GUIDE TO THE RIVER LEVEN
(Lower Section to Kinlochleven)
NAME OF RIVER: Leven.
WHERE IS IT?: Runs from the Black Water Reservoir through Kinlochleven into Loch Leven.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: There is also an upper section. Described here is the lower section.
Drive into Kinlochleven go past Aluminium Works, cross the Bridge over the Leven, then turn right and drive as far as you can upriver. Youll reach a large work SHED and signs for the Dam, carry up path signposted for Dam. Not too bad a carry - approx 30 mins. Cross wooden footbridge over a small trib and continue on path until you reach an open area, then head to river.
APPROX LENGTH: 2-3 km.
TIME NEEDED: 2.5 hrs.
ACCESS HASSLES: No known problems - park with consideration!
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Look over the main bridge if it looks like it's running, then it is. The release varies greatly over the Winter.
We run this on a double dam release first time, and a single dam release second time. Equally good both times!
GRADING: 4/5. 'End of the World' is probably 5+/ 6.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: End of the World Falls and McKay Falls - It depends on what you call a HAZARD - check it out on the way up. Most will portage End of the World! (Suits the name)
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The river starts on a grade 3-4 section dependant of water level, then a large four level reef fall with various possible lines, but a line down river right is preferable and easier to protect. This ran well river right all the way, but the stopper following the third drop is a keeper if hit wrong! After this the river enters an entertaining mini Gorge (4) before a series of drops and stoppers culminating in a chute with a very messy hole (5). Protection here it is vital to prevent being swept into the awesome End of The World rapid...a series of stacked drops which all have to be run at once. The River splits here with a line down river right through a series of shelves confined in a mini gorge. The End of the World consists of 3 falls of approx 20 - 30ft each turning a corner and ending in a very worrying constriction, almost impossible to protect. These are very serious and once committed there is no turning back!! Lower water levels recommended, however, these are easily portaged on river left! After End of The World a series of short Grade IV rapids, starting with an S bend, then a series of drops and various other entertaining rapids, a rapid through a constriction in the gorge signals that MacKays Falls (30') is just around the corner. This fall is possible with a nice line where the water flows over a small ledge tight right to the central rock - both Mark I got flat landings but as I dont know what is in the pool, it is probably better that way: Don't fancy river left much? Easily portaged on river right. Two other easy rapids with play potential follow down to the loch below the road bridge in Kinlochleven.
OTHER NOTES: Also consider a run on the upper section?
Ron Cameron...Jan 2005 'Your section on the horrors of the Leven doesn't mention the relatively benign playhole just below the road bridge in Kinlochleven village. (NN187619) This runs most of the time, even in summer, as it is downstream of the powerhouse. It is a bit shallow and had broken some paddles. At the time of his death Andy Jackson had gone a long way to organising a funding package to artificially enhance the river here to create a much more user friendly feature. John o' Kane and others have been working hard to ensure that his efforts don't go to waste and it looks as if its going to happen. It is hoped that the facility will be available by the end of the summer. A suitable memorial to the big man.'
Andy's other project was an enhancement to the tail race from the Alcan smelter near old Inverlochy Castle. I attach pictures of Andy at Kinlochleven and Heather Smith at the Inverlochy tail race.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Kenny Short and Mark Lyons, also Ron Cameron.