GUIDE TO THE ALLT MHEURAN
NAME OF RIVER: Allt Mheuran.
WHERE IS IT?: In Glen Etive. Heading south on the A82 from Glencoe and Fort William, it's a minor right turning. It is the last river to enter the lower Etive before the Loch.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Park in a large layby across from the track marked on the OS map (NN 13087 46440). Then it's a long carry down to the confluence (NN 13469 46168) then up to the obvious falls (NN 13965 45641).
APPROX LENGTH: Several hundred metres.
TIME NEEDED: LOADS of time for Inspections and carrying! Two hours?
ACCESS HASSLES: No problems reported.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: High water would make this terminal. See below. You can see the falls from the road, though a good zoom lens or binoculars are required!
GRADING: Judge for yourself? Grade 4 (ish) at low levels, it is grade 5/5+ at high levels.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: All of it.
John Heaton (April 2004)...'Watch out for pesky deer ticks...cover your legs.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Anyone who has paddled the Allt a' Chaorainn tributary should have a look at another small river entering river left near the get-out. This involves a lengthy walk but is worth every minute of it. It starts with a straightforward 15 foot drop followed by a couple of twisty drops and ends in a ridiculous 30 foot waterslide which terminates in a 15-20 foot fall (Warning - leaning back on take off can result in a hard flat landing). In low water this can be paddled with or without paddles and minimal protection. However, with any water at all this becomes very serious, as does Allt a' Chaorainn. There is a rock fall in the middle of the run making a rather worrying siphon when levels are high, take care. At low levels it will be easy to portage around.
Andy Simes adds...'I have run the lower half when the final slab leading to the last fall was completely covered. If you have just won the lottery, slept with Kim Basinger, successfully bought out Microsoft and are generally feeling very lucky then try it. The take-off for the last drop happens about 6 feet earlier than usual, something worth mentioning to any spectators to avoid hitting them, and the landing is violent to put it mildly. On the up-side you can live on the high you get for about 5 years (I have). At that level the plunge pool of the top drop turns into a cauldron which made the rest look easy'.
Duncan Stewart on running it at a high level: (See photo below) "The whole thing is probably runnable at this level as a very serious grade 5+ by a proper nutcase, there was water coming over the siphon but the cauldron on the first fall was terrifying, and being off line would likely mean a pin in the siphon so I bravely wimped out. Bottom slide is awesome though as a slightly more chill grade 5, but really not much space before the next drop which is pretty ugly at that level with a fairly tight line and potentially sticky hole."
OTHER NOTES: When we first went to paddle the Mheuran, it was late afternoon following a days rain having just paddled the River Etive, rising at about an inch every ten minutes or so. When we arrived at Allt Mheuran it was majorly humping and looked to be a certain suicide mission. However, we paddled the section from the last fall down to the River Etive, which was fairly full on itself with numerous tree and pinning options. Add to this, the fact that it is barely wide enough to turn a boat and watch as the carnage ensues.
We then left the boats hidden on the riverbank and came back at first light the next morning to paddle it at optimum? levels and hence I suffered my first swim in 2 years. However, with that out of the way, the River Orchy on 4 later that day seemed a doddle, and hence a couple more swims ensued, although fortunately not for myself...
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kris Waring, also Andy Simes, John Heaton, Kirsten Rendle and Duncan Stewart.
If you would like to submit updates, new guides or photos, email ukrgb.scotland AT gmail DOT com
Duncan Stewart on the final slide in high water (grade 5). Picture by Arthur Norton.
The following photos show low water.
Paddler: Jessica Leggatt, Photo: Mollie Cooper
Paddler: Jessica Philip, Photo: Mollie Cooper
This photo shows the siphon (as of October 2017) at medium/high levels. We had hoped to do the first drop, but stopping before getting stuck in the boulders looked tricky!
Photo by Kirsten Rendle