GUIDE TO THE RIVER SHIN

NAME OF RIVER: Shin.

WHERE IS IT?: The far North!

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The whole river can be paddled from Lairg (Below Loch Shin dam) to Invershin Power Station but it is probably just as well to put in just above the The Falls of Shin to avoid death by boredom on the upper river. Approach via the B864 which leaves the Bonar Bridge to Lochinver/ Ullapool Rd (A837) at Invershin. You know when you have arrived by the huge cafe (OS ref NH577993) built for tourists come to see the falls. Egress the river at Invershin Power Station.

APPROX LENGTH: 6 miles?

TIME NEEDED: Not long for the Falls, a couple of hours for the whole river.

ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown but see also SCA Access details on Scotland.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Unknown.

GRADING: Grade 3+?

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS:The Falls of Shin.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The whole river can be paddled from Lairg (Below Loch Shin dam) to Invershin Power Station but it is probably just as well to put in just above The Falls of Shin to avoid death by boredom on the upper river.

This really is a quick adrenalin fix for ego trippers. To avoid public humiliation, look at the falls before removing boats from roof. Access to the fall can be gained by following the path down and then climbing over the barriers designed to contain clumsy visitors. Alternatively you can gain access a short distance farther up the road.

The fall itself isn't hard at low to moderate flow (normal). Its technical difficulty is much overstated at grade 5. A good solid grade 3 paddler will be ok. The river turns left and right before rushing down a steep ramp, and over a meter high drop. Watch out for salmon coming up. A couple of half submerged rocks near the top and a big kettle hole eddy on the left could trip up the unwary. Going down the ramp upside down does not bear thinking about. The line is left of centre, to the left of a rooster's tail on the lip. Storey gives it a danger rating of e or f I think. Using his system I'd grade it 3e instead of 5e. Not really the test of manhood that it's cracked up to be.

I don't know of anybody who has done this in big flows. I was told that Jim Gibson threw a bouyancy aid on a line into the slot and it washed straight out so it may not be hazardous.

Exit from the pool is difficult because of the barriers put up to restrain the public. A throw line to drag the boat back up the rocks on the right might be the best way to get a second run.

There are a couple of grade 3 or 4 rapids below the falls and egress at InverShin Power Station is easy.

Photos of the falls

OTHER NOTES: The River Shin (South Sutherland) is described fairly accurately in Terry Storry's guidebook. I think he got his info from an article I did for Canoe Focus on the Averon and Shin about 1986. I don't know if he has paddled the river but I feel he grossly overgrades the fall, although perhaps not the swim-danger factor.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Ron Cameron.

 

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