NAME OF RIVER: River Whiteadder - Borders - Scotland.

WHERE IS IT?: Just south of Whiteadder Reservoir in Lammermuirs. Near the town of Duns in the east of the Scottish Borders. It flows through the village of Preston and also Abby St Bathans.


PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Although there are lots of potential put ins and take outs to take in the best section put in at Abbey St Bathans next to the river caf where there is a handy car park. Take out either where the B6355 crosses the river on a bizarre little bridge made up of lots of little pipes instead of a wide span or at Preston bridge where there is a nice get out point with a car park.

APPROX LENGTH: About 12-15 km from Cranshaws to Preston. From Abbey St Bathans, about 8 km to Preston or 6 to the pipe bridge.

TIME NEEDED: 2 hours +

ACCESS HASSLES: No problems.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: needs a fair amount of water - can be done in open boat if low, but scrapey hell if the wind is against you as it funnels through the hills.

You're best to check the SEPA gauge for this river as it is sometimes full when others in the area are empty and vice versa, 0.8m should be considered minimum flow. When at the get in if you can paddle over the ford the run is on. It can be paddled lower as long as a reasonable amount of water is going over the ford although it is a scrape.

GRADING: mostly grade I/II but one IV and one III.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: fences across the river higher up, grade IV fall about 2 miles SE of Abbey St Bathans - inspect, grade III just downstream on bend just under footbridge, also pipes across the river at first road after Abbey St Bathans (4-5 miles down stream).

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Whiteadder can be paddled from Cranshaws down but is mostly G1.

Paddling down from Abbey St Bathans, the river is mostly G1 until you pass a strange building with a round tower thing on river left called the retreat house, after this there is a G2/3- section ending in a 3+ rapid, at lower flows this small fall is quite rocky.

Further G2 sections follow until small cliffs rise up on either side and you pass under a footbridge. This marks the last G3 a 1.5 meter fall which can be taken down the right at lower flows to avoid inspection.

After this the river tames and becomes mostly G1 with a bit of G2 thrown in as it flows down a remote feeling valley, I saw an otter on this section last time I paddled it! The river continues like this until the pipe bridge.

After this you can take out or continue on down to Preston which throws in a few G2+ rapids before coming to an end. This lower section is only really worth it in higher flows.

Pictures of the Whiteadder.

OTHER NOTES: A small twisty river, causing for quick decisions and good manoeuvring, but great atmosphere. Visit the Broch at Abbey St Bathans, the village also has a great tea room right beside the ford (where the Southern Upland Way crosses) so take some money in the boat. A good river for bicycle transfer as short journey by bike for a big loop by canoe. A bicycle shuttle would be possible from Preston to Cranshaws but not to Abby St Bathans as it involves climbing up some steep hills and taking a very long route!

If the Whiteadder is too low then go to Pease Bay just over on the coast as it has excellent surf.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Douglas Rae Selkirk CC and Alastair Seagroatt - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., have a look at - some canoeing and other outdoor photos, also webmaster to - information for Open Boaters.