GUIDE TO THE RIVER LUSS
NAME OF RIVER: Luss Water.
WHERE IS IT?: Small town of Luss on shores of Loch Lomond and on the A82 (main Glasgow - Fort William road).
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The put-in is at the top of the unclassified road that leads up Glen Luss from the A82. You will cross an awkward bridge over the Mollochan Burn and the public road ends here. Make sure you leave turning space for other vehicles when you park here, as any vehicles venturing this far will need to turn around! Put-in on the Mollochan Burn (GR 232694).
For the take-out, I recommend leaving any cars at the visitor centre car-park (GR 235693). Driving north turn right at the second sign for Luss and stop at the large car park. This will later imply paddling under the A82 bridge, onto Loch Lomond and then a hundred metres north, passing the pier. There are toilets and a food shop at the car park which makes a welcome change.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 km.
TIME NEEDED: 3 - 4 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown. See the SCA notes on Access.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The water level can be seen from the A82 bridge. If you think you can scrape down the Mollochan Burn, then Luss Water should be nothing to worry about!
The online gauge is off by about 0.25m, so above 0.95m is a good level. The gauge is available here: http://canoescotland.org/where-go/wheres-water
GRADING: Continuous III with many grade IV rapids. One Grade V. One definite portage.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The double drop on the Mollochan Burn bends boats in low water. The Falls of Luss are a portage.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A small continuous river that will scratch your boat.
The Mollochan Burn which we stay on for a few hundred metres is especially small, and strangled by overhanging branches and logs at times. There are two rapids of note on this tributary. The first one that prompts a second look is a narrow chute that will trap your paddles unless they are kept parallel to the boat. The final rapid just before the confluence is a double drop. The reef that forms the second fall will bend/dent a boat as the pool is very short. Many will portage. Portaging on river left is a good trick since it allows inspection of the next rapid.
Immediately at the confluence there is another tricky rapid. The river right channel is slightly undercut and claimed a victim in our group.
From here onwards, the river is excellent, being continuous Grade III with dollops of IV. One rapid is worth mentioning - The river is lively and fast, III+, and the rapid progressively becomes harder. The showstopper is subtle and in the shape of a nasty rock at the base of a shoot blocking the main channel. We bounced over the shallow and tortuous river right route chicken noisedropping into the pool at a vulnerable angle for the stopper.
A few rapids later, in November 2000, we found a fresh tree blocking a Grade III rapid that forced a portage.
Several rapids later and its time for the main portage. A steep rapid goes into a sharp right hand turn (with a large log wedged at the bottom - Nov 2000) and the river then disappears into a gorge for 50 metres. Portage river left, before this rapid, for easiest access back onto the river. If you are nervous about spotting the gorge, don't worry, the lead-in rapid would prompt inspection and doesn't commit you to the gorge.
More excitement follows. One rapid is blocked by a rock that will pin the unwary, so stay alert. One final feature is a weir. The middle ramp will do least damage to boat and ankles.
OTHER NOTES: Nearby rivers include the Douglas, the Falloch, the Cononish and the Orchy; all to the north and along the A82. Alternatively, head towards Arrochar and look at the Kinglas. Anyone followed the footpath along the Mollochan Burn? or the track along Luss Water that reaches Gleann an Caroainn?
CONTRIBUTED BY: J. Sigbrandt.