WHERE IS IT?: Glen Etive, below Buachaille Etive Mor. It runs alongside the A82 and get photographed all the time! Easily confused with the River Coe.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The standard run on this river would be to do the quick “park and huck” of the two grade 4 drops. Park in the large layby off the A82 at NN 23677 55387. Grab your boat and walk the short distance to the river where you’ll see the two drops.

Alternatively if you want to do the whole run, you can paddle all the way to the confluence with the Etive for the grade 5 drop there. This is the first bridge on the road down Glen Etive (NN 24384 54319). The trip can be ended here, or you can carry on into the Etive as far as Triple Falls.

APPROX LENGTH: 200m for the classic park and huck, 1.5km if you want to paddle to the Etive.

TIME NEEDED: 1 hour?

ACCESS HASSLES: It’ll be raining so much no one will bother you.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The water level needs to be really high after recent heavy rain. The riverbed should be full. Ideally it should still be raining. A lot.

GRADING: 4, optional extension to include a 5.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Only if you paddle the whole river.


The two rapids are easily inspected and protected, and of course photographed! Various lines are possible, including a slide on the second rapid that you can only see from river right. There is little chance to stop between the two, however there is plenty of easy water below. Take out at the big sweeping bend below the second drop.

Callum Strong on the first drop with Buachaille Etive Mor in the background. Photo by Kirsten Rendle.

More photos

If you opt to do the rest of the river: The river eases a bit, then there is a ten foot drop into a gorge - Grade 5. Consider the centre line, or an awkward sneak down the left. If you don't like it, the river ends 50 metres away at the bridge.

Andy McFadden adds (Jan 2000)...'I ran the last drop on the Coupall in Glen Etive last week. The level was up a bit because of all the rain, hail etc. The lead in is a two tier drop, the last of which is likely to backender you. Best run on river left. The pool directly above the 10 foot drop is squirrelly, but provides a chance to regroup after the previous two drops. The river divides around a large boulder in the middle. The river right channel looks fine, but is virtually inaccessible from the pool. The best line is to run just left of the centre boulder. The water drops rather nastily onto a rock directly below, but a good sweep on the right (maybe off the rock) and a jet half way down help to kick over and to the left of the rock. The current below kicks hard against a wall and you need to keep your wits about you to prevent a pin after running the fall.'

You can of course continue down the Upper River Etive from the end of the Coupall. This will be thumping bouncy Grade 2-3 if the Coupall is up - a great wind-down.

OTHER NOTES: If you have enough water, this is recommended! Afterwards, go do the top Etive.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, Andy Simes, Ian McFadden, Kirsten Rendle and various others.

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