GUIDE TO THE RIVER GHUILBINN
NAME OF RIVER: Ghuilbinn.
WHERE IS IT?: In the middle of nowhere...a tributary of the Spean.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: See the River Ossian guide, as you need to paddle that to get to this river....unless you fancy a LONG carry cross-country upstream from the take-out. The Takeout is a car-park beside the road near where the Ghuilbinn flows into Loch Laggan. You really need to look at the OS maps to figure this one out.
APPROX LENGTH: Total length of Ossian and Ghuilbinn trip, about 15 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Probably a whole day...but you'll have an early start due to the Train times...
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown. There won't actually be anyone around to complain...
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: You can get an idea of the level by walking up a mile or so from the Spean valley to check the last 'reef' fall. We've done this in low water, but it is much better after heavy rain. We once set off on a morning when this was predicted...but got a blizzard instead. Be warned.
GRADING: Grade 2-3 for the first few miles, then 4 and 5.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Remote, committing...and usually bloody cold.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A mini-expedition! You will have started on the River Ossian. From Loch Ghuilbinn the river gains gradient and after coming close to the trees on river left, falls over a river-wide 2-3 metre drop. From here the river flows through a long series of open gorges. These are technical grade 4 in low water, but develop some kicking stoppers in higher water and would presumably be pretty full-on in flood. One memorable narrow drop between confined walls seems insignificant but has a horrendously sticky stopper...only one way to find out which one it is!
Eventually, the river reaches a constricted 4 metre waterfall with jutting rock about where your head should be. We've walked around this both times we've been there. Next is the final twist, a remarkable mega-rapid...an enormous stepped reef with numerous possible lines, none of them straightforward. Grade 5 by the centre route? Worth the whole trip just to see this bizarre rapid. Below is Loch Laggan. If you were feeling really fit, you could perhaps paddle down the lake, portage Laggan Dam and paddle the Upper Spean!
OTHER NOTES: The nearest thing to an expedition you'll get in the UK? Take appropriate kit.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.