NAME OF RIVER: Meig
WHERE IS IT?: Way up at the head of Strath Conon, northwest of Inverness.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Drive up the road leading to the Meig dam and drive a further 15 miles or so up the glen. You reach a sign near the end of the Loch Beannacharain saying that this is the end of the public road. It is at the very least poor form to drive further. Walk along the road end (NH 226 519) to the end of the loch and then along the landrover track on river left. After a while you will get to a junction and a bridge (NH 202 510). Cross to river right and walk up a small path to above the obvious gorge until the river starts to flatten out (NH 191 504).
APPROX LENGTH: 3km of whitewater with a 4km walk in.
TIME NEEDED: 3 hours including walk in/psyche up time.
ACCESS HASSLES: None, it’s Scotland. Just don’t piss off the locals by driving up the private road.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Big catchment and no hydros yet on this run, so comes up fast and will hold its water for a day at least after rain. We had it fairly low and everything went nicely, but it would get even better the more water you throw at it. If the upper meig is running as you drive past and it looks fun, then the upper upper is probably also going. Alternatively, walk up past the loch to look at the last fall. If this has few rocks showing and looks clean then the river is high. If it looks like a bump and scrape but the river itself has a reasonable flow then it should all be good to go. Don’t be too put off by this drop in lowish water though as everything else is nicer.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Nothing too committing on this one. Take good care on the first fall and the last fall. This run is a fair walk in to a pretty remote glen and you should make sure you have an enough kit to deal with any mishaps. Be very careful in cold weather.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The walk in might be long for the overall amount of whitewater. But it is the most beautiful walk in I’ve ever done, and one of the best sections of whitewater I’ve paddled in Scotland.
The run starts with a bang. An excellent series of Norwegian style slides over about 200m with what could be, at high flows, a few pretty big holes leads to an eddy on river right. It is worth checking this before running the slides as you wouldn’t want to run the next drop by accident. This fall is a tough grade 5 that we called ‘Harambe,’ as it looks a bit like ‘Gorilla’ on the green river narrows but may be more likely to attack a child. It’s probably the hardest fall on the run, dropping about 15 feet through a narrow gap with a rocky landing, and fair amount of the water smashing into a rock on river right. As Thom Brown says no less than 4 times in his official guidebook write-up, it is very technical… Definitely a bit of a body-breaker if you get it wrong and it’s worth remembering you are in the absolute arse end of nowhere on this run.
Some fun read and run water leads to the start of the gorge, obvious from the walk up. The entry drop was fun and relatively simple in low water but the stopper could get sticky, so inspection and safety is probably wise. The rest of the gorge is excellent grade 4, most of which is boat-scoutable, although some of which may be worth scouting depending on the level.
A kilometre of fast-moving but extremely beautiful flat water brings you to the final fall you saw from the walk in. In low water, this was a bit of a bumpy line down the right that I managed to run almost entirely on my head, but Murray rather irritatingly demonstrated that it was possible to clean it. In more water I suspect this would clean up a lot. After this, enjoy the scenic float back to the car.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Duncan Stewart
If you would like to submit updates, new guides or photos, email ukrgb.scotland AT gmail DOT com
All the following photos by Gaëtan Videloup:
Duncan Stewart on the slides.
Murray Peden eddies out on the slides.
Duncan Stewart on the big fall.
Murray Peden entering the gorge.
Murray Peden about to paddle the ledge drop in the gorge.