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.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: To get to the take out, take the minor road to Clunie and Foss off the A9 near Pitlochry (second right going north after the dual carriageway ends). Drive alongside Loch Faskally until you see the hydro entrance through the concrete arch (you can’t miss it). Turn in here and park in the picnic site at the bottom of the hill (NN 91390 59726) There is an obvious beach here where the rafts get out, or if the car park is full of rafters you can park further along and there are alternate beaches to access the loch.
To reach the put in, drive back up to the road and head up the river. Park in the layby beside Clunie dam (NN 88434 60292) 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.
APPROX LENGTH: 4km.
TIME NEEDED: 1-2 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: 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 brings 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.
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.