GUIDE TO THE RIVER ALMOND, EDINBURGH
(Photos coming soon)
NAME OF RIVER: Almond
WHERE IS IT? Just north of Edinburgh
PUT INS/ TAKE OUTS: Park in residential area at Cammo home farm, taking out at Cramond Brig (parking at rear of Cramond Brig pub)
APPROX LENGTH: 3 – 4km
TIME NEEDED: One hour (depending on how long you stop and play, of course)
ACCESS SITUATION: Unless one of the residents of the overlooking houses complains about ‘dirty canoeists’ I wouldn’t imagine there are any problems over and above the usual.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: If the water under the A90 road bridge covers all rocks and is muddy brown then this section of the river is runnable. This is based on the fact that the water is usually clear and the rocks on the river bed are visible – a point when the river is not runnable. Basically, this reads the same for the Water of Leith (which perhaps could be co- ordinated over the same day?). If it has been raining hard in the Edinburgh area then this will be good. It is a spate run.
GRADING: mostly II with III and III+ play spots
POTENTIAL HAZARDS: You are running a river in spate which generally isn’t – expect things floating down stream as you would for any seasonal river. Tree branches aren’t the problem you might expect since the trees are maintained for the walkway. The River Almond isn’t rated highly by SEPA for its pollution level – typical for a city river.
OTHER NOTES: the River Almond in Edinburgh is not to be confused with the River Almond which, just north of Perth, offers its own particular sites of interest.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The section of the river that has been scouted starts where the railway bridge crosses the river (Grid 155 749). It ends at Cramond Brig (179 756). Whilst the river has been scouted this far north, there is not much point in putting on much above the Grotto Bridge (169 792).
The section from the railway bridge to this drop would only be useful as a warm up since it is really only a grade I/II, albeit fast flowing. Grotto Bridge presents a challenging though straight forward section of about one hundred metres of white water. It starts with two sets of drops which finish under the bridge itself, where the river channels into a 1.5m drop. At the end of this, the paddler is met with a wave/friendly stopper. Some great eddy lines are formed where the water continues to flow into the subsequent basin.
Following this playwave and eddy there is another set of drops at Caves corner (GR 173 751) This presents the paddler with some gentle waves and stoppers and some caves along the side to embark upon wall manoeuvres as they dare.
From this section to Cramond Brig there is light white water at grade II/ II+.
NEXT STEP: It is my understanding, based on comments from other paddlers in the Edinburgh area, that the river is paddleable all the way to where the Almond meets the Forth at Cramond House (188 770). There are, however, at least three large weirs which I would carefully inspect prior to undertaking this trip since they are possible portages.
The weir at the end of the flat stretch on the Cramond Brig; (179 765) Appears very straightforward and runnable on the river left as a slide or river right where a 1 metre drop presents itself. This would, however, need higher water to confirm.
The following weir (184 764) would be paddleable only with great caution as sufficient ammout of speed would be required to clear the towback which forms nearly river wide behind the cement wall. With only two exit points – one at each end- it would be a must to clear this drop.
As can be seen from the photographs, the depth does not appear to be an issue when the river is in a runnable (spate) condition. The next weir at (187 765) Has not been fully inspected yet – watch this space- however since it is very similar to its predecessor it may also be a portage option. How the river performs from its beginning until this point is also the subject of research which will come shortly!