GUIDE TO THE RIVER MEIG
(Lower Section below Dam)
NAME OF RIVER: Meig.
WHERE IS IT?: Ross-shire, about 30 miles west of Inverness.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: To get to the put in, drive along the A835 and come off at a small village called Marybank. Turn right (signed for Scatwell) and drive west along a minor road for about five miles until you get to the dam (NH 37560 56018) at the second loch (Loch Meig).
The take out is river left when the gorge flattens out, the road being maybe a hundred yards through the trees.
Note that after reaching the get-in, you must drive over the dam and back down the river left side to get to the takeout - park in a convenient layby (NH 38592 56490) when you come out of the trees (~1km).
APPROX LENGTH: 1 km.
TIME NEEDED: First time down, low water, about 90 mins.
ACCESS HASSLES: It's so dam affected that I don't think it's of interest to salmon fisherpeople. Fine, but be discreet at the takeout, apparently the estate owners don't appreciate people getting changed in the passing place but we've never experienced any actual problems.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Can be run in drought conditions. The only thing to worry about is too much water! If you get to the dam and it looks like there’s a reasonable flow coming out, you might want to consider something else.
GRADING: 3+/4 ... add a grade with more than compensation flow!
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: None, but the first drop might be worth looking at. Also a couple of boulder gardens are probable portages at compensation flow (not enough water).
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Lower section (below the Dam) is where the grade 4 action is at. It is an outstanding run with lots of blind corners and tricky little drops. It all goes, but some of it will test your nerve and get you to question the grade.
Very scenic. This is a short, intense run but not as hard as it looks - first time down the deep gorge and inability to inspect most drops will make it fairly intimidating, but at low flow not particularly challenging. Solid grade 3+ boaters will be able to scrape down in one piece. There are more-or-less continuous bedrock rapids, ranging from constrictions to cauldrons and ledge drops - 'proper' creeking! Some boulder gardens may need the occasional short portage - we had two last time - due to the gaps being too tight. The biggest and hardest rapids are fairly obvious - the first rapid which is just after a weir is easier than it looks. The other one worth knowing about is Teacup falls, a large double drop into a very, very sticky hole. It is difficult to spot this from above, so if it looks like the river is dropping away very quickly, get out and have a look.
Further down, there is an amazing rock arch over the river.
Be careful if there is a lot of water about, however, as once on it will be almost impossible to get off, especially in the second half of the gorge where the more difficult drops are. It is possible to walk five minutes down the river right bank from the dam to inspect the first (and hardest) drop - if you like the look of this, you'll love the rest.
OTHER NOTES: Consider also the upper section of the Meig. The bottom section is a bit of a classic. Ideal for very short boats and if you get fed up paddling there is good rock climbing on the gorge walls at the end.
We've run this is just about everything from Saltos to Dominatrix, so long as it's short you'll be fine in low flow.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kirsten Rendle, Dave, Edinburgh University Canoe Club, also Ron Cameron and Dave Aldritt.