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News Opportunities Project Updates

Nithraid River Race 2022

Nithraid River Race is back for another year!

On Saturday 13th August 2022, teams of intrepid sailors and coastal rowers are invited to take to the Nith in their vessels to race from Glencaple to Dumfries and back, battling it out for the best time.

Where did it all begin?

Our River Nith connects us all in Nithsdale. Nithraid Festival celebrates and explores our town’s long relationship with the river and its importance to the people and communities it connects – be that the past, present or communities of the future.

Nithraid 2018

The Nith is a tidal river that runs through the historic market town of Dumfries, connecting the town to the sea. In the 18th century, the town and its neighbouring villages of Glencaple and Kingholm Quay became Scotland’s largest and busiest trading ports.

To celebrate this rich history, we hold an annual River Race, which sees teams of coastal rowers, sailing boats and various person-powered vessels race the river, battling for the best time as they make their way to the finish line.

Nithraid 2021

Why take part?

Nithraid is a fun-filled and action-packed event with great memories to be made for those who take part as well as those who watch the race unfold. After all, the race itself isn’t always straight forward! 

Sal Cuddihy, Head of Production for The Stove Network explains what makes Nithraid special:

“It’s great to see the diverse range of boats involved in the race… we’ve got four different categories of race entry, from sailboats, coastal rowing skiffs, rowing skulls and miscellaneous vessels too. Because of the mix of all the different types of boats, they all come in at different times which is so exciting to watch as they battle against each other to move up the river on the tide…

Nithraid 2015

…it’s especially fun to watch them move with the tidal bore as it adds that extra element of challenge. Sometimes, if they don’t get up the river quick enough, it gets harder for them to move with the water as the tide moves back up towards the sea. All these components make the river race a really fun and engaging spectacle – and there’s always an unexpected event, which usually provides some great entertainment!”

Nithraid 2015

If you like a challenge, fancy a day of fun on the Nith and want to get involved, enter the race!

“The River Nith is a defining natural dynamic of our area, and Nithraid is a wonderful celebration of it. The race, over the navigable length of the tidal reach from Glencaple to Dumfries, is open to any non-motorised craft and makes a great spectacle especially from the bridges, and is excellent fun for participants.”
 – River Race Producer, Mark Zygadlo

Nithraid 2016

Applications to enter this year’s Nithraid River Race are now open. Whether you’re a team of coastal rowers, a sailing crew or a single skiff, this is your opportunity to join the Nithraid community and take part in Nithraid 2022!

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News

Nithraid is Back!

Nithraid 2016 image 2
Nithraid 2016 image 1
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This Saturday, September 9th will be our fifth staging of Nithraid, a fun family event that takes place on and around the river. The daring sailing race, starting from the Solway Firth and sailing right up to the River Nith in the centre of Dumfries, is made possible by one of the highest tides of the year.

While waiting for the boats to arrive, join us along the Mill Green, opposite the Whitesands from 12noon for food, music and activities for all the family!

This year, our Project Manager for Nithraid is Stove Curatorial Team Member, Sal Cuddihy. She has been working hard with the rest of the Stove team to put together a very exciting Nithraid this year, with some great new additions to the festival; our friends the Vikings are coming to liven up the banks of the Mill Green with re-enactments and combat displays. And for the first time, we will be continuing the festivities into the evening with some live entertainment in a relaxed atmosphere.

Visitors to Nithraid are invited to join us in a full day of activities. Kicking off the day, the Salty Coo procession will leave from Fountain Square on Dumfries High Street, arriving at the Mill Green at approximately 12.30pm.

This year, Nithraid has a Viking theme, with Longfada Viking Group staging a re-enactment which interprets the lives of people living by the river around 1000 years ago. They will be putting on a Viking Combat display at 1pm, at the Mill Green. Wordsmithcrafts, another Viking themed group, will be working with other local groups from the area, and encouraging ‘have a go’ activities for all the family.

Throughout the day, there will also be art activities and demonstrations for all ages, acoustic music on a hand built stage by emerging artists Blueprint100, food provided by Craig Paterson of Catering Plus, and the dunking of the legendary Salty Coo at 4.45pm, where the winning skipper has the honour of lowering the Coo and releasing her into the river.

Then at 7pm, members of the public are invited back to the Mill Green for ‘Nithraid Night Time’ – live music and spoken word performances, visuals, storytelling, food and campfires!

This year, Nithraid is kindly sponsored by the People’s Project. The People’s Project is a non-profit organisation which was set up in 2008 by Mark Jardine to rekindle the meaning of community in Dumfries and Galloway. The project aims to encourage acts of kindness across the region of Dumfries and Galloway through numerous projects and events. Nithraid has also been generously supported by Holywood Trust, Barfil Trust and many local businesses.

For more information, including how to take part, please visit www.thestove.org/nithraid

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News Project Updates

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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News Project Updates

Crossing the Cree

Suffering from withdrawal symptoms from last weekends Nithraid? Never fear, there is another opportunity to join us as we make the journey to Wigtown Book Festival on Saturday, 27th of September. And we’re not just taking the A75 from Dumfries. Stove members are each making their own journeys the the former county town with its inheritance of martyrdom in Covenanting times and its modern booktown status, once the central crossroads in trading routes and pilgrimage routes through the West of the region.

First off Mark Zygadlo will be hoping for a little more wind than on Nithraid day as he and a flotilla of intrepid sailors make the journey across the Cree from the Ferry Bell at Creetown across the water to the old Wigtown Harbour. This flotilla is being kept to small numbers for safety reasons but if you wish to join the sailors there may still be an additional space left, please get in touch asap to Mark: markzygadlo@btinternet.com

button and uula-2lowres
Maneuvers 1 and 2, the boats are to be launched from a small slipway alongside the A75 before paddling under the road bridge.

Each boat will carry a small cargo of charcoal made at Creetown Primary School with the help of Phoebe and Will Marshall. This will be used to power Uula Jero’s pedal-powered foundry… but more on that later!

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The route follows the Cree before making it’s way up the Bladnoch. The flotilla will be guided by Alan Wykes in his motor who knows the Bladnoch channel.

For more details on the stove network’s Trading Journeys, head across to our project page here

Trading Journeys has been created as part of the Wigtown Book Festival

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News Project Updates

Rushes from Nithraid 2014

Great weather – great people – great town – great river…..art making places. More than 5000 people were on the Whitesands for the Nithraid over Saturday afternoon – even Alex Salmond turned up at one point. Happy Days!

This is a really quick set of images from the day…..more to follow soon

Photos from The Stove Documentation Team (Colin Tennant, Galina Walls, Kim Ayres, Drew Johnstone) and ‘Our D+G’ Facebook Page…thanks all!!

Stove member Mark Zygadlo is the nautical brians behind the Nithraid...simply wuld not happen without him. Who knows he might even win one year ;-)
Stove member Mark Zygadlo is the nautical brians behind the Nithraid…simply would not happen without him. Who knows he might even win one year 😉
Boats ready to go at Carsethorn
Boats ready to go at Carsethorn
Le Mans style racing start
Le Mans style racing start
Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 13.07.19
Off at a terrifying pace….
people watched from vantage points all the way up the 10 mile course
people watched from vantage points all the way up the 10 mile course
Crowds waiting at Whitesands
Crowds waiting at Whitesands
The anticipation was too much for some
The anticipation was too much for some
Meanwhile in town, people were assembling fro the Salty Coo procession
Meanwhile in town, people were assembling fro the Salty Coo procession
The Salty Coo Procession
The Salty Coo Procession
The amazing Balkan Street Carnival Band was led by Ruth Morris (left) who also wrote the music specially for the event
The amazing Balkan Street Carnival Band was led by Ruth Morris (left) who also wrote the music specially for the event
The Salty Coo was extra salty this year
The Salty Coo was extra salty this year
Whilst the Salty Coo was coming down the Vennel, the First Minister arrived at Dervogilla Bridge and crossed to the Whitesands...happy chaos everywhere
Whilst the Salty Coo was coming down the Vennel, the First Minister arrived at Dervogilla Bridge and crossed to the Whitesands…happy chaos everywhere
meanwhile on the Sands
meanwhile on the Sands
Our Market was open ...the Beauty Booth
Our Market was open …the Beauty Booth
Stove Herald Moxie DePaulitte had the scouts on her stall....they were teaching people knots
Stove Herald Moxie DePaulitte had the scouts on her stall….they were teaching people knots
Doonhame Derby Dolls
Doohame Derby Dolls in the market
Uula and Katie's mobile foundry was working overtime to keep up with demand from people wanting to make Nithraid Buttons
Uula and Katie’s mobile foundry was working overtime to keep up with demand from people wanting to make Nithraid Buttons
A freshly made Nithraid button and its maker
A freshly made Nithraid button and its maker
Race tracking central....our very own Will Levi Marshall kept up a commentary throughout the day, with information supplied by the Dumfries and Galloway Radio Unit
Race tracking central….our very own Will Levi Marshall kept up a commentary throughout the day, with information supplied by the Dumfries and Galloway Radio Unit
Whitesands shore - our scale model of the Nith had model boats showing the current standings in the race
Whitesands shore – our scale model of the Nith had model boats showing the current standings in the race
The Wheel of Hope was a chance for people to be part of a collective vision for Scotland
The Wheel of Hope was a chance for people to be part of a collective vision for Scotland
Meanwhile the crowds at Whitesands
Meanwhile the crowds at Whitesands
Salty Coo on CDM
The Salty Coo waited for the boats from its vantage point atop the CDM (Coo Delivery Mechanism)
The winning boat arrived! (Skippered by Roger Blamire)
The winning boat arrived! (Skippered by Roger Blamire)
Each boat carried a piece of cargo up the Nith - they finished the race by delivering their package
Each boat carried a piece of cargo up the Nith – they finished the race by delivering their package
The dunking of the Salty Coo - Josh for the winning boat - with comely assistants Bill Barlow and Robbie Coleman
The dunking of the Salty Coo – Josh for the winning boat – with comely assistants Bill Barlow and Robbie Coleman
A crew of intrepid Nithraiders after finishing
A crew of intrepid Nithraiders after finishing
Salty Coo heads off down the Nith, dissolving as it goes
Salty Coo heads off down the Nith dissolving as it goes
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News Project Updates

The Nithraid

From now till September, The Stove will be inviting people to contribute to an event that celebrates the River Nith’s importance – both historically and today. From its role as a trade route delivering economic lifeblood to Dumfries, to its significance as a conservation area, and to individuals and groups who find peace, tranquility and joy from its banks and passing moments.

Forming part of the Environmental Arts Festival Scotland, The Nithraid will culminate in a daring dinghy race from Carsethorn to the very centre of Dumfries on Saturday 21st September. As the equinox pushes the tide to its annual peak, intrepid sailors will tackle the river head-on, surfing (maybe literally) the incoming tide to reach the finishing line at the Caul in Dumfries, where the salt water and fresh water meet.

When the boats arrive in the town, they will be greeted by a sculptured cow cast in salt and The Stove’s huge fabric banners floating downstream from the Old Bridge, welcoming them to Dumfries with messages from the townspeople. We would like your help writing those messages.

We’ll be decorating banners at community events in August and September and will turn to our social media channels for inspiration too. As we gather words and phrases, we’ll start to build a wall of words. Then our bicycle-powered poetry machine will mix them up and stick them together to form messages for our banners.

The Stove’s community fun day takes place in Lochside on Sunday 18th August and we hope to do a similar event in Dumfries town centre on Tuesday 10th September. The social media initiative will kick off in August. Keep your eyes peeled for #NithRaid on Twitter and Facebook.

Our River Nith; the passenger, the deliverer and the exporter. With untold tales from its length and breadth, and its historical depths. From its rise in the East Ayrshire hills to Ards point, 15 miles south of Dumfries, where it meets the Solway Firth and greets the wider world – connecting the town locally, nationally and globally.