NAME OF RIVER: Scaur Water.

WHERE IS IT?: South West Scotland, approx 20 miles north of Dumfries.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Follow the A702 through Penpont, the road crosses the Scaur Water after about 1 mile, this bridge is the suggested get out. Follow this road for a short distance and take the minor road on the right towards Polgown, follow for about 3 miles until the road crosses the river. Get in here.


TIME NEEDED: 2 hours.

ACCESS HASSLES: This is a seldom paddled river with possibly sensitive access. One local advised me that they viewed it as a 'locals only river' and that large groups could jeopardise access. Please respect this balance by using the river discreetly and sensitively.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The level can be gauged from the A702 bridge. Some recent rain is required although for a small river it holds up reasonably well.

GRADING: Mostly G3 with one section of G4 and one G5/ portage.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: One section of Gorge which is severely undercut and very narrow, most will portage.

Paul Seddon - Nithsdale Canoe Club (July 2006)...'Approximately 1.5 km after the grade 4 section that is acting as a full width strainer. Its easy enough to portage on the left and is reasonably easy to spot.'

Debbie Keeling (10/2/02)...'Watch out for the fallen tree lying across the river 300 metres above Glenmarlin Falls. This tree is huge and looks as though it will be lodged there for some time!'

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: After a slow start the river maintains constant interest if not excitement for nearly its entire length. Numerous small sections of grade 2 - 3 and narrow channels provide entertainment, in addition to a number of play possibilities.

After about 1.5 miles the section of grade 4 is reached. This consists of a narrow twisting channel with a tight right and then left turn followed by a 1.5 metre drop, which can be taken either side of a central rock. Inspection/ bank support is best from river left except at high water levels.

Further minor sections follow leading eventually to a recognisable boulder garden, this marks the start of Glenmarlin falls, grade 5 or portage. Inspect and portage from the right bank before the boulder garden. This section is in a small gorge which is heavily undercut and is very tight at the exit in low/ medium water levels. At higher water levels the exit becomes easier but the lead in would be more serious. The first descent of this was apparently undertaken with the aid of bank support on abseil ropes.

Access back to the river can be gained via a steel ladder conveniently placed. A fairly short paddle then leads to the suggested get out at Penpont Bridge.

A further two good sections of grade 3 follow within half a mile of this, however a long section of flat water must then be endured before the next convenient road bridge. Check your map for location.

OTHER NOTES: When paddled in Jan 00, the grade 4 section ran sweetly for two of our group, however, get the line slightly wrong and its another story. The other two in our group had intimate contact with the river bed/ side followed by a swim or two ! You know who you are. The G5 section was portaged that day due to time constraints (the time we wished to spend in this life).

William Anderson (March 2004)...'If you try the river below Glenwhargen, the falls above Chanlock Foot would require portage'.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Bob Evans, also Debbie Keeling, Paul Seddon and William Anderson.