Tidal race: UK, Scotland, West Coast, Oban, Loch Etive, Falls of Lora
What's it like
The Falls of Lora are a tidal race with three splendid waves called the 'Forever Wave', the 'Ultimate Wave', and the main wave/hole. The Falls of Lora run with the outgoing tide when all the water accumulated in the Loch Etive during high tide has to squeeze through a constriction to get back to the sea. You need a pretty big tide (read 'spring tide') so that they work properly but keep in mind that there will be a lot of water squeezing down the Falls and there will be some horrible whirlpools behind the main wave! Like many tidal races, the Falls of Lora are for experts only.
The Falls start running about 4 hours after high water. The height difference between high tide and the following low tide has to be more than 3 meters. Come in advance so that you can see the main wave forming, it is really awesome to see. The main wave/hole starts working first. When it gets too huge, the 'Forever Wave' should be working and then the 'Ultimate Wave'. When those two flatten out, it is generally time to go back to the main wave.
The top wave is called the 'Forever Wave' and is considered as the Scotland's Skookumchuck. It is a massive wave with glassy and foamy sections. It can be surfed forever hence the name. Just park in a front surf and watch at the bottom and the seaweeds moving with the flow ...No eddy service for that wave that is located on the top of the Falls. You have to catch it on the fly and carry your boat back up, well worth the effort though. Note that the rocks where you have to carry your boat are sharp and covered with barnacles, mind your feet if barefoot!
Paddler Dave Kwant - Picture reproduced by kind permission of Suzie McNeillage
The 'Ultimate Wave' is located on the surfers right part of the flow and might be the best of the three for dynamic moves. The water is fast, very fast and the shoulders on both sides are perfect to catch some air. There is a little eddy service if you can break out on river left in the whirlpool/suckback and paddle back up in that mess. You can also catch it on the fly when washed out of the 'Forever Wave'.
Paddler Dave Kwant - Pictures reproduced by kind permission of Suzie McNeillage
The main wave stands just below the bridge pile and is more a huge hole with a green shoulder. It can give you really bad beatings unless you are pretty experienced. It starts running gently from a glassy wave to a nice foam pile and then gets steeper and steeper (time to try the two other waves?) before getting easier again at the end of the session. Very good eddy service for that one BUT the whirlpools on the eddy line are massive. Spectacular downtime in old school boats like RPMs is quite common in here. A swim would be a very bad idea, the current is VERY fast and leads right into the sea. There are also reports of nasty metal spikes or scaffolding in the bottom...
How to get there
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Not a lot due to the character of the spot but the Falls of Lora are going to be used for an extreme event (freestyle+creeking).
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