GUIDE TO THE GARBH ALLT
NAME OF RIVER: Garbh Allt
WHERE IS IT?: On the Balmoral Estate in Royal Deeside approximately 3 km from Braemar.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The official access to the estate is over the old Bridge at Invercauld. However this means carrying your boat about 3 km to the get-in. Alternatively, you can travel a short distance down the road to a layby beside an old white iron suspension footbridge (NO 19753 90866). Climb over the gate and follow the track around to the right. You will cross a small burn which is the Garbh Allt. Keep on this track for a few hundred meters until the track forks. Take the left fork. Follow this up alongside the river as it gets steeper and you will come across a small pathway which leads you up the riverbank. This footpath will take you right to the top of the interesting section.
APPROX LENGTH: 2 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 1-3 hours depending on water levels.
ACCESS HASSLES: Normally fine, but it is on the Queen's estate so exercise discretion if you are stopped by any policemen.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Recent rain is required for this stream to be paddleable. If the bottom section looks anything other than empty it will be on. However, if you could easily float down the bottom section then it will be very full on...
Look over the upstream side of the first small bridge you cross as you walk up the estate road. You will see a sheep fence. On river left, there is a gap. If there is adequate water to float a boat through this then the river is quite high. If the ledge is just showing the river will go but be prepared for a scrape. Any lower than this and it is not worth bothering.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: One large fall (15 feet following a steep 10 foot ramp) near the top which is very retentive in high water and a steep rapid with a midstream rock known for pinning spuds.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This is a gem of a river which will make you grin. Well worth the walk in and out if there is even a little bit of water.
An old green iron bridge marks the start of the usually paddled section (NO 19917 89556). It is normal to get in somewhere upstream of this, although this will depend upon how far you want to carry your boat and how much water there is.
The section downstream from the green bridge consists of a big fall followed by a series of rocky drops and ramps with some narrow, steep rapids in between. In high water even the little drops become nasty and while portaging is easy, finding somewhere to get off the river to inspect or portage is not always so easy.
The hardest rapid is a steep drop into a narrow gorge with a boulder lying midstream. This has regularly led to boats being broached in a number of compromising situations.
After the wooden footbridge there is one last straight-forward drop before the river calms down a little. If there is enough water you can have an amusing paddle on down the river from here or alternatively, get out and carry your boat back to the car. If you paddle on down, watch out for the sheep fence on the last bridge!
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kris Waring.
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