GUIDE TO THE RIVER FINDHORN
(Upper Section: Dulsie Bridge to Ardclach)
NAME OF RIVER: Findhorn.
WHERE IS IT?: NE Scotland.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in at Dulsie Bridge either above or below the grade 4 rapid here (NH 93195 41450). There is a convenient layby beside the bridge and some informative tourist boards to read while you’re waiting for the shuttle. To get to the top of the rapid take the tourist path along the top of the gorge and follow around the bank until you reach river level. To put in below, cross the bridge and there is a small path down on the downstream side.
Take out at Ardclach church (NH 95464 45016). To find Ardclach from the layby at Dulsie Bridge, cross the bridge and take the first road on the right. The turn off to Ardclach is not well sign posted but it should be the next right. There is an alternative take out further downstream at Logie bridge on the main A939 (NH 95986 46230) if the road to Ardclach is too icy/snowy.
APPROX LENGTH: 7km (an extra 2km to Logie bridge)
TIME NEEDED: 2-3 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: No winter gritting on the Ardclach take out road! Watch yourselves.
GRADING: 3 (4)
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Findhorn flows through a large open valley over this section providing classic paddling with something for everyone. The first rapid just above Dulsie bridge is one of the more difficult. Either put on just above for a rude awakening or just below if you are too nervous or it is very cold. To put on above a footpath takes you round above the rapid which gives you a good opportunity for inspection. Dulsie rapid is Grade 4. From above the line is obvious, however remember you are very high up and those nice little waves are a lot bigger when you’re in the middle of them! It is possible in low-medium water to scramble around the rocks into the gorge to get a closer look and set up safety/cameras. If you are short of excitement (and braincells) you can always do the bridge jump. I've seen it done and always just stuck with running the rapid.
Paddler Danny Downey, Photo by Billy Nicoll
The valley opens out and provides a nice bimble for a few kilometres nothing too serious here and a good opportunity to practice your moving water skills. After quite a long way the river starts to close in taking a sharp left turn and then dropping away out of sight. Inspect from the right or the last eddy on the left.
This is the start of the Levens Gorge. In high water this is pretty serious and continuous. It is possible to portage the first drop on the right. A river wide ledge best run right to left and after that you decide which way you want to avoid the mid-stream rock. LOOK for yourself, don't take my word for it. At higher water a neat boof line opens on the right. The entertainment continues downstream and round to the right, and here the technicalities ease. Inspection isn't too difficult for all of the Levens Gorge and is possible from your boat for those of you who are in too tight to get out !! There is a fisherman’s path down the right bank.
Top drop of Leven's gorge. Paddler Jen Hartnett, photo by Kirsten Rendle.
Looking down Leven's gorge after the top drop. Paddler Jonny Hawkins, photo by Kirsten Rendle.
The run continues for another couple of kilometres down to the Church which is on the left. Egress here or carry on down to Logie Bridge and take out left before the bridge.
OTHER NOTES: If blessed with high levels the top section is a good addition and gives you a warm up before Dulsie. Other sections to consider are Logie bridge to Randolph's Leap, or Randolph's Leap to Mains of Sluie.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kirsten Rendle, Andy Evans, Frazer Pearce and Dave Francis.
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