GUIDE TO ALLT A'BHALAICH
NAME OF RIVER: Allt a' Bhalaich, according to OS outdoor leisure 38 revised 1996. Other maps may have different names.
WHERE IS IT?: Upper Glen Etive / Rannoch Moor - It drains "Coire Bhalach" of "Beinn a' Chrulaiste". Instead of taking the usual turn towards the river Etive, take the road opposite towards the Kingshouse (there is no road access to the Kingshouse this way anymore as the bridge is closed). Where this road meets a gate and a right turn and a sign advising you that there is no vehicle access beyond this point you should park (without blocking either bit of road). The river passes under the private road 100m further along, just above where it enters the upper reaches of the River Etive.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: There is an island about 700m above the road which is a good put-in if you have the bottle (GR NN26105560), the takeout is a safe stopping distance above the low bridge under the road (approx GR NN 26136 54891). You have to walk 100m along the road and then up the river so you can look at it and select an easier put-in if you want, or explore further above the island.
APPROX LENGTH: 700m.
TIME NEEDED: The walk up isn't too steep and quite grassy (which will be wet for sliding your boat over easily) and probably takes 15-20 mins. The first 350m need quite a bit of inspection/safety - maybe 20 mins for a mid sized group. The lower 350m takes about 2 minutes. If you haven't got back to the car in 45 mins you are probably making a meal of it!
ACCESS HASSLES: Glen Etive is very open at this point. The takeout is 100m up a private road, which means you shouldn't drive but walking is OK.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs a hell of a lot of heavy rain. The middle Etive will be high, and as you approach the Kingshouse from the South East you will notice a white ribbon of water on the hill in the backdrop. Drive to the put-in and look at it - if it looks possible it probably is.
GRADING: 5- easing to 4 half way down. Perhaps more dangerous than technical?
Gradient: 65m/km or over 310ft/mile
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The first 350m is the steepest and there are several distinct drops although it's mostly slides.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Steep rock slides from the island with a couple of drops, one of which has a rocky landing which can be avoided by a couple of well executed lines. Then there is a bumpy rocky but less steep section, followed by more quality if slightly rocky slides all the way to the take out. There are few eddies and they are small, take care to stop well above the road - there isn't much clearance under the bridge and there may be a wire strainer also.
OTHER NOTES: Other runs worth looking at near here are the upper reaches of the Etive where it runs along the private road and the southern tributary which runs from the ski centre road under the A82 and towards the Kingshouse crossing under the road that still goes to the Kingshouse and joins the main fork downstream of the pub (Don't know if this has been run, have noticed falls from the road though!) Anyone able to offer more info on these ditches?
TOP TIP: Much more sensible than Dominator Slabs!
CONTRIBUTED BY: Jim Wallis.