GUIDE TO THE A'GHAIRBHE
NAME OF RIVER: A'Ghairbe.
WHERE IS IT: Running down to Kinlochewe in Wester Ross (OS Sheets 19 25). This river is mentioned in passing in the Scottish Whitewater guide (p.42), but it gives few details. It runs beside the A896 and much of the length can be seen from the road. Map.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: We got on about 1 km east of Loch Clair (NH006583), porting across the moor from a large layby on the A896. There is a deer fence which extends across the river, so we got on just downstream of this.
The get-out is under the road bridge in Kinlochewe. There is a concrete platform river right with steps leading to a gate beside the bridge. However, since the river runs beside the A896 for most of this stretch, you could get in or out almost anywhere.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 km.
TIME NEEDED: 1.5 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: We ran it the day after the rain stopped after at least a week of wet weather. Passing the same spot 2 days of dry August weather later, we wouldn't have got down it - so it needs wet weather.
GRADING: 2 with some 3.
MAJOR HAZARDS / FALLS: Bit of a gorge around the bridge on a forestry track at NH019592. Here the river is narrower and goes over a series of bed-rock ledges at about 45 debrees to the river course. This makes for a series of falls and sudden changes of direction. At the bottom end of this stretch the whole river falls into a narrow slot which was boiling furiously. It was not holding at all on the day, but looked as if it could be nasty in high flow.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Clear peaty water with a mixture of boulders and bedrock ledges through the spectacular countryside of the Benn Eighe National Nature Reserve. Fairly continuous grade 2 rapids. The general trend of the extremely ancient and hard metamorphic rocks of this area is at about 45 debrees to the river channel, so ledges cutting across the river tend to produce a series of steps causing drops of various sizes followed by a sudden change of direction. Even with the water probably at something like medium level, we scraped a bit getting over some of these ledges.
OTHER NOTES: We actually continued on down to the confluence with Kinlochewe River and then into Loch Maree (about another 4km). This section is flat, though swift flowing.