My family and I were in a bit of a quandary as to how we would spend our summer holiday this season coming. As the kids are not so young these days I began to plant ideas about an adventure trip where we would spend our time white-water rafting in Perthshire. It wasn’t long before my daughter and 2 sons, Mick 14, Andrea11 and Douglas 9, were convinced that charging down a roaring river in a rubber boat would make for quite a time.

On our departure early Sunday morning on the trip north from Manchester to Kinloch Rannoch, the weather was simply amazing and the predicted forecast called for clear skies and high temperatures for our week’s stay. Upon our arrival Monday morning to the River Tay, the children were simply ecstatic. My wife was still a bit sceptical as she had been forewarned of the chilly temperature of the water.

The meeting area was bustling with activity as rafts were laid out, the provided equipment dispersed and the guide staff gathered the visitors into groups and assigned us to our boats. There being 5 in our party we were privy to our own raft and guide. Our guide was an energetic little lady named Kathy. She was 23 years old, was born in the Netherlands and attended university in Maastricht studying tourism and outdoor recreation. She informed us that she had taken a trip to the United States when she was 17 years of age, where she had taken her first white water rafting trip on the Colorado River and decided right then that being a river guide was what she would spend the rest of her working days doing. Her personality beamed as she guided us through the particulars of navigating the river and stressed the importance of us working as a team and to act quickly on her commands lest the boat capsize and all of us get thrown into the cold water. She and Andrea quickly connected and Mick was smitten with her as was evident by his awkward shyness. Douglas, on the other hand, would not leave her side. We donned the wetsuits over our swim wear along with the life jacket and helmet. Kathy shoved us from the bank with the boys in front, my wife and Andrea in the middle seats and I was alongside our guide.

As we headed south and east down the current of The River Tay the morning sun was getting higher in the sky and it looked to be a promising float. After about 20 minutes of drifting in relatively smooth yet fast current, Kathy announced that we would be experiencing our first set of rapids around the next bend. They were named the Zume Flume, which made Douglas and Andrea laugh, and were categorized as class 3+ rapids. Before rounding the bend we could hear the sound of the water as it smashed on the rocks and whirled from underwater currents created by the sudden drop through the small valley. As we floated around the outcropping of the point, the white water came into view and you could see the excitement blossom on the faces of the children. Kathy instructed all on the right side of the raft to paddle steadily so we would enter the rapid on the left. Douglas, my wife and I followed instructions and the boat responded by moving to port. The front began to rise slowly and then suddenly was pushed skyward, startling the boys a bit and making for a good laugh for the rest of us. The churning water pushed us hard right as Kathy shouted the commands necessary to keep us on path. We picked up speed as the water dropped over a slight waterfall and continued to press us forward through the rapid. After a couple minutes, which seemed far longer, we were safe on the other side and back in the flat, moving current. Kathy commended the kids for following her instructions perfectly and pointed out the strength and confidence Mick displayed under such a grueling test. The poor boy turned crimson red, causing Andrea to poke him teasingly in the back with her paddle.

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