GUIDE TO THE RIVER NORTH ESK
(Tribs to Dalbrack Bridge)
RIVER NAME: North Esk.
WHERE IS IT: Angus in Scotland (40mins north of Dundee at 70mph). Take Aberdeen Road from Dundee and just after Brechin take the turn off for Edzell. Drive through Edzell and you cross the river 2 mins later.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The get out is at Dalbrack Bridge, to get to it cross the river at Gannochy bridge (lower section take-out) and turn left. Head up the glen here for about 20 kilometres and look for a dirty roadsign to Dalbrack pointing down a pretty minor road. The rapid under the bridge is the gauge.
To get to the put-in go back to the main road and continue another 3 km or so to the obvious car park, the road becomes private about 100 yds further and the river has split into 2 streams, one look at the gauging weir upstream of the car park should convince you to get on at the car park.
LENGTH: 3 km.
TIME REQUIRED: 1 hour?
ACCESS: Exact situation unknown, parking is in public laybys so no conflict is envisaged. You do not have vehicular access along private roads in Scotland, but as this one leaves the river just before it becomes private it is not relevant here.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The lower section should be in flood before you even drive up to check this one! See if it looks runnable under Dalbrack bridge, at lower flows the slot is reputed to be a bit nasty, we had plenty of water and there wasn't really a slot!
Kris Waring...(December 2002) 'The pictures show a level which would be pretty high on the lower section, but the upper section holds it and a whole lot more. Last time I was there, the rock on the left side of the last picture was well under water. At this level everything still goes although this last fall becomes mighty sticky. Believe it or not, it really isn't particularly worth it with any less water than in the pictures and you will have a far better time on the lower section.'
GRADING: 3+ (4+)
MAJOR HAZARDS: SCA guide is confusing, in one place it says the final rapid is the hardest, in another it says the penultimate rapid is the hardest. At the level we had the penultimate rapid was 4+ the final only 4, this may change with levels. We were warned about potential tree hazard in some of the slots on this section, but didn't find any slots never mind trees - bear it in mind at lower flows though.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: You get a short warm up before the tributary you get in on meets the main stream, then you are into quite big bouncy grade 3 to 3+ water. The line isn't important but it's fast and furious so perhaps not a great beginners run. Very soon I made the comment "It's steeper than it looks from the road" as we approached the horizon of a steep grade 3+ rapid.
After a few 3+ or maybe grade 4 rapids you reach one the lower half of which is a sloping bedrock step, it is certainly no harder than 4.
Shortly after this is the penultimate rapid, quite long dropping over a couple of sloping bedrock steps, 4+. The photos only show the lower part of the rapid, there is plenty of fun upstream of this! From the eddy below this rapid you notice the bridge. At the level we had the bridge rapid was 4 but the SCA guide seems to suggest it might be harder lower. It's all over far too quickly so either drive to the normal North Esk section, or do this a couple more times!
OTHER NOTES: Needs high water, if you want to run away from the usual North Esk section, do this first to settle your nerves!
CONTRIBUTED BY: Jim Wallis, also Kris Waring.