GUIDE TO THE RIVER GARRY
NAME OF RIVER: Garry.
WHERE IS IT?: A tributary of Loch Oich in the Great Glen.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: To find the put in from Invergarry, drive up the A87 Skye road to a track that goes off on the left to the dam (it’s the next left after the Whitebridge turn off). Park discreetly along here without blocking access - this road can get very busy on release days. Access the river through a large gate (NH 27864 01836) that leads down a track to the dam.
Takeout either at Whitebridge (NH 28362 01352) for a short run with the best white water, or in Invergarry (NH 31364 01146) for a longer trip that takes in all the rapids. To find Whitebridge, take the track that goes off the A87 road before the put in track down to the bridge and a forestry car park. Good paths lead up river from here on both sides to the dam, so parking here and walking your boat is an option on busy days. Doing the rapid below the bridge then walking back to this car park is also feasible.
The take out in Invergarry is a small road off the A82 on the north bank that leads down to a bridge and the entranceway for Glengarry castle. Takeout just below the bridge on river right and scramble up the bank to the road. The road is quiet, but be sensible with parking.
APPROX LENGTH: 1km to Whitebridge, 5km for the full run to Invergarry
TIME NEEDED: Lots of play time.
ACCESS HASSLES: The garry is a very busy river, especially during summer weekend releases and is used by commercial rafting companies as well as kayakers. Please park and paddle with due consideration for others - especially those trying to turn trailers and busses.
Tensions between kayakers and fishermen on the garry are historically very high, however changes in land owners and the increasing popularity of the river seem to have calmed this somewhat.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Only paddleable after a dam release - schedule available here: SCA water releases
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Getting squashed by a raft. The dam water is rather on the chilly side!
Just below the put-in is Double or Quits (grade 3), with some nice bouncy waves and good eddies to catch. Next up is the Playhole, marked on busy days by a flotilla of boats in the eddy. This hole can be a tad shallow, keep your elbows in!
Easy water leads down to the main rapid in this section, Hey Diddle Diddle (grade 3+). This is a bouncy lead in to a ledge drop into a gorge. Like the name suggests, the usual line is straight down the middle. Catch some eddies just after to watch the carnage. At the end of the short gorge is Pop till you Drop (grade 3), with epic popout potential on the right. Just around the next corner is White Bridge Wave (grade 3), a double stack of surf waves for you to show off to the tourists. This is a good finish point if you're just playing.
Below the bridge there is Island Rapid (grade 3+), a long steep rapid with lines on both the right and far left. There is a convenient take out on river right at the bottom of this rapid with a short walk back to White Bridge.
The river mellows and flat water leads to Invergarry. There are two more good grade 3 drops after the A82 road bridge in Invergarry - Boof Left, a ledge which runs well on the left, and Twisting Drop, which has a great eddy line for playing in and a hero eddy on the apex of the bend. The river is flat below here, so this can be a good spot for the more nervous to practice some skills.
It is worth noting that in very high winter flood releases, the Garry is a fantastic big water run that reaches grade 4. It would be advisable to inspect the whole run before getting on as the river changes significantly. There is a large eddy at the raft take out at Whitebridge, we didn’t go look at what happened to the rapid downstream but there is potential for a significant tree hazard and possibly an enormous hole!
OTHER NOTES: Further observation from Si Cubbon...'If the get in is flat it's still a good paddle, however, if the get in has huge standing waves and the trees are all covered, it'll be an exciting trip to be remembered!!! We paddled this river on Saturday 18th January, the dam appears to be broken at the moment or undergoing some repair, which means that the Garry is on full release. Some members of the group who spend too much time in Scotland said that they had never seen the river this high. There were some HUGE standing waves most of the way down the river, and due to its height, lots of emerging trees from the water. Most of the weirs/interesting parts were not too hard but were well worth an inspection!! I personally missed a line and was subjected to some time in a stopper with and then without paddles, luckily managing to hand roll and get out of it before another nasty part of the river!!! All in all, a fantastic trip at possibly the highest levels known for a long time!!!'
Some historical access information pre-land-reform (the current access situation is very good):
I have received a number of interpretations of the Garry Access situation. For clarity I asked the SCA River Advisor to explain the situation fully...
Andy Jackson (river adviser for the Garry)...Spring 2003.
'Water is released on the River Garry once a week from April to October (inclusive). This used to be a regular release on a Thursday but in recent years the release date has been moved from week to week and it is not possible to identify in advance which day the river is running. Occasionally additional releases can also take place on a weekend so it is worth checking if you are in the area.
After a difficult period at the start of last summer things seemed to settle down at the river and there were few incidents of paddlers being challenged by other river users. As the majority of paddlers use the section above White Bridge and the majority of fishermen use the section below there should be little scope for a conflict of interest anyway. If you do run into any trouble please remain calm and polite at all times. Exercise your right to access the river responsibly and with due consideration to other river users. It is a big help if you can report any problems you encounter to myself.
We are seeking to establish a fairer system of water releases which stops paddlers having to play the current guessing game. You can help by demonstrating that as well as having a good time on the river paddlers make a real and substantial contribution to the local tourist economy. Please be proactive about using the pub, cafe and petrol station at Invergarry where you will find paddlers are made very welcome. There is also now bunkhouse accommodation in Invergarry. If you are visiting for a few days and you base yourself from there you will easily be able to catch the river when there is water in it. www.invergarrylodge.co.uk
By continuing to take responsible access and supporting local businesses we help to strengthen our case for a fairer system of water releases.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kirsten Rendle, Jon Harwell, Mark Rainsley and Andy Jackson, also Si Cubbon.