GUIDE TO THE RIVER FINDHORN
(Middle section: Logie Bridge to Randolph's Leap)
NAME OF RIVER: Findhorn.
WHERE IS IT?: NE Scotland.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in either at Ardclach church (NH 95452 45075) or at Logie Bridge (NH 95989 46225). Take out either at Carnage Corner (NH 98635 48819) or at Randolph's Leap (NJ 00017 49535).
Ardclach: From the small village of Ferness, drive north on the A939 to cross the Findhorn at Logie bridge. Take the first left after crossing the river, then follow the signs for Ardclach Belltower. Before you get to the Bell tower go down the hill on a switch back road (which it’s worth noting might not be gritted in winter!) and park at the church. Follow the small path through the field to an eddy.
Logie Bridge: Putting in here misses about 1.5 km of grade 2, but might be better for large groups or if the road to Ardclach is icy/snowy. There is a parking area on river left on the upstream side of the bridge.
Carnage Corner: To find this bridge, turn off the B9007 at Relugas and park at the bridge over the river. The parking here is quite limited.
Randolph’s leap: On the B9007, about a mile after Relugas, the road winds around a sharp bend with a large layby on the inside. Park here. There are tourist paths through the woods leading to the river. From the river, the entrance to Randolph’s leap is a very obvious narrow gap that can be quite challenging to get to, however if you are nervous you can scout the takeout eddy on the shuttle. It’s a bit of a scramble to get up the gorge sides, consider setting up a throwline to haul boats!
APPROX LENGTH: 8 km. Starting at Logie will cut 1.5 km off the start, ending at Carnage Corner will cut 2 km off the end.
TIME NEEDED: 2 hours
ACCESS HASSLES: See the SCA ACCESS NOTES ON SCOTLAND. Please remember the church at the put in is still used, so will be busy on a Sunday morning.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Gauge available here: http://canoescotland.org/where-go/wheres-water
GRADING: 2/3. In high flows it is obviously harder purely due to the amount of water flowing, large standing waves form but generally most rapids wash out.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: None, except getting out before Randolph's Leap.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A very pleasant paddle for novices. Just after the get on is a left hand bend. In low water there is a great shoot for tailies, but with more water this becomes a wave. Well worth some time. Round this corner is a rapid, which sets the pace for the rest of the river with lots of other play spots. In higher flows be careful of pinning on the large boulders at the top of this section. There are a number of other rapids like the first, easy to see from the river with lots of potential for teaching a variety of river skills. After a couple of miles you reach the first bridge. After this bridge is about 500m of flat water followed by a short gradient where the river splits around a rock in the centre of the current. Whilst we have never had a boat pinned on this rock it does have a tendency for tipping the unwary or beaching them on top of it, as it cannot really be seen until you are just coming upon it. Left is best, but when this rock is well covered a big hole is formed. Hard to get into but a great play.
There is now a short section, 500m, of technical (grade 2/3) water with many larger rocks to tip the unwary although these are all obvious. Plenty of play potential here! After this the river eases again for a mile or two until you reach a short gorge. Recognised by a large shale bank on the left and high above it on the skyline, a white cottage. The river does an s-bend here turning right opposite the top of the shale bank. Follow the S-bend to reach a flat pool immediately above the gorge. The gorge (often called 'the Wall of Death', who knows why, or 'Dragons Tooth') is only 100m long and can easily be seen from this pool. It is recommended if you're here after high rain to check that nothing is jammed across the bottom wave this can be done by an experienced paddler eddy hopping down the gorge or from the path on the right hand bank. The recommended route is river right following the main flow of water although if the left route is running this is also safe. Below this is an awesome green wave! This will vary with the height of the water, but I'v spent over an hour surfing hear on occasions. It's wicked fun for all.
Again the river eases for about 1/2 a mile until you reach the second bridge keep your eyes open as “Carnage Corner” precedes the bridge. The river sweeps right and then left the only deep channel is hard left. To go any other route in normal flow will put you over two rock ledges about 2 feet high. In higher flows be careful here as there are large stoppers form in the middle of the river; while the first one probably will not hold you the second one may well do so, as it can have a large tow-back. This is a good place to practice pop-outs; stick your nose into the jet from the deep channel and get vertical! This is also an alternative egress there being two laybys just by the bridge.
Again the river eases for a short while before turning an obvious right then left (fairly sharp). After this left is another rapid which the best line is down the centre. From here follows a series of easy grade 2/3 rapids to the egress above Randolph's Leap. Take out at the large eddy on the right unless you're wanting to shoot the Leap! (grade 4-5). As you walk up to the car, check out the floodstones marking where the water reached in 1829!
OTHER NOTES: That's the end of this wonderful section; keep your eyes open for Otters, Osprey, and Dipper's, all can be seen on this section...pleasant if you like that kind of thing. Other sections to consider are the Upper Section down to Dulsie Bridge, Dulsie Bridge to Logie bridge, or Randolph's Leap to Mains of Sluie.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Dave Francis, Kirsten Rendle, Mark Gawler and Matt Hawkins.
Point is here that the branch is visible at this level but seems stuck and if levels rise, then might then be underwater and not visible. Most folk will exit the Middle section in this eddy or will put in to run Randolph's after an inspection. However, it could be a strainer risk to anyone swimming on the last run into the big eddy. If it moves then possible to be a problem further down. Noticed another couple of large trees lying beached at Randolph's - just waiting for very high water to move them off again. Cheers Paul.