GUIDE TO THE RIVER MORISTON
(Upper section just below Dundreggan dam)
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: Put in at Dundreggan dam (NH 35733 15646). There is limited parking here depending on forestry activity in the area as there are often timber piles in the layby. Once you have dropped boats you can move cars down to the curve of the old road (NH 36256 15626) that serves as a long layby a few hundred meters downhill. The take out is just down from here at the last rapid.
APPROX LENGTH: Less than 1km.
TIME NEEDED: 20 minutes - 1 hour.
ACCESS HASSLES: No problems reported, BUT the Dam authorities obviously don't like you to wander over their property.
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
GRADING: 4 - 4+
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: It's all falls.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: You’re immediately into the action with Top Drop (4/4+). After a grade 3 lead in, the river splits around a central island. The left channel (grade 4) is the easier and more regularly paddled, a u-shaped drop with various ways to fall off in style, or not. The left wall at the bottom is slightly undercut and the base of the drop is fairly shallow, so a good boof is advisable. The right (grade 4+) has a tricky boof over a recirculating eddy/hole combination, with rescue from the side somewhat difficult. Land right to inspect the right line, break out in the eddy of fear in the central island to inspect the left line best, however once you get there you’re committed to running the drop! You can also inspect this side from a small path that leads out of the layby over the fence before you get on, though it is difficult to view the line well from here.
Gavin Millar on Top Drop. Photo by Kirsten Rendle.
A big pool at the bottom can collect some bits, though if you miss this there’s only a few small grade 3 drops till the river flattens. Next is The Narrows, a grade 3 shoot. The next significant horizon line is Sticky Hole (grade 4), a wide ledge where most of the water runs over the right into a hole and undercut that can recirculate swimmers. Inspect/protect on the right.
Jon Harwell boofs Sticky Hole. Photo by Kirsten Rendle.
A brief respite of flat brings you to the last and longest rapid - Graveyard (grade 4), also known as Cheesegrater. Inspect/protect on the left. Routes are possible on the left down the Cheesegrater slide, the right over a boof ledge and in the centre off another ledge. This leads into another choice of routes over a ledge, through a wave or boof a sticky hole on the right. The rapid then all feeds through several big holes and waves, with many eddys to catch and watch the carnage unfold. Around the S-bend the river flattens in an enormous eddy. Take out on the left and walk up the path to the road. It’s just half a km to the dam to do it all over again!
Graveyard during the 2018 Not-Very-Official Moriston race, with line being styled and not-so-styled. Photo by Kirsten Rendle.
OTHER NOTES: There is a section upstream of the dam that is long and ranges from grade 1 - 3 if you want a bit of exploring. If the dam is releasing then the easier middle and harder lower sections will also be running.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kirsten Rendle, Mark Rainsley, Dave Francis, Ron Cameron, Neil Farmer, the Chuggster and Dave Bradshaw.