GUIDE TO THE RIVER ERICHT
NAME OF RIVER: Ericht.
WHERE IS IT?: Blairgowrie
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: To find the takeout, drive up the Glen Shee road (A93) out of Blairgowrie and park in the large public car park (NO 17803 46244) for the walk down to the old mills and Cargill’s Leap. The put is the SCA access point on the old A93 (NO 17418 48389). This is a small turning (NO 17240 48791) off the new road as the banks of earth by the side of the road give way to fields. There used to be an SCA sign on the gate, not sure where this has gone! It is sign posted with a tiny green sign for the "Craighall circular path" walk to Craighall bridge. Drive down the old road until you get to the old layby across from an obviously worn bit under the crash barrier where everyone shoves their boats through.
There is a possible take out in Blairgowrie, however be very aware that this involves portaging the nasty Cargill’s Leap rapid (grade 5) not far below the described take out above.
APPROX LENGTH: 3km.
TIME NEEDED: 1-2 hour.
ACCESS HASSLES: None.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Gauge available here: http://canoescotland.org/where-go/wheres-water
GRADING: Grade 2/3 with some grade 3 drops. At very high levels, the section in Blairgowrie through the mills is big water grade 3/4.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: One weir near the take out. Missing the take out!
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the put in, it’s a long steep walk down a vague path to reach the river. Make your way left a bit as you go down and you should come out at a bend with an impressive house on the cliffs above. This large swirling eddy has some funky whirlpools on river left. Carrying on down, there’s some bouncy grade 2 with occasional good surf waves if you can catch them. The river flattens out as you come out of the gorge and gives a good chance to pick up pieces if needed. This section is fast and continuous in high water with good catch-on-the-fly surf waves.
Some easy shingle rapids lead down under the road bridge into the outskirts of Blairgowrie where the river picks up a bit and there are a few grade 3 drops as you paddle past the old mills. At "very high" on the gauge, this section is continuous grade 3/4 with some big holes to avoid. After you pass under a pipe across the river, the river splits around an island then flattens out considerably. This is the pool above the final weir. You can take out on the left here and walk along a nice path, or run the broken weir (have a look and judge for yourself) and take out immediately downstream of the footbridge on either bank. It’s a steep climb up to the path and you may need to line boats up. Walk up the steps to the takeout car park.
If you are continuing downstream, then there is a nasty undercut-filled grade 5 not far below this footbridge called Cargill’s leap. There is a footpath on the right bank to portage.
OTHER NOTES: The river above this section runs through the deep and sheer sided Craighall Gorge, which has a big unrunnable rapid in the middle that is very difficult and dangerous to portage. At very low summer levels gorge walking from the put in up to the big rapid and back is great fun, though not for the inexperienced.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kirsten Rendle.