GUIDE TO THE RIVER TUMMEL
(Dunalastair Water to Loch Tummel)
NAME OF RIVER: Tummel.
WHERE IS IT?: The Tummel is a heavily dammed river that flows into the Tay at Ballinluig. There are several sections between the dams that are paddleable.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in below the dam at Dunalastair reservoir (NN 72153 59145). There is a small layby beside a path that leads down towards the dam. Additional parking is a couple hundred meters up the road in a large layby on the left. The path leads to a locked gate, so you will need to go through/over the fence. Walk down to the fishladder then along the side down to the river. The fishladder used to be paddleable, however the hydro company seem to have made a concerted effort to stop this.
There are two possible take outs:
Take out below the big grade 3+ slide on the left by a small wooden pier. There is “questionable” parking here for one vehicle (NN 74107 59257).
Take out in Tummel Bridge behind the holiday park building (NN 76366 59099). You can usually park in their car park on the upstream side of the building, though it would be best to ask at the bar. If your have a large group, there is a car park a few hundred meters away on the river left side of the road bridge (NN 76268 59234) with plenty of space.
APPROX LENGTH: 2km to the first take out, 4.5km to Tummel Bridge.
TIME NEEDED: 2-3 hours
ACCESS HASSLES: No problems reported.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Dam release. Release schedule available here. High water during the winter can trigger emergency releases, though these may be much higher than standard.
The river can (debatably) be scraped all year round, though without a release the river is more technical and unfriendly to the bottom of your boat.
GRADING: Grade 3(4)
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: A big two stage fall is the hardest on the river and difficult to set safety for.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The first obstacle is a weir with a double hole which goes on the left. As long as you’re pointing forwards and powering there shouldn’t be any issues. Some brilliant grade 3 comes after this with lots of eddy hopping. The river then flattens out for about half a km before the Falls of Tummel (grade 4), the hardest drop on the river. Recognisable by the horizon line and very sharp right turn right after. Inspect/portage on the right. A double stage fall, the second is much bigger than the first and has a big hole at the bottom which tends to backloop the unwary. The pool at the bottom is fairly large, however the hole is near impossible to set any safety for.
A few more grade 3 rapids follow, pool drop style, before the Big Slide (grade 3+). It’s a slide! Be wary of a flipper rock in the middle. It is easy to session this by climbing a short distance up the left bank to a small concrete lade which feeds into the eddy at the top.
Over the final tiny drop and the first take out is on the left. Tummel bridge is a 2.5km paddle away, mostly flat. There is a last fun little grade 2 under the bridge just before the take out. There is a vague path through the trees to the holiday park building, though watch your drysuit on the brambles!
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kirsten Rendle, Simon Dawson.