Abhainn Carrann an Iar / Wester Ross Carron

After walking away from an absolutely HUGE River Grudie, by Lochluichart, Torq, Arran and myself headed west to take a trip down the Wester Ross Carron for our first paddle of 2013.

Where’s the Water said the river was on high, but the SEPA guage is in the lower reaches and after a couple of confluences, so high on the guage actually meant a medium.

But, that din’t put a dampner on it and given I’d not been out for a proper paddle in almost 2 months, it proved a good way to get back in the saddle and burn off a few Christmas pounds!

After getting onto the river in a bleak, open and wind/rain-swept head of Glen Carron (about 1km south-west of Loch Sgamhain), we headed off. The river starts relatively narrow and shallow, but picks up speed and volume as the side of the glen close in.

The first feature comes immediately after a small footbridge that spans the flows about 1km north-east of Glencarron Lodge (the bridge is marked on the OS map). The sides of the river rise a little and the river becomes narrower. The fall was easy enough at medium levels – with a wee boof and good forward lean – but I recon it could get quite sticky in higher levels.

The river then opens up again and after about 1km or so you come across a large boulder in the middle of the flow. Easiest route at medium levels is to peel right, but check for logs and branches. We got out to inspect.

The first gorge follows not long after, with closed in sides and lots of small/medium stoppers and wee ledges. Easy enough (probably Grade 3) in medium flows, but I reckon i could get a bit fruity with more water! A nice section of river.

After a couple of 1km, the gorge opens up for a few hundred meters. The second gorge then follows, beginning with a right-angle right-hand bend. The most serious feature of the river is about 50m after this, so it’s wise to get out just before hte second gorge starts to check for trapped trees.

As this feature is a slot, with a right-angle lead in, strainers could be a real hazard. We intended to eddy out just above the drop, but a large tree has fallen into the eddie which makes this all-but impossible…Torq and Arran ended up running it backwards and I somehow managed to spin round just in time – lesson learned!

The rest of the second gorge is much the same as the first, although about half way down a wee trib enters from river right via what seems to be a paddleable 2-3m high fall, if someone gets up there to chainsaw out a trunk. Would be good for some funky headcam action!

Then the gorge then ends, after another kilometer the Allt a’ Chonais enters from the south (river left), then after another couple of km’s the get out is river right directly south of the level crossing near Jerry’s Hostel ()best place to park is Forestry Commission Scotland’s Achnashellach car park).

Anyhow, all-in-all it was a good trip. The main thing, however, to remember on the Wester Ross Carron is that it can get chocked with trees, so always check out the tree main features before running them…and watch out for overhanging rhododendron!

Only one photo, sadly, and it’s of me at the fist feature:


River Etive / Abhainn Èite

Finally, I made it to the River Eitve!

Years of waiting, levels never right, lack of paddle buddies, but today six of us travelled down from Inverness in the glorious Autumn sun to a strangely warm and midge-free Glen Etive.

It was a cracking day and fun was had by all. Some great lines and some, well, lines to forget; I’m thinking Foo rolling at Triple Falls, Stig on (in) Crack of Doom and me on (in) Right Angle. Oh, and Foo breaking a rib on Right Angle…ouch!

Here’s a wee video of our exploits:


River Carron (Easter Ross) / Abhainn Carrann (Rois an Ear)

Ok, so today we had a blast down the Easter Ross Carron. It’s a great section of river, but just a wee bit far from Inverness for those of us used to having things like the Findhorn on our doorstep, so we don’t get up there all that often. On, and for the first time in literally years, 15 Inverness Canoe Club paddlers hit the river; normally we’re pushing hard just to get a quorum these days.

Levels were good; not too scrapy, but not to pushy. A whole lot better than our last visit there in 2011 when the river rose by a few feet within half an hour! And it was sunny to boot with no wind, which is very rare for the Carron when it’s a half decent level for paddling…

Anyhow, only a couple of swims in the first gorge, then after a bit of a slog, we reached Granny’s Hole. Most of us ran the river right route after the bridge, while the others provided safety. Just as well it was well protected, as there were quite a few swimmers and, after doing most of the rapid on its own, a holed Fluid Solo belonging to Foo…cracked from the bow to the cockpit…ouch!!

After the flotsam and jetsam was collected, we pushed on down to the Horseshoe Rapid (not sure if it has a proper name or not). Now, save in high water, this is never the nicest of rapids, but today it was horrible. Not a nice line in sight, but plenty for options for a stiff beating. So, most of us decided to scrape down the river right route; including Matt ‘Super’ Speke, who’s never one to skip a feature unless there’s no option!

Then, after some more flat stuff and minor waves, we reached the gorge at the get-out by the footbridge. Matt, Robert and Me went down the first section to show the rest of the group the lines, and then provided cover. No major incidents at first, then two, sorry, three swims in quick succession; these things are sent to try us!

Anyhow, with all boats emptied and folk ready for the final leg, we pushed down to the last section in the gorge; two stoppers, one narrow and grabby with an overhang and the second steeper with a big tow-back in the right (wrong?!) levels. We spent time checking out the lines and discussing options and scenarios with the group, then cracked on.

Matt, as ever, made it look easy. Robert over-cooked it and forced a roll. I paddled it quite well – even though I say so myself! In fact, everyone gave it a good shot, and we only one swim, which, to be fair, almost resulted in a sideways pin (nasty in that hole), but thankfully all worked out at the 11th hour and Martin manage to wash straight through into the waiting arms of a Palm throwbag.

So, and grand day on the river and great to see so many paddlers out and about, enjoying the fine paddling conditions; roll on the summer!