River Spean - The 'Spean Gorge'

Rivers 'near' Fort William
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Mark R
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River Spean - The 'Spean Gorge'

Post by Mark R » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:04 am

Last edited by Mark R on Tue Oct 23, 2018 5:36 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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chrisdickinson
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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Sp

Post by chrisdickinson » Mon Jul 23, 2012 5:29 pm

Log hazards immediately after Fairy Steps rapid, on RHS at next narrowing, always a significant hazard between 1 and 2 on Spean Bridge gauge, have finally gone. Never thought I would see that rocky corner clear of wood but it happened this summer.
Also the log - in the eddy LHS - immediately after last rapid that splits round midstream island, has also gone removing what was a low water hazard. At low flkows the Headbanger siphon is showing larger than ever and this has affected the shape of the jet over the right hand drop. Beware, this is an accident waiting to happen. Some new wood in places so beware the Spean gorge is still a place of change and can throw up the unexpected as I found last week when the rapid exiting the large pool after the constriction took me vertically backwards down into the river bed and stuffed me upside down through a small underwater gap and then jammed me up against the undercut wall. After exiting my jammed boat I found myself working left under water along the impending wall. Something of an unmagical mystery tour! Have paddled this hundreds of times before with no problems. Have fun and take care out there! Chris Dickinson. SCA Adviser Spean
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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Spean Gorge'

Post by paddletastic2 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:42 pm

Where are people getting on these days? I last paddled this 12 months ago and there were lots of no access signs in the car park at Spean Bridge Mill.

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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Sp

Post by Mark Mulrain » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:10 pm

It's Scotland, those signs don't count* ;)



*as long as you leave stuff as you found it etc

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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Sp

Post by chrisdickinson » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:11 pm

The situation is this for Spean Gorge.

At woollen Mill the car park is woollen mill owned. Technically it is private. Car park spaces on far RHS are not I think.
In practice woollen Mill turns a blind eye as long as paddlers don't overfill spaces and leave countless vehicles for too long.
Ironically this means placing more vehicles at the takeout where there are also issues with a certain gentlemen Jim.
At takeout park consideratly and above all don't lean anything on the fence and do not show Jim your bum!! :-)

There are alternatives.

At low water drive to High Bridge Cross roads - s on A82, drive 1 km and carry down through marshy woods, thereby missing out the easy shallow or shingle rapids.

Park in village somewhere and walk to same put in via car park or through grounds of the small Catholic church on Corriechoillie Road.

Warm up by going up Corriechoillie Road to Cour Bridge, walk along woodland path for 200m to confluence, put in there and enjoy very best of middle spean, an extra 1 hour nice paddle including complex 2m (3+) ledge run by different routes and then continue into gorge.

Still one of my favourite runs and still frustrated that SCA has not supported their 20 year river adviser to resolve these access issues once and for all.....but then they took funds from selling the guide that we wrote and spent them eslewhere (unethically) instead of applying them to exactly this kind of access issue. Probably one of the three or four most paddled sections in Scotland. Time to wake up SCA....you are my and other paddlers association, not an adjunct of sports council competition policy only.
Sorry for the rant. :-) Your ever hard working VOLUNTEER river adviser. Chris Dickinson, Level 5 Coach
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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Sp

Post by Eddie Palmer » Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:17 am

The comments about the R. Spean egress, and also the WW Guidebook are unfortunate and misleading. Much work was put in by our last Access Officer, Mike Dales (his SNH funding ran out at end of 2011), on this issue, and since then we have not received any further requests for help from Chris.
The Spean situation was examined by the local Highland Council Access Officer, but the stumbling block was that no landowner local to this spot would countenance selling or giving land for a much-need car park.
The Andy Jackson Access Fund, of which I am a trustee, would consider giving funds for a well worked out project, if approached.
This Fund has had all of the proceeds from 'Scottish Whitewater', and also 'Scottish Canoe Touring' paid directly into the fund's bank account for the past few years from Pesda Press, not a great deal of money, probably £400 - £600 per. half year. We regularly look at small projects - the last two river-based ones being on the R. Spey.
Comments about 'misappropriation' are inappropriate and harmful, as well as untrue

Eddie Palmer, SCA Board Director (Access and Environment)

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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Sp

Post by chrisdickinson » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:21 am

Eddie

I am delighted you are reading this. If you wish to support paddlers interest on this river I would be delighted to talk to you. When I made detailed proposals abou the future of access to the Spean, I was sidelined and nothing happened or was acknowledged. Mike Dales was drafted in to pacify the idiot Jim because I was not prepared to have him tell paddlers wehjat they should do or not do, without involving his emplyer SSE. No local landowners were ever approached apart from Forestry Commission who own no relevant land whatsoever. All the early funds from the guidebook were not given to an access charity as they were supposed to be. I instigated the guidebook project, gifted it to the SCA (I was the one that engaged Pesda) and I had to explain to the SCA that if they did not comply then they were actually committing fraud which would be a police matter. Some of what you claim is untrue. You are being a "company man" involved in damage limitation.

Talk to me please. I know you represent SCA in the way you see fit and think is best. In this case, regards Spean, the issues have been mishandled and I have been sidelined by SCA becasue in past have been the whistleblower that has kept SCA on track to serve real recreational paddlers. I make no apologies for that. I also represent SCA, which IS paddlers, NOT THE EGOS AND SENSIBILITIES OF BOARD MEMBERS OR PAID STAFF. We would be stronger if we worked together on this river.

I have paddled the Spean Gorge perhaps more times than anyone alive and been adviser for quarter of a century. I set up the access committee and gave SCA paid access officials. You inherited my job down the line. I had to resign from it to protect paddlers from Ailsa Spindler (a balloonist and wildfowler and loose cannon) making a paid access post her own by concelaing it from the National Access Officer (me) and the paddling membership. We got Fran, Andy and Mike instead. I was right.

This does not need to be aired in public. I would prefer to talk with you and Access Committe, not about past mistakes, which are substantial, but a pro-active stance for the future backed up by support for the man and the paddlers on the ground. I can't be more magnanimous than that. Let's do it?

I am here at 01320340322 or 07825264922 anytime you want to chat or speanbridge@googlemail.com

Chris Dickinson
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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Sp

Post by Eddie Palmer » Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:27 pm

To all readers - this discussion will take place off-line now, not in public

Eddie Palmer

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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Sp

Post by chrisdickinson » Tue Sep 03, 2013 5:51 pm

Guys and girls,

Eddie has spoken, are we to do as we are told? Replies please? Who does he really think he is? We are debating here the access to one of our most popular rivers and the apparent failure of the SCA and peeople like Eddie to take the issues forward.
I am happy to publish his response here if folks want to read it. It is quite worrying. But no surprise there.....he is now interim Chairman of the SCA Board, god help us all. So we better do what he says and shut up then I suppose. Let me think about this......a Board Chairman, non-elected as far as I know, presumably about to stand, with no interest in the access to the Spean. Resign I say, if nothing else because your demand that this discussion cannot take place is an outrage. Maybe we should be discussing Eddie's suitability to be SCA Chairman of the Board?

Chris Dickinson
Adviser Spean for quarter of a century, member of SCA since 1982ish. Explorer with others of most of the rivers you enjoy today.
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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Sp

Post by Mark Gawler » Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:10 pm

chrisdickinson wrote:The situation is this for Spean Gorge.

At woollen Mill the car park is woollen mill owned. Technically it is private. Car park spaces on far RHS are not I think.
In practice woollen Mill turns a blind eye as long as paddlers don't overfill spaces and leave countless vehicles for too long.
Ironically this means placing more vehicles at the takeout where there are also issues with a certain gentlemen Jim.
At takeout park consideratly and above all don't lean anything on the fence and do not show Jim your bum!! :-)

There are alternatives.

At low water drive to High Bridge Cross roads - s on A82, drive 1 km and carry down through marshy woods, thereby missing out the easy shallow or shingle rapids.

Park in village somewhere and walk to same put in via car park or through grounds of the small Catholic church on Corriechoillie Road.

Warm up by going up Corriechoillie Road to Cour Bridge, walk along woodland path for 200m to confluence, put in there and enjoy very best of middle spean, an extra 1 hour nice paddle including complex 2m (3+) ledge run by different routes and then continue into gorge.
Chris,
Can you supply the OS Grid Refs for the alternative put-ins, etc. we can them marked on a map in the guide. If you have any updates to the guide (or any other guides) please contribute them.

Thank you
Mark Gawler

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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Sp

Post by chrisdickinson » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:37 pm

Latest information on Spean Gorge access points and the changes at headbanger including a photo are available at the link here. http://wwwchrisdickinsondotcom.blogspot ... -2013.html
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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Spean Gorge'

Post by Kizzie_St-As » Fri Apr 29, 2016 4:56 pm

Picture from Jessica Leggatt of a tree hazard in the last rapid (29/04/16). According to Matthew Brook the tree has been there a while and only shows at low water.
Image
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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Spean Gorge'

Post by chrisdickinson » Fri Apr 29, 2016 6:01 pm

There was a bigger log in the eddy on right of picture that has now gone, but there has been wood here for a while requiring care at low levels.
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Re: River Spean - Spean Bridge to Lochy Confluence - The 'Spean Gorge'

Post by chrisdickinson » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:10 am

Update at Spean Gorge April 2017

The siphon/archway on Headbanger drop has now collapsed. This has had the effect of reducing flow on far right side and creating a dangerous V fold against the wall that at least one paddler is reported to have been badly pinned in. The jutting rock at base of the drop on left still remains a hazard. A centre line is most likely safest (but at lowest flows this is now a rock), but be aware of the surging nature of this drop. More water makes it safer and eventually easier as flows fill up the basin below.

The other good news is that Jimmy, at the takeout has sold his house and is no longer there. Since his move there have been no reports to River Adviser of any problems whatsoever. Please continue to change discreetly and avoid leaning stuff on the fence of the power station. Otherwise we appear to be back to pre-Jimmy days when there were also no problems here. Conclusion? Draw your own.

see report for pictures
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