NAME OF RIVER: Divie
WHERE IS IT?: NE Scotland, tributary to the Findhorn. Arrives just below Randolphs Leap.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The best put in is just up from the village of Edinkillie. Cross the bridge going towards Forres and take the first right after the car park going up the hill. Follow the road up under the viaduct and take the first right down a hill, you should be able to see the river on your right hand side. Follow this for maybe 500 meters then park up when you see a path which leads down to the river and a convenient beach (a great access point). Park here (will take 2/3 cars but avoid blocking any field gates/the road (NJ0245 4620). The get out is at the bridge just before you reach the Findhorn (NJ 0033 4982) (on the road just down from the Randolps Leap parking spot).
APPROX LENGTH: 6km?
TIME NEEDED: 2 - 4 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: We were shown the get in by a really nice local farmer, he was keen for us to get paddling! Would be great to look out for him and the locals by not blocking any gates/fields at the get in and keeping the place tidy.
There is an estate road which runs the whole way down the river on river right if you need to get off in an emergency - YOU CAN'T DRIVE DOWN THIS ROAD THOUGH. The road doesn't always run close to the river though and there are lots of fisherman paths.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Looking over the bridge in Edinkillie, you should be able to get a good idea of the flow. You basically want it to look paddleable! The river needs a fair bit of rain to get it going, if the Findhorn Gorge is on a medium/high you may be in luck. Rain on the Dava Moors would be ideal.
The first time we did it (pictures) it was probably as low as you would want to do it. The second time had a fair bit more water and was a fast and furious journey the whole way down, amazing fun.
GRADING: 3/4 (5)
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Falls of Feakirk - a massive three tier waterfall near the end of the trip. From our point of view (although others may argue different) this could only be really paddled at a low level, medium to high levels and it would be a bit insane (no time to recover inbetween three tricky drops).
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Divie is an excellent adventure with lots of blind corners, little drops, interesting gorges and some sticky stoppers! It runs through a fancy estate home which gives a different feel compared to your average paddle.
The river kicks off at the get in with some grade 2 paddling, this increases to 2/3 as you approach the road bridge in Edinkillie. Once past the bridge you will want to get on river left pretty quickly to have a look at the next rapid (grade 4).
This rapid is trickier than it first appears with a funky lead in to a 1 meter drop. There is an undercut rock on river left just above the drop which is at a perfect height to connect nicely with your face (we don't know what happens if you end up going under it). The stopper at the bottom of the drop also looks quite sticky, go right with speed.
The river then swings round a grade 3 s-bend with a hole in the middle before flattening out to give nice grade 2 paddling.
The next time you see the river narrow and a gorge start to appear on the horizon you have reached the first grade 3/4 gorge. It's a small drop into a narrowing, after this eddy hop your way down through waves/holes and when you see a small footbridge above you have another drop. River right is probably a bit better but this drop didn't cause us any bother. If you get out and scout it from the footbridge (which is pretty dodgy itself and the wood broke in places when we crossed it!) it looks harder than it is.
The river now opens up and gives good grade 2 paddling with some fun waves/holes to play with/in. The Dorback Burn will enter the river at some point around now on the left and you will eventually pass the estate house on river right. You can't miss it, it's big!
After you pass the estate house you will be into the best past of the river. It's pretty much all grade 3 read and run with some fun drops and overall just great paddling. About 1/2km down this there is a tree across the whole river (at the time of writing, Nov 2016) which you will not get past and there is a handy backup tree underneath it. It's not hard to get out in time but to paddle into it would not be pleasant so take care.
Not long after after this is a trickier little drop which likes to push you into the wall on river left and try and tip you over. The river continues on after this with more grade 3 fun but you want to be on your guard as the Falls of Feakirk are not far away.
Keep an eye ahead and when you can see a viewing platform in the distance or a medium sized rock with a log balanced on top of it you will want to sort your get out as the Falls are here! Getting out is a pain as you have to slug your way up a muddy hill amongst bushes but it's definitely better than paddling the falls blind. We'd recommend a person walking/climbing/crawling up and then towing the boats up on a line. You can then walk along the path to the viewing platform. Find an eddy pretty earlier on when you can see the viewing platform and only move on if you can see another one you know you can happily make. The last eddy just above the falls is tight and will only take maybe 2 boats. You can't get out on river right as it's just a massive wall.
The Falls of Feakirk are three drops which once committed to all need to be run (Grade 5 - although some may argue grade 6 at medium + flows!). The first one is a left turning bend with a boily mess on river right. It would be fine by itself but if you decide to run the falls you can not screw it up as there is no recovery time between it and the second drop. The second drop has two options, river right definitely looks the way to go but incredibly hard to make as you would have to nail the first drop, break out into a small eddy and then ferry glide out above the drops, punch a small tricky stopper and then take on the drop which has a a nasty looking stopper itself at the bottom.
The river left option wouldn't be hard to make but there is a rock block at the bottom which you can only really see at low flows and you wouldn't want to land on it. There is also an undercut rock on the left at the bottom of this.
If you've somehow negotiated the first two drops you are into the third and final one. It's a funky drop/spout with a massive wall straight ahead of you, so you need to go off going right (big left hand boof!) to avoid it and to add to the excitement there is a nasty looking cave behind the fall.
The Falls would be incredibly hard to protect due to the high sided walls on either side and with the chances of running it well pretty small we could understand if some put this as a high end Grade 5. We didn't run it and probably won't ever... but then again we're not great.
If you walk the falls (as most sane people will do unless you are one of those super gnarly/very talented paddlers) take the steep steps down from the viewing platform to rocks beside a big pool where you can get back on.
The river continues straight away with the final grade 3. A fast shoot into a small stopper which shouldn't cause too many problems if you have a bit of speed. One thing which you need to be aware of is the medium sized tree which runs down the length of the shoot but stops before the bottom of it. While this would cause no issue for the upright boater it could potentially be a problem for a swimmer or upside down paddler... You would have to be doing incredibly well to be swimming by this point though!
You then have some pleasant grade 2/3 all the way to the get out at the road bridge. There is also a nice wee path which leads you back up the road and your car.
OTHER NOTES: An awesome river that probably hasn't be done enough. A real adventure that apart from the first Grade 4 rapid and the Falls isn't that hard, the thing that would intimidate an intermediate paddler is the blind corners. You want to be able to read and run to make the most of it but getting out to look is always an option.
As it isn't often paddled the banks are fairly jungle like so while scouting is always possible, it can be entertaining. If you want to carry on with the fun, paddle straight on into the Findhorn Gorge afterwards which if the Divie is up is pretty much guaranteed to be at a sporting level.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Freddie Kaye, James Stock, Olly Wroe