GUIDE TO THE RIVER NITH
(Glen Airlie Picnic Site to Drumlanrig Bridge)
NAME OF RIVER: Nith.
WHERE IS IT?: South west Scotland, between Sanquar and Thornhill on the A 76.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Start at the Glen Airlie picnic site (NS 83498 05765) off the A76 (or start on the upper section of the river). There is also good access (put in/take out) to the Nith from a layby near Enterkinfoot (NS 86116 03539) roughly cutting the full trip in half. Ideal put-in if you are short of time. Easily recognised by the adverse camber (wobbly lorry) signs on the road at the bend where the layby cuts away from the road.
Finish river right at Drumlanrig bridge (NX 85891 99863) on minor road signed Drumlanrig Castle off the A76.
APPROX LENGTH: 8 km.
TIME NEEDED: 2 - 3 Hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown, however Sunday paddling throughout the year seems trouble free.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Gauge available here. The river does not require as much rain as most in the area and will usually be going except in the driest weather, however it is much better in medium - high levels. It is worth noting that in very high flows (“huge” on the gauge) the rapids in Drumlanrig gorge wash out and the whole thing is surprisingly flat but very boily/whirly.
GRADING: 2/3 (3+ rising to 4 in high water)
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Potential Tree hazard in Drumlanrig Gorge.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Border country seems to cater well for the paddlers. All the put-ins have car parks and toilets which is always a bonus.
From Glen Airlie to the middle access point it is grade 2/3. There are a few rapids with interesting waves and a few rock dodges to be had. Fun fun fun. The river flows through steep wooded banks for most of its length with the A76 road high up on the river LEFT bank. Not very easy to get to if you need to.
The rapids start at the get in and continue with constant interest if not quite constant white water for several km. Sections follow such as Start Rapid, S-bend, The Grave Yard or Hundred Yard Rapid (how many breakouts can you do?) Campbell's Island, Dodds Folly with a number of play options on the way.
A short section of flat water follows which can be interrupted with a seal launch river left for those that get bored easily. A small drop river left and a looping spot...beside this on river left is Enterkin Burn, an interesting tributary for any masochists among you.
Another 500 metres and a stopper provides good play at low/ medium levels and can be surprisingly grippy! If you can't cope with this first section, then it is probably prudent to get off before Drumlanrig Gorge as this can be quite pushy through narrow twisty gorgelets.
Drumlanrig Gorge (grade 3+, rising to 4 at high flows) is next and can be quite testing. Due to its nature, it might be blocked by fallen trees. Careful leading should see you through safely and is possible for the full length of the section. Inspection/portage is generally possible but can be tricky in high water. There are several several drops split by short flat sections, so you should be able to catch swimmers and kit if you’re quick. In high flows the rapids run into each other for an exciting continuous section.
A short flat section leads to the get out at Drumlanrig Bridge. Take out river RIGHT just above Drumlanrig Bridge.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Andy Evans, Bob Evans, Kirsten Rendle.