GUIDE TO EUCHAN WATER
NAME OF RIVER: Euchan (Possibly derived from the saying you can paddle it if you want to but I'm staying well clear) Water.
WHERE IS IT?: The Euchan flows off the North East tip of the Galloways to join the Nith at Sanquhar, thats 26 miles North of Dumfries and 30 miles South of Kilmarnock. Its almost opposite the Crawick Water and makes a good (though harder) companion to it.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: There are a few options here. From the North (Kilmarnock) end of Sanquhar take the minor road by the petrol station and cross the Nith. Turn left for Euchan Bridge (the last egress point) or go straight on for Glen Euchan. Driving up the glen you pass Old Barr farm, there is a possible egress point across the field just above it, park on the right.
Access or egress is also possible at the bridge above Eucan Cottage (next track after the cottage), Glenmaddie (another inspiring name) or the old water works. At high water levels try driving as far as you can and carrying your boats on for another kilometre.
APPROX LENGTH: 6 km.
TIME NEEDED: 3 Hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: Good. The local angling groups stock this burn with salmon to supply the Nith but very seldom fish the Euchan itself. Any encounters we have had with local residents have been very friendly.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Look upstream over Euchan Bridge. The ideal level is for all but one of the midstream rocks to be covered. If all rocks are covered take care.
GRADING: 4 (5).
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The main hazard is the water level, if you catch it when its too high or if it rises while you are there things can get hairy, hence its bad reputation.
In the upper gorge there is one drop usually run by a chicken shoot on the left (look for fallen tree on R bank above) and one twisting, shallow drop usually portaged (look for a river wide ledge followed by a split into two channels, take the calmer L channel).
The lower gorge contains two drops that are generally too shallow to run and near its end is a sump created by tree stumps lodged in a narrow gap (easily spotted). The biggest hazard is a tempting, narrow section leading to a large stepped fall that slams straight into a rock wall. If you can find the small brick hut on the left bank, proceed with caution and portage on the R bank. Alternatively this can make a good egress point as it is close to the road, cross a field via two gates. Park just above Old Barr farm. Eucan fall lies after the end of the lower gorge and is easily spotted from above.
Trees are a problem on some parts of the lower gorge and occasionally on the upper.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: If you can catch it at the right level this is a great wee river and can be divided into four sections.
The top of the glen down to the water works is open and bouldery grade 3 and is best at high levels. If you do carry your boats beyond Glenglass there are a few harder bits worth inspecting on the way.
The upper gorge runs from the water works to Glenmaddie and offers fantastic, steep grade 3+ or 4 readnrun water. Watch out for the portage mentioned above, it has been run but is very shallow.
From Glenmaddie to the next bridge the river is a fun grade 3.
The final section starts with a couple of technical rapids leading to the entry drop to the lower gorge. This has shallow rock at its base and is best portaged right.
Various grade 4 drops follow (including one more shallow one) until the brick hut can be seen on the left bank. As mentioned, take great care to find the big fall before it finds you. A narrow, twisting channel leads to a left bend (too late) and the drop. At high flows it might be possible for the brave to run this straight down the middle but unfortunately most of the water drops to the right and slams into a wall.
After this are a few more drops, including the sump, and then the gorge opens out (note the change of rock type).
Not far below is Euchan Fall (grade 4), a popular beauty spot and easily inspected. When approaching Euchan Bridge it is best to egress on the left bank well above to avoid an awkward scramble up the bank.
OTHER NOTES: At the time of writing there is a proposal to dam this river and its tributaries and take almost all of the water for a small hydro scheme. This would be a great shame as...
1. Its a great paddling river.
2. Water extraction would be detrimental to the ecology.
3. The glen is used by walkers and the river is a major part of its beauty.
4. As mentioned, the local anglers rely on reasonable water flows to sustain fish. Ive had some preliminary discussions and they might want to join forces with canoeists to save this river. For more information see the SCA Hydro campaign website. We need info on how often this river is used so if you have paddled it please e-mail me and, if possible let me know when and what level the river was at.