GUIDE TO THE RIVER TUMMEL
(Lower section, Clunie dam to Loch Faskally)
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.
To reach the put in, take the minor road to Clunie and Foss off the A9 near Pitlochry along the south side of Loch Faskally. Follow this road to Clunie dam (NN 88434 60292). Park in the layby and unload boats. In busy periods (any weekend in the summer) the rafters would appreciate if you moved vehicles back along the road a couple hundred meters to a car park on the uphill side so they can turn the buses and trailers. Walk down to the dam. Climb the gate and head through some trees to a stile. Walk down to the river beside the fishladder. There is a wide rafting get in here, but if this is busy you can walk alongside the fishladder towards the dam and slide in off the last concrete step.
The take out has changed (June 2017), due to the closure of the Clunie Power station picnic site. For those wanting a short shuttle, there is a small car park above the Linn of Tummel (NN 90956 59872) accessed from the river via small, steep, slippery path. A better take out is found just outside Pitlochry on the B8019 st the Loch Dunmore forestry commision car park (NN 92195 59180). There is some space for vehicles near the water's edge, and plenty of parking only a few 100 meters walk away.
APPROX LENGTH: 4km.
TIME NEEDED: 1-2 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: PLEASE SEE TAKE OUT INFO ABOVE. Try and be mindful of others when parking, especially in busy periods. Paddler/Rafter relations can get a bit strained.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Dam release. Release schedule available here, but usually weekends June-September. High water during the winter can trigger emergency releases, though these may be much higher than standard. The outflow is in the middle of the dam at the bottom - there needs to be some water coming out of here for a good level.
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: 2/3 (4), more serious in spate or maintenance release levels
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Linn of Tummel
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the dam the river is easy grade 2, the difficulty slowly increasing. The first grade 3 is Sawmill falls, a long bouncy rapid with an awkward slot at the end. A few more easy rapids follow before the big flat bit at Coronation Bridge - a white suspension bridge. After this flat bit is the run in to the top of the grade 3+ section. Constriction is first up, a tight turn into a narrow slot. After this there is a large eddy on the right to grab any pieces if you’re quick. Straight up next is S bend, a technical rapid with an enormous pool at the bottom to catch any carnage. Inspection/portage is easy on the right. A few more grade 2/3 drops bring you to the Linn of Tummel (grade 4). A double stage fall, it’s easier than it looks. There is a ledge below the second drop on the left, visible when Loch Faskally is low, that should be avoided. Inspection/portage is easy on the right, though beware the very slippery rocks! Rescue at the bottom is from the Loch, so no stress there. The rocks on the left below the Linn give some great cliff jumping opportunities.
Jon Harwell runs the Linn of Tummel on a summer release. Photo by Kirsten Rendle.
At very high levels (when the outflow from the dam is about the height of the dam itself) the river is an incredible blast, though there are no eddies and plenty of enormous holes and tree hazards. Grade about 3/4 (5), the only grade 5 being the Linn.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kirsten Rendle, Janet Moxley, also Donald McAllister, Dave McCraw and Mike Buckley-Jones.
The egress that has historically been used at Clunie Power Station will remain closed to vehicles for the remainder of the summer. Egress may still be taken on foot with a walk up the road to a vehicle (responsibly) parked on the public highway.
The small hard standing above the Linn is unaffected by the works undertaken by SSE and they have confirmed that responsible parking at this location does not concern them at this time. This egress route does involve a steep and at times slippery climb.
The recommended egress point is now on the east shore of Loch Faskally, 500m due east of the Clunie site. There is space for some vehicles by the waters edge (NN 91990, 59706), and plenty of further parking available a few hundred metres up the road at the Forestry Commission car park (Loch Dunmore, site of the 'Enchanted Forest' attraction for those who may know it).
In all it will add about 5 mins drive time to the shuttle, and 500m of flat water paddling to your trip.
There is also some concern regarding access at the top of the river, which currently crosses SSE's compound and land. The potential to construct a new footpath to the river avoiding the dam compound is being investigated by the Rafters Association, SSE & the SCA. In the meantime, it is advised to take access discreetly and responsibly, as any clamp down on access in this location by SSE would make access to the top of the river extremely difficult.