NAME: Averon.

WHERE IS IT?: Alness (Far NE Scotland).

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Drive up the road on the south side of the river following signs for Boath. Park car when you rach a barrier and private road sign. Carry down the road for about 5 mins and put on at NH569747. The access point given in the Terry Storry guide is well below this and misses some nice bits. See below for more details. Egress point: Averon Centre. North bank of river just upstream of bridge in Alness.

APPROX LENGTH: 14 km. Drop 160 metres.

TIME NEEDED: Loch Morie to Newbridge - 2 to 3 hours. Newbridge to Alness - 40 mins with enough water and daylight. Add playtime!

ACCESS HASSLES: Sensitive but much improved. Be nice to fishymen and don't paddle it when low, if only for the sake of your plastic.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Gauge at Alness (on bridge)...

  Upper section Lower Section
  (down to Newbridge. Old A9) Below Newbridge
Possible 2.0+ 1.5+
Pleasant 2.5+ 2.0+
Stimulating 3.0+ 2.5+
Laxative (mildly) 4.0+ 4.0+

The readings are for the gauge on the downstream north pillar of the road bridge in Alness, which is graded in feet and tenths of feet (Hence 2.4 feet etc).

GRADING: It's hard to grade, but realistically never more than 4. Naturally big spate presents a different situation but spates aren't really gradeable...

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Colin Matheson notes (May 1999) that...'there have been a couple of "low level" steel foot bridges installed by the estate on the section between Ardross Castle and the first road bridge. There is ample opportunity to get out and walk round at medium/ high(ish) water levels. I haven't run the river in spate, but the first bridge would certainly spoil your day if it wasn't noticed in time.......!!'

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: River starts at good continuous grade 3 - 4 then flattens out slightly until a castle comes into view. A major drop on a broad right hand bend starts the next harder section - 2km or so of grade 4 - through a picturesque gorge. There is then a longer flat section until the first road bridge comes into view - This makes an alternative egress point. Past this bridge the river cuts into a steeper, tighter gorge which becomes very continuous - but never really desperate! 2 - 3 km or so and then the second road bridge appears - egress as above.

NOTES: This river requires a long drive from normal Scotland locations - but if there has been plenty of rain for a few days it is WELL WORTH it!

Update from Ron Cameron (Jan 7th 2000)...'The following news may be worth circulating. The staff of the Averon Leisure Centre in Alness, a common get out point for trips on the river, have said that they will willingly allow paddlers to use the changing facilities in the centre and that for 50p a shower could be available. This has got to be good news for poor people without dry suits and wimps who don't enjoy stripping in rain swept car parks.

I paddled the river today with 4.2 feet on the top gauge. The top walkway across the river was well submerged and it was possible to paddle straight over it. It looked as if the river had made significant progress in destroying it and it may not be around to annoy us for much longer but in the meantime it is still a serious hazard at all but very high flows. There was no sign of the second, less dangerous, walkway. Perhaps the river has already had it.'

CONTRIBUTED BY: Dave Francis, Colin Matheson and Ron Cameron (SCA Adviser).