NAME OF RIVER: Abhainn an Fhasaigh
An excellent adventure paddle to the middle of nowhere with an expedition feel. Quite a few portages, but also some fantastic whitewater with clean drops and slides in a beautiful secluded place.
WHERE IS IT?: Loch Maree, Wester Ross.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Park at the Beinn Eighe Visitor centre (NH 00165 65021) on the shore of Loch Maree directly opposite the river. It’s a good idea to have an OS map with you to make sure pick out the right set of waterfalls. Paddle across the loch to the outflow of the river (NH 00932 65416). Walk up around 2km until you are on a small track above a sheer sided gorge. In the gorge is a clean fall into an impressive pool which makes for a good place to start.
APPROX LENGTH: 2km whitewater with a 1.5km paddle across loch Maree.
TIME NEEDED: ?
ACCESS HASSLES: None
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs recent rain but holds water relatively well with a big catchment and large feeder loch behind Slioch. Peering across loch Maree is the only way to gauge the level. Ideally you should see about 3 or 4 pieces of white, and the biggest visible fall should be falling in a single narrow plume. We went over once when this fall was in 2 channels and looked much wider and the run was far too big.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Everything. About 1/3rd of the total run Is one long portage. It falls around 150m over a kilometre to give an idea…
This run is an epic adventure and figuring it out yourself is half the fun, so I’ll spare the details. We started at the clean fall mentioned above, the drop above this didn’t seem to go but make up your own mind. Enjoy trying to get down into the gorge and onto the river! This gorge has some nice drops and a few less nice drops, all are worth a look. It ends in a big 2 step slide, we ran the second half but the first looked like a bit of a random line generator with painful consequences. It definitely goes though. The highlight of the run comes next, a superb 4 stage fall dropping about 10m in total. After this is the fall visible from the far side of the loch falling around 7m into a manky slot, make your own mind up. After this is the main portage section which is about 400m long and is obvious on the walk up, but the last fall in this gorge is good fun if you can get down to it. The slot under the footbridge at the end has had trees in it each time I’ve seen it but the final grade 4 rapid is a good end to the run before paddling back across the loch.
There’s more gradient higher up but I have been informed it isn’t worth it by those who have been. If the river is too high the final grade 4 is a big and exciting consolation rapid.
OTHER NOTES: As with many of the hard rivers of the far north, you’re out in the sticks on this one. Don’t mess up and take enough kit to deal with it if you do. The location is pretty exposed and when we did it the paddle back across loch Maree was exciting itself with 6 foot high swell and gale force winds.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Duncan Stewart
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Paddler: Duncan Stewart. Photo: Fraser Gillies.
Paddler: Fraser Gillies. Photo: Duncan Stewart.