GUIDE TO THE RIVER DEE
(Banchory to Aberdeen)
NAME OF RIVER: Dee (Scotland).
WHERE IS IT?: Flows from Braemar to Aberdeen. OS Map Ref: Sheet No. 37,38,43,44
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The put-in is just above the main road bridge over the Dee in Banchory and involves climbing down the embankment on the north side of the river from the road. Car parking is available about 100m up the road from here in the main Banchory car park.
The takeout in Aberdeen is easily found at the University Boathouse on the south bank of the river. This is a funny looking triangular building usually guarded by a few not too vicious swans and geese. Not quite straightforward as the Boathouse area is not the nicest in the city.
APPROX LENGTH: Unknown.
TIME NEEDED: Unknown.
ACCESS HASSLES: There are often many fishermen on the Dee during the week which apparently costs them a fortune as this is one of the best Salmon fishing rivers in the UK. However, in six years of paddling the river and using some common courtesy, we have never encountered any problems. (Except once scaring off poachers during a night paddle).
For the most part, the landowners seem friendly and as long as you don't cause any damage, there should be little problem with Bivi'ing. You should also be able to gain shelter from the elements easily as the riverbank is almost continually tree-lined.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The river is canoeable all year through as there are numerous tributaries throughout its length which help to keep it flowing even in the height of summer. However, given its size, it is surprisingly susceptible to heavy rainfall, which can bring the river into spate conditions overnight. Once up it would normally take a week or so to return to normal conditions. During high water times, the section from Potarch to Banchory can become a bit hairy, especially for beginners and open boaters with large 7-8 feet standing waves in sections. However, this is fairly uncommon and the river is usually a much more placid animal.
The best times to paddle it I feel would be from mid summer to late Autumn. September and October is my favourite time on this river as the surrounding countryside becomes a myriad of brown, red and green as the trees change colour. It really is quite beautiful at this time of year. Late February to April usually sees the best water levels with melting snow and our usual springtime deluges bringing the river up to quite exciting levels. November and December are often very cold with a biting North wind, which for some reason often seems to blow directly up the river. As the river is quite large, often over 50 metres wide, there is not much shelter and this can lead to unpleasantly cold conditions.
GRADING: 1-2 with a weir.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: A weir.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Below the section of the river down to Banchory, the river settles back into a similar routine to the upper sections as the valley flattens and opens out a bit more.
From here it really is plain sailing down to Aberdeen. The only item of any significance is a small weir about 1 mile from Aberdeen, which can normally be easily run or portaged on either riverbank.
The takeout in Aberdeen is easily found at the University Boat house on the south bank of the river. This is a funny looking triangular building usually guarded by a few not too vicious swans and geese. Shortly after the boathouse is the final bridge before the harbour area where you not only run the risk of the harbourmasters wrath but also the chance of getting in the way of the very big oil tankers which frequent the area.
OTHER NOTES: If like me you are remotely interested in looking at beautiful water features you should take a look at the Rivers Quioch, Garbh Allt and Feugh, all of which have spectacular water features within a mile of their joining the Dee.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kris Waring.