this year is totally different to my last season here.
The unofficial Indian trade blockade is crippling Nepal's ability to gain valuable resources such as vehicle fuel, cooking gas and certain foods. This is effecting the whole of Nepal from the cities to the mountain communities. The blockade has caused the UK government and other countries travel advisors to put an warning on visiting the country. From my base in Pokhara this is really evident as there is barely any tourists wandering the streets and more importantly not so many tourists coming rafting!
The lack of tourists has only become apparent to me in the last week as up until this point I have been working non stop on trips mostly consisting of UK and international kayakers. Last year I mostly was photographing rafting groups. Photoboating for kayakers, you need to be a lot quicker in all aspects and the faster tempo this year has been a challenge that I have had to adapt to. This year has been about making sure I'm shooting the most favorable rapids and paddling the fast lines. Hopefully the race style photoboating I've been doing will make me stronger for next weeks Himalayan Whitewater Challenge.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

North Devon a Swell end to Summer

Having got back from my Italy Norway adventure mid UK summer season I managed to get myself a end of season job at a Skern Lodge in North Devon. I was employed as a paddlesports and land based activities instructor. Due to the supreme placement of the centre after work I was able to whiz down to the local beach Sandymere, Westward Ho! every other evening to go surf kayaking, swell dependent.
 Before this employment I had played a lot in the surf however this has always been in creekboats or playboats. Luckily Skern Lodge is also a Mega Kayaks demo centre which allowed me to borrow a full carbon Mega Bullit S. Having never used a surf specific boat before the first few waves were very exciting. The speed and distinct difference between front and back rails lead me to throwing some spins I had no intention of pulling off. After some top tips from superior colleges and a better understanding of wave selection I was loving it and hooked. My style is still very much whitewater, stay in your box based, but it was great to keep my paddling fitness fresh. Now i've just got to get used to paddling a whitewater boat again as I'm heading back to work in Nepal until January.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Norway Kajaking

So after having spent far too long in Italy due to a faulty car we ventured to Norway. Here we were met by high water levels, 24hour daylight and even more new paddling friends to talk to.
Phil dropping Penny Drop
Our first region was Voss for the Extreme Sports Week which was easily the best combined sports and music festival I have been to. I cant wait to get to the event again hopefully with more kayak skills and confidence to be a stronger competitor in the weeks two main competitions. I missed out  The Brandseth downhill race, which looked rather intimidating but gave it my all competing in the Strondal BoaterX however I only placed 4th out of 5 in my heat, not enough to advance to the next heats unfortunately. It was an incredible experience to paddle next to some of the top athletes in the world and make a load of new contacts hopefully for some UK paddling.
Driving to Telemark

Sunday, 7 June 2015


For the last month I have been living cheaply and paddling adventurously in the Sesia Valley Italy. The region has been super popular with paddlers due to the friendly water levels, paddling competitions and cheap wine.
Bob on Airplane Drop, Gronda River
Thanks to all my new friends for the support over the past month on and off the water and I hope to paddle with you again soon.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Laser Vision

On February the 9th I went under the laser and had corrective surgery to my eyes. The operation was a complete success and I now have better then 20/20 vision which is going to be super great for paddling and exploring. No more flaf and worry over losing contacts and the high risk of infection.
Unknown paddler - Kimmeridge Bay
 Since having the operation I have been unable to paddle which has been super frustrating. This has given me plenty of time to doddle and surf the net leading to the creation of the River God above. Inspired by the statues seen in temples and shrines I visited in Japan. I created the image using Photoshop and a drawing tablet.

The past weekend I snapped a few shots of some of the waves at Kbay and thankfully today I was given the all clear and am allowed to get back on the water myself. I'll most likely be looking at getting out on the waves of the south coast and if my days off of permit i'll be zooming over to North Devon or possibly even Scotland in early April.

Friday, 2 January 2015

H//-\\PPY NEW YE//-\\R

Catching the end of the Nepal season has forced my paddling skill up and with that my confidence has rocketed. After finishing with Paddle Nepal, I spent a few days personal paddling on the Bhoti Kosi River. The river was a challenge for me in my Dagger RPM but our international team was solid. The team comprised of WWA team member Bob (UK) then Nicole (CAN), Patrick (USA) and the charger Nini (NOR).

Nicole, Gavin, Nini, Bob

Monday, 24 November 2014


Having moved from Japan to Nepal to see out the end of the season, although the water level is dropping, high, could be used to describe many aspects of my current paddling life. Here are a few snaps I've managed to get whilst photo boating for Paddle Nepal, Pokhara.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


I admit the blog has been neglected for the past two months. In Japan water levels finally came up for about 4weeks of high/medium flows. I didnt get any photos as I was often assisting in rafts or had to concentrate on the whitewater rather then photos. Here is a few snaps from my time in this strange and wonderful land.
I love my job
If only we were infact team Pyranha

Boat Pin, Mukawa River

Boat Rescue, Mukawa River, M/H flows.

Pat peaking for the line on Red Bridge Rapid, Mukawa River
Raji ready for high water rafting on the Saru River
Kishor, Ganesh, Ben

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


Month three has come to a close. Hopefully this will bring rain, as we need it badly. My personal paddling time in Japan for the past month has been pretty poor due to low water levels. This is a massive tease as there is a few great venues that I could really do with a session. Plenty of park and huck man-made waterfalls with deep pools, surf waves, holes all that would be a great for pushing my ability.
Biei Creek, Hokkaido
So far the best time I've had, as ever, has been visiting the ocean. The day I had surfing the waves on the Pacific was a real blast. Like normal, at first we got a few strange looks as were foreign and then when I got the kayak out the car the eyebrows and gasps increased. But like usual the Japanese people were friendly and I even got a few "Tsegois" from the surfers I would cruise past. "Tsegois" basically politelly means "Fucking Awesome". Bring on the rain!
Pacific Ocean, Hamaastuma, Hokkaido

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

HOA Extreme Whitewater Challenge

The weekend of the 6th June saw a collection of thrity-one spirited local and international boaters congregate at Hokkaido Outdoor Adventure's base for the annual HOA Extreme Whitewater Challenge. There were four paddling events that took place on the Saru River and a non stop party atmosphere to keep competitors and spectators glowing.
photo credit: Lance PZ
Whitewater Slalom and Down River Race took place on the Saturday.  The Slalom was based on the rapid named First Drop with the main gates hung at the base of the river right shoot making a tricky short ferry glide across the main flow the course was fun for all but the creekboaters dominated. Personally I was given one chance on the course setting a time of 2:31 putting me in 13th place.
The next event, the Down River race, had a mass start of 29 paddlers go all out for roughly 1km this section went through a number of rapids including the Slalom section which lead to some great carnage that smashed my chances of being in the top 10 finishers, again I fought into 13th place at the last rapid. 

Following a night of heavy partying from all, peoples hangovers were washed away by the excitement that was created by the mornings Raft Race. This event allowed anyone to get on the water by borrowing kit from HOA.
 After a cracking lunch of Wazza Burgers the Freestyle Comp took place again on the Saru in the town of Hidaka where Ex-Freestyle champion Eric Southwick built a hole specially for the competition allowing easy access and viewing for all. Being in a creekboat my position for this event was pretty poor and I only scored 10points for a spin... Overall this put my overall standing for the comp at 13th. Thanks to all the new friends I made at the event maybe see you in the future.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Current Location: Hidaka, Hokkaido, Japan

Ohiyo Gozimas! Ive been in Japan a month so the initial shocks of Japanese life have worn off. I am learning to guide whitewater rafts surprisingly quickly and am loving safety kayaking and coaching in my adopted retro Pyranha Micro Bat 230 kayak.
Mukawa, Photo by Hokkaido Rafting
The rivers in the area I am paddling, regularly include the Saru River (Monkey River, there are no monkeys) and the Mukawa. Both are currently at a low water level leading to some super strong eddy lines. The rivers at their lower level are generally grade three runs then with an increase in water there are a number of rapids where the consequence of dodgy lines vastly increases.

Currently my favorite rapid on the River Saru is called First Drop. There are two lines, right, a boof over a retentive hole. Or left, punch through a hole to then boof another retentive hole with your next stroke. If you miss your boof on the left line prepare for a solid beatdown and have your mates get a rope ready, your going to need it. At present I've nailed this move each day, spurred on by being chased by rafts full of screaming Japanese.

All this water time is great for training for my first proper attempt at a whitewater competition. The HOA Extreme Whitewater Challenge, organised by my employer, it sounds like I stand a reasonable chance at winning some shinny kit. It would be great to meet any boating Brits that are in the area, get here for the party!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Suns Origin

First of all I quickly put together a post together that has been posted on RohanTime.com This is Rohan's social page for customers, events and news. I have worked for Rohan for the past 8 months and has helped me to continue to live in the Lake District and now move onto my next adventure...

JAPAN, so if blog posts totally drop off over the next six months its because I am working hard as a trainee Raft Guide for a company called Hokkaido Outdoor Adventure. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


The last month seems to have sped no doubt this was because off of the boating the team has been doing. To start off the North West saw a superb amount of swell come its way so we had a few sessions at Northshore and St.Bees. mostly were very windy but good waves to be had especially by Mike who was on his new long board which due to its size had no trouble catching any wave he wanted as if he had an engine.

Photo of Alex by Bob, Trib into the Rawthey.
 Next the rain came and saw us going a spate run of the Lune where actually most of the rapids were washed out however this lead to the formation of some pretty sweet wave chains and huge areas of boil which is always entertaining. On this day we also did for the first time as a team the middle section of the Rawthey. Now this run was pretty poor in our opinion. It needs a ton more water then guidebook suggests as it was very scrappy in places even though we were paddling it at a "high" level. Look out for a river wide tree that must be portaged about an hour into the river.
Bob running End of the World Rapid, Scottish Leven.
This poor experience was soon forgot about though as we nipped upto Glencoe for the 10th, 11th, 12th to see what Scotland had to offer. This was the first time for me paddling in Scotland and I can easily say it was some of the most challenging, scary, exciting, technical boating I have ever done. We had a great crew of people, Pete, George, Bob, Fiona, James, Sam and myself all were able to push ourselves on the rivers and we all saw our own bit of carnage. Luckily everyone came off easy and managed to only aquire a few solid bumps and bruises which we are all grateful for.
In the super stout SUNNY three days we got on the Orchy, Etive, Alt A'Chaorainn and Scottish Leven all of which I hope to repeat in the future. Anyone that is looking to get up paddling in Scotland I highly recommend getting in touch with a local boating crew as it saves on having to inspect every run and allows you to crack on at a good pace allowing for more rivers!!

Sunday, 16 February 2014


For the last fortnight the crews days off and water levels havent matched up and this prevented us from getting on the water as often as I would have liked to. We did make the effort to try and get on Stonethwaite Beck however we arrived to late and the water had dissippated over the pebble riverbed. So we went and smashed every eddy on the Greta again, this time at a medium level (1m).

I've been using Instagram for the past few months and am causally building up a presence on the platform. Spread the love and tag your quality whitewater shots with @whitewateraptitude . Also check out my followers and following lists for whitewater instagramers.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


The last fortnight has seen some pretty high water levels in the North and the pleasure of being employed full time has lead to our group having to pick and choose our rivers to make the most of it. I made the bad decision to run the River Greta (Keswick, Cumbria) one day which turned out to be a bad choice as levels ended up dropping off by the time we got there and with this so did the play-waves and friendly stoppers disappear. This lead to me being band from picking rivers for the next few trips.
Upper Kisdon Force, River Swale

On the 1st of February we travelled out East to the North Yorkshire Dales initially wanting to get on the River Swale however this ended up being too low to we continued over to the River Tees where we decided to run the section Middleton-on-Tees to Winston Bridge. The section is normally a grade three section but due to the river being on the higher side of high this cranked up the grade with some deadly sized stoppers and the biggest wave chains I have ever paddled the choice of river this time was superb for our group.

Unfortunately no photos from me as I was concentrating on controlling my new boat but I expect to see some content from George. Y as he negotiated the river in his new Wavesport Mobius throwing down freestyle moves on the features that reminded him of Uganda. Jack. C was determined to style every line on every rapid whilst implementing his best practice in leading the team down the river. Bob. A was keen to get in amongst the large moving water too to remind himself of his recent trip to Nepal.

At roughly 26km! the section of river was a great blast and I'd love to do it again in a few weeks time to see how well the control of my new boat has improved and also I intend on having the camera with me as I've set myself the goal now of getting at least on photo of the river we paddle on each trip. The photo above is of Bob on dropping Upper Kisdon Force on the River Swale, he chose to do the river that day and it turned out to be mega low, guess I'm choosing the next river.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

New Year - New Boat

For the past few weeks boating has been slim due to cold weather, work and water levels. The majority of my time has been spent on the River Leven adjusting to my newly purchased new/old boat a Liquid Logic Remix 69. A state of the art specialist river runner the boat has taken me a few weeks to tame having never really paddled a boat with such a rounded hull.

River Sprint
Last Wednesday I was especially pleased with my own performance in the boat when running the Sprint and then on into the Kent with Fiona W and Pete R. Slightly different to usual we paddled a low level Sprint for the first time which was a very cool. The river is quite enclosed with moss covering all rocks and trees making it feel like a proper adventure. After successfully negotiating the rapids the Sprint had to offer we continued to paddle the river which turns relatively flat. The Sprint then joins the Kent. A long flat-water section again sees the river head straight through the centre of Kendal where there are number of small play waves and weirs to inspect. Flat-water is rarely a enjoyable experience and after paddling the flat for roughly and hour this made seeing the normal get on for the Kent a great relief. During the time we had been paddling the flat the river had been rising due to rain and when arriving at Natland Bridge the river is at a healthy medium level (0.74m). This made the final whitewater section to Force Falls a brilliant level for our groups ability. We all made great lines. I was mega pleased with my line off of Force Falls where I'm sure the volume of the Remix in comparison to my Detox was a definite plus and I cannot wait to see where I can get to with this boat.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Air Time

This past week it has been wet in the North. The storms and tides I previously blogged about have changed our favourite surf beach, Silecroft. Masses of sand and pebbles have been moved changing how the waves form and tide surges in an out. This left Tom and I very puzzled the other week when experiencing the new tidal flow as we found ourselves at one point surfing small waves away from shore only to collide with the normal onshore swell. These strange less predictable conditions left us looking back towards the rivers for comfort and luckily its been chucking it down.

Low Force, Upper Tees
To get on the rivers we ventured further afield heading out to the Upper Tees and Upper Swale both known for their waterfalls. Luckily the river gods delivered superb river levels on both days that matched our groups ability. My GoPro accompanied me on both trips and as ever I set it to photo every second mode and left it to do its thing. I'm definitely going to be taking my DSLR to the Swale next time its at a similar level, roughly 0.70m, I'll also have to summon the courage to run the drops first then too to get the shots.
Lower Kisdon Force, Upper Swale
From our later trip to the Swale our return jounrey was also very exciting as we had to negotiate our way back across the Dales in the sudden snow that had fallen.