GUIDE TO THE RIVER DOON
NAME OF RIVER: Doon (Ness Glen section).
WHERE IS IT?: The Ness Glen is the short, steep gorge that runs from below the dam on Loch Doon and ends above the village of Dalmellington in Ayrshire. Map.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: If taking the A713 south from Ayr go through Dalmellington and after 1 mile look for the turning for Loch Doon. Follow this road till you reach the dam.
Put in on either side of the dam depending on how busy the parking is (the south side has toilets and a kiosk in summer).
To reach the get out head back down the road and take the first track on the left (Craigengillan estate). Park half way down this track on a concrete base on the right.
Alternatively, get out at the bridge below Bogton Loch where the B741 crosses the river. This gives a 6km run but below the gorge it is never more than grade 2 and you risk disturbing anglers on the river and birds on the loch, which is an SSSI. Its therefore probable best only to do this in winter.
Robin Cole (Dec 2005)...'Best to get in river right, below the weir by the overflow pipes. There's a path down from the car park on the Dalmellington side of the dam.'
APPROX LENGTH: 1.5 km.
TIME NEEDED: 2 Hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: Good. The local estate owner is very positive about recreational access. When we first looked at the gorge both the river and footpath on river left were completely blocked by fallen trees. The estate have now built a new bridge across the bottom of the gorge and cleared almost all of the trees, making a complete run possible.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This is the best bit. The Ness Glen enjoys a constant release of water from Loch Doon so even in the middle of summer there is enough water for a run. During sustained wet weather the release is increased slightly making things even better and if Loch Doon is full and it keeps on raining then the level is cranked up again making it a lot faster and raising the grade to 4. If the weir just below the start can easily be run down either side then it is very high.
GRADING: 3 (3+).
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The weir immediately below the start has a very sharp lip and is responsible for biting the bum off at least one boat. Either run the central channel dead on centre or portage right. Shortly after there is a low footbridge with a good break out above it on the left. It is worth inspecting the rapid below.
As mentioned the estate have cleared a huge number of trees but there is still one or two to watch out for.
The walls of the gorge are very loose and will trundle every so often; this is more of a danger when you are on the footpath alongside the river than on the water.
Robin C (May 2006)...'There is a large section of timber stuck solid at the exit from the drop after the first bridge. Stray too far left and this could catch you. I kept right and skimmed over it just fine. I grew up 10 miles from this river and knew nothing about it. Ran it in May 2006 and was blown away by the beauty of the location and what a fun, technical run it is. All the rivers in the area were bone dry and the Loch level was very low but the Doon was running just fine. On a Sunday during a warm weekend in May, I still had the whole river to myself!'
Sean McGrath, Wild River.co.uk (August 2005...'I ran the central slot and landed on something sharp enough to rip a very large chunk out of the tail of my boat. Although it doesn't appear to be particularly dangerous it did turn out to be very expensive.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: After the weir is a fast, twisting section, followed by the footbridge. Below this point there is a broken footpath along the left bank, useful for inspecting from though most of the gorge is readnrun territory.
After a few nice grade 3 rapids look for a small island with a drop on either side, this used to be known as the Great Tree Choke. It is now clear but gives a lovely continuous section of drops and fast water and is probably worth inspecting. The end of the gorge is obvious, get out after the new footbridge and carry up the track to the parking area.
OTHER NOTES: The rest of the river is paddled but is generally grade 2 with a bit of 3 below Patna. Watch out for a bad tree in the gorge a couple of miles below Patna and a large weir on the Alloway stretch. The Doon is an important salmon fishing river so locals tend to paddle it on Sundays or during the winter.
Nearby is the Water of Deuch.
Most trees have been cleared now but there are one or two still there, they're fine on compensation flow but may be impassable at higher levels.