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The River Tay is the longest river in
– Tuesday Crianlarich to
Ian and Simon met at my house and we loaded our three opens
on a small trailer and headed up the M6 to
Arriving at Crianlarich we soon found the get in down a small track immediately before the railway bridge. After a little persuading, Ian drove the car and trailer down the track to the rivers edge. Gear and boats were unloaded very quickly; it is very easy to load two dry bags into an open boat and tie them in. While Ian parked the car in the police station car park we were approached by a local character. He and his dog apparently earned their living by panning for gold in the streams around Crainlarich. Apparently small deposits can be found in every river valley around Tyndrum. There’s GOLD in them thar hills! After discussing our plans we were off, hoping to get to one of the Lochs to camp before nightfall.
After a few miles of gentle flowing stream we passed the castle on Loch Dochart and entered Loch Lubhair where we found a campsite on a small semi-island at the south end of the lake. We soon had the tents and tarp up and Simon set about lighting a fire. With a few notes of guidance from Simon, wild mushrooms were added to the evening meal of Thai green curry and rice. Ian and Keith both had tents but Simon was to bivi out under a tarpaulin. The midges, although present were not too bad, especially given that it was late August – no doubt kept at bay by the rain and smoke from the fire. Simon “Well as long as you’re appy!!
Day 2 – Wednesday Loch Lubhair to the Southern end of Loch Tay
It rained constantly over night and in the morning the river was noticeably higher. This was good news as it would help us swiftly on our way. After smaller rapids and a few bridges we came across the first major drop, Corriechaoroch rapids. This was a technical grade 3 with two rocks in the middle that could easily broach an open canoe. Having survived this rapid we enjoyed the grade 2`s below with shoot after shoot and a few drops thrown in for fun (Lix rapids). Simon “Well as long as you’re appy!! As the valley deepened and became more wooded we had to negotiate a rope across the river at neck height near some building work.
We got out at Kilin just above the “Falls of Dochart”. There is a war memorial just before a steep wall on river right which depicts the run in to the rapids. These are about 200m long and would provide good fun for kayaks. We did not want to risk damage to our boats (another group had pinned their open midstream while lining down under the bridge) so we portaged around the main falls to the bridge. Simon “Well as long as you’re appy!! During the portage a guy started chatting to us and said “I thought it was 3 men in a boat but you `re 3 men and 3 boats!”
Not wanting to carry down the main street and make the portage nearly one kilometre long we put in just under the bridge via some rough land on the river left. After a short lunch we paddled, lined and walked our canoes down the 200m of rapids below the bridge. One drop had a noticeable stopper and strong tow back so we all lined down a small ramp on the left.
At the old railway bridge the river flows more sedately into
Loch Tay. By now it was about
2:30pm. We paddled in perfect
conditions down to a small rocky island on the left bank and took a second,
late lunch break (very late as it was now around 4:00pm). Suitably refreshed with tea and coffee
we paddled on towards to bottom of the
Within sight of the bridge at the end of the
– Thursday Loch
It took less than an hour to paddle across to the bridge and onto the River Tay itself. A grand hotel overlooks the river here and there is a large caravan park on the left bank. The river is relatively swift and numerous rapids kept our interest on the way down to Aberfeldy. There was nothing more than grade 2 (Chinese bridge rapids (Grade 2) but a very enjoyable section of river. We had lunch on a small shingle bank just below Aberfeldy bridge.
The river began to flatten out after Aberfeldy but still had
numerous rapids and good scenery.
It was not long before we came across a group of students and kayak
instructors having lunch at the top of the white water section of the
A quick inspection and decision on route choice at the top and we were off. Simon drifted a little close to a large tree on the top slot but survived the scare and paddled down to break out neatly in an eddie marked by an upstream gate. We bailed and sponged out any water taken on board and headed down through the bridge to the large natural weir below. We shot this on river right through a reasonably sized stopper and again sponged out in the eddie below.
From here on down it was grade 1-2 with
more and more fishermen learning the dark art of fly fishing. After a few miles we came across
evidence of beaver activity, gnawing at trees to fell them, bark being stripped
for food etc. Our wilderness guide
Simon informed us that they were no ordinary beaver but a European variety that
had been reintroduced to areas of
Did you know that beavers are
different species of beaver? There are two species of beaver: the North American
beaver (Castor canadensis) and the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber).
The Eurasian beaver is native to the
Why did beavers become extinct? Until the 16th
Century, beavers lived throughout
How do beavers benefit the environment? Beavers are nature’s top engineers. They are tree felling, dam building champions and a keystone species; that is, one which affects the survival and abundance of other wildlife in the community in which it lives. Beavers create ponds and wetlands which attract other species, provide a food source for others, and even help improve water quality.
How big are Eurasian beavers? Beavers are approximately the size of a tubby spaniel (25–30 kg), measuring 70–100 cm in length. Unusually for mammals, the female beaver is the same size or larger than males of the same age. They are uniquely adapted for a semi-aquatic lifestyle, with a sleek waterproof coat, large flattened muscular tail and webbed hind feet to provide propulsion underwater.
At what age do beavers start breeding and do they hibernate? Beavers can live for 10–15 years, they mate for life and breed from the age of two, with one litter of 2–3 young (kits) each year. They are highly territorial and live in family groups, mainly in freshwater lochs and slow flowing rivers and burns. Beavers are crepuscular, rather than nocturnal, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk throughout the year. They do not hibernate.
What do beavers eat? Beavers are completely vegetarian. They do not eat fish but instead prefer to munch on aquatic plants, grasses and shrubs during the summer months and woody plants in winter. Beavers will often store food underwater so that they can access it if the water freezes over. In woodlands, beavers help to stimulate new growth by gnawing on tree stems and coppicing. This helps to breathe new life into tired forests and creates a diverse age range of trees which greatly benefits woodland management.
Do beavers build dams? Beavers sometimes build dams in rivers and construct lodges in the ponds created by their dams. Both beaver dams and lodges demonstrate remarkable architectural and water engineering talents. The dammed water forms a secure area around the lodge whilst also attracting other species such as frogs, toads, water voles, otters, dragonflies, birds and fish
After a few hours paddling we started to look for a campsite for the night. At the confluence of the River Tummel, Logierat, we spotted a good campsite under some trees behind a small sandy beach. We had seen several boats with “Ghillies” ferrying clients back from their days fishing and assumed that most were winding up for the day; it was now 5:30pm. We erected the cooking tarp, two tents and Simon’s tarp for sleeping under. We were then approached by a Ghillie, Jim McEwen from the local estate. “You can’t camp here, its private land”. He was so nice about it and very quietly spoken that although we tried to argue the point it was almost impossible. He rang his boss to tell him that a group of canoeist had set up camp on his beat. He redirected us to a site past the next railway bridge, a grey boat and by a deep fishing pool that was not used currently. Although tired and looking for a rest we started to pack up and make our way downstream. Simon “Well as long as you’re appy!! After about 40 minutes we came across the grey fishing boat and deep pool at Dowally and landed on a small shingle beach. We camped between some young silver birch trees on some long meadow grass (we flattened this using a canoe).
Although this site had no view and was very close to the A9 and had traffic noise late into the night, it was not too bad. After cooking our evening meal we started to pack up for a well earned night’s kip. Simon then spotted an otter eating a fish on the stone bank that we had landed on. We watched while he finished his meal before going back into the water and swimming away.
– Friday Dowally (6km above Dunkeld) to
The next day we paddled down to Dunkeld in a little less
than an hour. The valley sides
started to close in and become wooded on both sides. This was a beautiful stretch of river
and had a very nice hotel and immaculate lawns on the left bank. We then paddled on round many meandering
bends to cover the 25km to
From above the fall, from left to right, the shoots are:
Below here we met two kayakers in red creek boats. We paddled over the main shoot on Stanley weir before they got on. Although this is also grade 3 in high water it was relatively easy with just a tail of moving water. The rapids below gave some more sport; some of the wave trains were quite large and some water sloshed over the gunwales (Thistlebrig Rapid grade 3). We stopped for an hour below the last main rapid to have a brew and relax a little in the last of the afternoon’s sun. Simon “Well as long as you’re appy!!
We then paddled down
The plan was to leave at 8:00am so Ian got up at
6:30am!!! We were away by 7:15 and
paddled and drifted the short distance down to our egress point just before the
The Scottish City Link bus journey from
Ian returned at 1:12pm with the car and trailer and we loaded our gear and headed south. On the way home we compiled our list of most desirable (source to sea) canoe touring and expedition rivers. They are ranked in order of white water difficulty. How many will we be able to tick off in the next few years.
1/ The Scottish Dee
2/ The River
3/ The River Wye
4/ The Welsh Dee
5/ The River
6/ The River Eden
7/ The River Spey
8/ The River Seven
9/ The Great
10/ The River
Ian Bell, Simon (“Well as long as you’re appy!!) Howlett and Keith Steer More Photos………..