GUIDE TO THE RIVER MORISTON
(Lower section in Invermoriston)
NAME OF RIVER: Moriston.
WHERE IS IT?: Up the Great Glen between Fort William and Inverness, flowing into Loch Ness at Invermoriston.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Park in the public car park (NH 42056 16725) in Invermoriston just off the A82. Walk to the river and put in above the old bridge in Invermoriston. There is a path on river right from the bridge up the bank to a convenient eddy where you can chose whether to go left or right. Alternatively you can easily miss this rapid by putting in on river left between the old and new bridges.
The take out is river left (NH 42370 16314) when you reach Loch Ness (marked by concrete hydro structures on the right). There is a small paddler’s path through the trees to a gate. Walk upstream on this path to get back to the top. After a 100 meters or so, at the fork in the path, go right for a shorter walk back to the car park.
APPROX LENGTH: 500m
TIME NEEDED: 20minutes - 1 hour.
ACCESS HASSLES: None.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The dam needs to be releasing. With one dam gate releasing full open, the river has more than enough water. Release dates available here: http://canoescotland.org/where-go/water-releases
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: All of it?
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: I would recommend that you inspect the whole run from the river left path before you get on, especially if you have never run it before. The river is in a deep gorge for two of the drops and it’s near impossible to get out once you’re in. This section is harder and more consequential than the Upper, so if you had difficulties there, maybe give this one a miss.
The river breaks down into 4 rapids:
The Bridge falls (grade 4 or grade 5) are easily inspected from the old bridge. River left, called Headbanger for obvious reasons, (grade 5) is a large drop into a cliff that is fairly undercut. River right (grade 4) is a staircase of drops that are trickier than they look. The drop directly underneath the bridge is very undercut on the left. There is a fairly large pool at the bottom and bank protection of the river right route is easy enough.
John Rothwell getting a clean line on Headbanger. Photo by Kirsten Rendle.
Giles Sheppard paddles past the undercut on the river right route. Photo by Kirsten Rendle.
The Falls of Moriston (grade 4 or grade 4+) can be inspected before you get on from the tourist viewing point. The lead in should not be underestimated and contains some very sticky holes that have some horrific consequences if you swim out. River right down some small slides into a large eddy is the easiest route and from there you can chose your side. River right is “Val Sesia Slide” (grade 4), a simple enough but rather large slide that must be run very far right to avoid a roostertail. River left is “Cannonball” also known as “Gunbarrel” (grade 4+). You’ll understand when you see it. Anything other than upright in your boat is going to hurt a lot. If you’re worried about the hole part way down, well you’ll have enough speed to not even notice it’s there. The pool at the bottom is very big, however any bank protection will be difficult to set up in a useful place. This drop can be lapped by climbing back up the central rock!
Jon Harwell in Gunbarrel. Photo by Kirsten Rendle.
Rollercoaster (grade 4) is somewhat easier and a great bouncy ride down with various lines to choose from. You can inspect this from the cliffs above before you get on or from the right once you’re in the gorge. The final hole is quite sticky! Just below this rapid is a really good pop-out spot for getting air in a creek boat.
Alison Galloway in the middle of Rollercoaster, taken from the cliffs way above. Photo by Kirsten Rendle.
Last rapid (grade 3) is the last hurrah (rock flare anyone?) before Loch Ness.
Now go do it again!
OTHER NOTES: Britain's biggest WW river? Have a look at the pictures and decide for yourself (another contender may be the River Conan). When the dam is releasing, the upper and middle sections will also be running.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kirsten Rendle, Mark Rainsley, Dave Francis, Ron Cameron, Neil Farmer, the Chuggster and Dave Bradshaw.
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