GUIDE TO THE RIVER BRAAN
(Upper Section to Rumbling Bridge)
NAME OF RIVER: Braan
WHERE IS IT?: Perthshire, joining the Tay at Dunkeld
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in at Amulree (NN 90067 36774). There are laybys either side of the road by the old hotel with plenty of room for cars. Easy access to the river is found between the old and new bridges.
For a much shorter trip you can put on at the bridge at NN 95932 39577. This section only includes the gorge at the end.
Take out in a layby about 1km upstream of the Rumbling bridge turn off where the river is close to the road (NN 98984 40566). Mark the take out before you get on as it can be difficult to see from the river.
There is an alternate takeout at a small bridge on a minor road about 1km upstream of this, however the farmer here is extremely angry every time we see him, you have been warned. If you do take out here, get out below the bridge on the left and climb the gate not the fence and park so the turning is not obstructed. Generally on this river it is best to leave as many cars as possible at the top.
APPROX LENGTH: 12km
TIME NEEDED: 3-4 hours. Although the section is long, there are very few flat parts and you will cover ground faster than you might expect.
ACCESS HASSLES: See take out info on the farmer at the bridge.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Rises and falls very quickly - you will need a lot of rain. Gauge available here: http://canoescotland.org/where-go/wheres-water
GRADING: 3(3+) at low-medium flows, 3(4) at high flows.
The gorge gets scary at spate levels, however the upper section from Amulree is runnable at grade 4 until you get to the first (rather low) bridge (NN 91992 37809), then you may as well get out anyway.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Be aware that Rumbling Bridge falls is about 1km below the take out, however this should not cause any problems.
Most of this section is tree lined, be careful of blind corners.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: At Amulree the river starts flat, a good place to admire the scenery. The pace picks up quickly and soon you are into a couple of km of continuous grade 3, very alpine in style. Eddies here are very small! The gradient slackens off and soon you come to the first bridge. This signifies the start of the long relaxing float section in the middle (grade 2).
You pass under a stone bridge, then finally another metal bridge. It’s not far to the gorge from here, a km or so of grade 2 and the first easy drop is on a sharp bend to the right. The next drop (grade 3+ to 4, level dependent) is easily recognised by the large horizon line that you can’t see the bottom of. Inspection is difficult (cliff scrambling on the right, and you'll need to go a long way to see all of the holes you might end up in), but you can boat scout the left line from some small eddies over there in low - medium water. There are other lines in the center and on the right, divided by rocky ledges that become big holes with more water. These lines can be very tight in high water with long surfs in the munchy holes for those who drift off. Murray Peden reports that they once had a 3 person party hole on river right at 1.4 on the gauge. Now you’re into the gorge proper. There are a few more drops from grade 3 up to 4 in high water, with the biggest under the bridge. Eddy hopping is usually the best strategy. Watch out for a tricky hole just after the bridge! A big eddy here usually lets you pick up all the pieces.
Don’t relax too soon as the last rapid (grade 3+) is just round the next corner, a long boulder garden with some big waves. The bottom of this rapid often has fallen trees in the eddies which can make rescues a bit tricky, however it’s no more than grade 2 from here to the take out.
OTHER NOTES: If you like your rapids very scary, there is a grade 5 just above Rumbling bridge, though if you miss your line you better hope your safety crew know what they’re doing!
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kirsten Rendle, Mark Lyons, also Robin Cole and Murray Peden.