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Nithraid 2014

A Public Celebration of the River Nith in Dumfries

September 2014 saw the second running of The Stove Network’s Nithraid. The project has two elements a) ‘dangerous sailing race’ from Solway Firth up the Nith into the centre of Dumfries and b)artworks and interpretative works that invite the public to discover anew the river and the spaces around it while they wait for the boats to arrive.

The stunning weather was a mixed blessing as the sailors ended up having to heroically row or paddle most of the 14 miles upriver. Nithraid organisers apologise for the previous incorrect posting of the results of the 2014 Nithraid. They should read:

PositionNameBoat typeCargoTime
1Roger BlamireWayfarerTobacco02:40:50
2David SleggsGP14Wine02:59:39

The 2014 event should be remembered as extraordinary, not least for the dogged determination of the two crews who persevered to the finish in completely calm weather. Both teams refused assistance and rowed the entire course in the sweltering heat to an heroic finish. All other entrants disqualified themselves in accepting outside or mechanical assistance but distinguish themselves for their efforts under a fierce sun. Other participants include:

 PositionNameBoat typeCargoTime
 n/aJim WhiteCornish CrabberTea02:42:21
 n/aCrawford JohnstoneEnterpriseCinnamon02:47:27
 n/aFrank BirkettMirrorTimber02:55:19
 n/aKKBT Sea CadetsGullChocolate03:00:17
 n/aMark ZygadloWayfarerLemon03:01:39
 n/aSteve CochraneHobby 405Salt03:02:58
 n/aHelen McConnelMirrorSugar03:09:30
 n/aRoss McglennonEnterpriseSlate03:10:37
 n/aAlex RiggGP14Coal03:11:06

Encouraged by the success of the first staging of Nithraid, The Stove Network upped the scale of things for 2014. The ‘Salty Coo’ made a re-appearance with a new salty coat, and was paraded through the streets with a specially assembled Balkan Street Carnival Band and newly commissioned music from local musician Ruth Morris. The car parks beside the river were transformed by an eclectic street market, a scale model of the river with model boats charting the race, skateboarders, BMXers and rollerskaters. Visitors were also offered the chance to make their own Nithraid pewter button and these were cast on site with our bicycle powered foundry – designed and operated by Stove members Katie Anderson and Uula Jero. Also The Stove’s ‘Herald’ Moxie DePaulitte was in attendance with different groups she had been working with and all the background on the ‘why?what?where?who?’ of the Nithraid.

The ‘Salty Coo’ was hoisted aloft on a specially design ‘Coo Delivery Mechanism’ (designed and made by member Mark Zygadlo) and as the boats arrived they deposited their ‘art cargo’ onto the CDM. Josh from the winning boat was given the honour of lowering the Salty Coo and releasing it into the Nith.

Nithraid takes place on the highest tide around the Autumnal Equinox as this ensures sufficient depth of water for the boats to navigate the river. The salt on the Coo celebrates the highest point that salt water comes up the river at high tide (to the Caul below Devorgilla Bridge) and the Coo itself  is released into the river at the spot where livestock traditionally forded the river in crossing between Dumfriesshire and Kirkcudbrightshire.

People lined the Nith up the entire route with 300 at Glencaple and over 4000 in Dock Park, Mill Green and the Whitesands, all enjoying the carnival atmosphere and activities. The feedback has been incredibly positive with people unanimous about the potential of the riverside areas in Dumfries to become a major public meeting space and attraction for the town. Nithraid is part of The Stove Network’s ongoing project to actively engage people in the future of their town by staging events in underused public spaces and encouraging the idea that ‘Dumfries is what we all make together’

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