GUIDE TO THE RIVER CARRON
(East Amat to Layby)
NAME OF RIVER: Carron.
WHERE IS IT?:The River Carron flows into the Dornoch Firth at Bonar Bridge North of Inverness. The section described here is the most commonly paddled section which runs from the road bridge where the road on the south side of the valley crosses over to the North Side.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The Put-In is just above the road bridge at East Amat (NH 48628 91561). Upstream from the bridge you will see the first rapid and a larger shelf rapid immediately
downstream of the bridge.
The takeout is is a couple of miles downstream on the south side of the river. As you drive down the glen you pass a school on the right followed by a small layby on the left (NH 5128 9254). The river lies about 50m through the trees down a small path. Note there are 2 falls downstream the get out, so you will need to walk back up to the car (about 1 km). If this is your first time on the river it may be worth a quick walk down to the last fall so you know where to get out when you get there (the car is not very visible from the river).
APPROX LENGTH: 3.5 km.
TIME NEEDED: 2-3 Hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: No problems known. Make sure you close all the gates and don't wander too close to the houses.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Have a look at the rapids above and below the bridge, these are a great indication for the rest of the river. If they look scrapey the rapids will all run but the flat sections might be a drag. If they look really full on you might be better on the Upper section.
GRADING: 4 to 4+ Pool drop for the most part with the exception of one longer rapid in the gorge.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: There is a nasty pothole on river left on the rapid below the bridge at the put-in known as Granny's hole (grade 5+?). This is however, easily avoided down the right but you wouldn't want to find yourself there by mistake. You can walk down and inspect this before getting on. Otherwise, all of the rapids/ drops are easily inspected and portaged as required.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This section of the Carron is a real mix of exciting drops and short rapids that get the adrenaline flowing without ever feeling too committing. All of the rapids and drops are easily scouted and the river has an open and inviting feel. Unfortunately for the more lazy, the rapids are interspersed with some extensive flat water which can become a drag in low water, however, when at it's best they offer a welcome respite.
The first rapid above the bridge is straightforward in all but very low flows when it is generally too shallow to run. Next up is Granny's hole - stick to the right hand channel to avoid the pothole, then choose one of the ledge drops to fall off.
Next up you come across one of the harder sections on the river. Here a really nice rapid culminates in a small horseshoe shaped drop which can be very retentive. This is easily inspected, protected and portaged on the left.
Shortly after this you enter Green Bridge Gorge where the rapids are longer but generally less committing although one rapid on this section does merit a further mention. The river funnels down a drop only a few feet wide while in a mini gorge. This has a very retentive hole at most water levels and often warrants extra protection. It is signified by the presence of the small green bridge over the river and is preceded by a nice bouncy rapid. It is best inspected river left before the preceeding rapid.
After this the river opens out again and the rapids turn more shelf-like in appearance. The first of these is undercut and grabby, although it may clean up at higher flows. All the remaining rapids run OK at most levels with the last and perhaps the most difficult, normally run down the double drop on the left.
Ron Cameron (Jan 2005)...'I notice that you mention a nasty pothole river left just below the new bridge at East Amat. Locally its called "Granny's Hole" This is fun to run when the river is very low when there is a drop of about 2.5m into a churning pothole. The first descent that I know about was by Dominic Serrammi and the late Andy Jackson in 1990. I have only paddled this after prolonged drought when it is exciting but comparatively easy. (grade 4-) Got a picture somewhere but can't find it. I would not recommend this if it has been raining at all! This section of the Carron can all be paddled at low flow when it gets tight and technical.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kris Waring and Kirsten Rendle, also ron Cameron.