GUIDE TO THE RIVER TWEED
(St. Boswells to Kelso - including Mackerstoun Rapids)
NAME OF RIVER: Tweed.
WHERE IS IT?: Southern Uplands.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in: You can start either at the bridge at St Boswell or at from a couple of tracks off the A699. It possible to access the river at a small cottage (Rutherford Lodge?) down a track by a telegraph pole (the first pole on the left after leaving St Boswells!) - the owners are normally OK but would like to know about large groups in advance.
Get out: Kelso layby on the A699 just before the main bridge in the town (don't get confused with the bridge over the River Teviot when driving down!).
APPROX LENGTH: 10 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 4 - 5 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: OK, but preferably Sundays only in Oct. See the SCA Access notes on Scotland.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Unknown.
GRADING: 2 and 3.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Kelso Cauld - has been paddled, but has also caused problems - needs inspection.
Fred Suttie, August 2004...'Immediately opposite Rutherford lodge and immediately after the boathouse should be approached with great care. A breach in the left hand side of the 'cauld' is very fast and deep and should be visually inspected before poceeding. The righthand bank provides for a much safer progress.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: About 200 m downstream of the cottage is the first rapid (II) After this its flatter for a couple of mile with small rapids and good eddies.
Mackerstoun rapid (II/III) is about 1 km below a wall jutting into the river on the right. Islands in mid-stream mark the start of the rapid. This is a series of 3 bouncy drops in about 100 m on the right of the river. Below Mackerstoun its flat for about 3 km until Kelso Cauld, which is just after the first houses appear on the left. The weir can be inspected/portaged on the right. At high water it's possible to go over the weir on the extreme right. The main shoots should be treated with caution. The get-out is 200 m below the weir on the right.
OTHER NOTES: Suitable for folk on a first river trip.
Consider continuing downstream.
Adrian Aderyn ...'We paddled between Peebles and Coldstream, 50 miles. Took 2 1/2 days (2 in open canoe. Fit, but both novices). Scottish 'Right to Roam' accepted by almost all we met. Fishermen can pay enormous sums for a days fishing but are generally friendly enough if you acknowledge them and ask which side to paddle if they are in the middle of the river (Almost always BEHIND them). Not all weirs marked on the OS map, so use your ears! The river is generally fast-flowing (3-4 knots/ 4-5 mph) with occasional artifical salmon 'pools' where the water is still and is usually followed by a weir. Some rapids are unsuitable for (novice) open canoeists - a little porterage required. This was our first serious river trip, so difficult to judge against others, but we enjoyed the solitude (only craft on the river apart from the occasional fisherman).'
Rob Cowley, a local paddler adds (June 2000)...'When levels are high, the lower part of Makerstoun rapids on the Tweed turns into a series of large standing waves which will probably leave open canoe paddlers reaching for their snorkel pipes. The tight gap between the two large rocks at the end of the rapid turns into a nasty looking whirlpool - inspect!'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Janet Moxley, also Rob Cowley, Adrian Aderyn and Fred Suttie.