River Ettrick - Ettrickbridge to Selkirk

Rivers south of Glasgow
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Mark R
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River Ettrick - Ettrickbridge to Selkirk

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Last edited by Mark R on Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: River Ettrick - Ettrickbridge to Selkirk

Post by Rae1 »

We did this section yesterday, - mid October 2020. We got on below the gorge, as the OH wouldnt be confident of staying upright, and it looks a horrible swim.
We got on just outside the village, 300 metres or so downstream of the bridge. We had checked it out the previous day, there is also access from the Kirk next to the bridge, from there it is a short climb down to the waters edge, so not the best place for those less able.
The get-in to the east of the village is an easy walk through a small section of rough ground. It is just off the road, we asked the houseowner if it would be ok to launch there, they said not a problem, but it wasnt their land.There is little , if any parking at this spot. We dropped the boats there, and left the car in Selkirk.
The water level was very low, 0.4 on the Brockhoperig gauge, that gauge is a long way upstream, but in the same valley, so indicative of levels downstream. From Selkirk bridge, there were no rocks showing, but it was very shallow.
It was just deep enough. We got immovably beached only one, and once I had got out of the boat to pull us free, it was clear we had missed the deeper water, so it would have been possible to get down without dragging the boats at all. Any lower, and it would be a scrape and drag in many places.
The river is really good. It drops a long way - roughly 60 metres in 7 miles. There are rapids pretty much every few hundred metres. I've never been on a river with so many minor rapids. At such a low river level, it wasnt very testing for a competent paddler, it would be good for a beginner trip, but they will be rock hopping all the way down. There are 2 places where I got out to inspect. A small island where the river split, and you couldnt see what is below, from the island it was clear that either side would go, with the left side a little harder due to a drop at the bottom. This would give a big wave in higher water. And the wier. Searching for 'Ettrick Weir' gives few details so we were blind going up to it. It is an easy inspection from the right, where there is a bit of woodland, you can get out, and walk down. It is, at low levels, an easy slide down. It will need inspecting first, as there were trees down all down the river. The far left was the best way down, right has a very rocky bed. The portage is easy enough if it looks horrible at high levels.
And then 'the spikes'. I was very apprehensive about these after reading the guide above. We were hugging the right bank straight after the weir, but saw nothing. Then around a corner, in what I think is a bit more than 500 metres, was a number of bits of metal sticking up on river left, to the middle of the river. They are actually rail lines, that have been embedded into the river bed upright, in what , I presume, was an attempt to create a fish weir (there are a number of fish weirs on the Derbyshire Derwent, fishermen put them in to create pools for the fish to rest in, and make it easier to then catch those fish). At this low level, it was easy to see them. At a 30cm higher level, most of them would be just under the surface, and a horrible place to be caught and tip over.
We got out just after Selkirk bridge, at the park. There is a rock bank reinforcement there, and a small eddy at the start of these rocks, making it an easy scramble up the bank to the park. Further downstream near the swimming pool looked a little harder to get out due to the lack of any eddies.
As a comparison to other rivers we've done, I'd say this is equivalent to the Derbyshire Derwent around Matlock, but, with constant rapids for the 7 miles, rather than the occasional one on the Derwent. At higher levels, it'd be very like the Lower Tryweryn, maybe a little easier and the Washburn too could be a good comparison if it was deeper and faster.
Overall, this is a great trip to try for grade 1- 2 paddling, or a group WW beginners trip with low level water. In higher levels I think it wouldnt be much harder, but faster and more bouncy. 2.5 hours start to finish at this level.

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