GUIDE TO THE RIVER ORCHY
(Falls of Orchy to Dalmally Bridge)
NAME OF RIVER: Orchy.
WHERE IS IT?: Glen Orchy is found just to the south of the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, on the A82 Glasgow to Fort William road. The river runs alongside the Glen Orchy road (B8074) off the A82.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in at the steel road bridge below the Falls of Orchy or Eas Urchaidh. Cross the bridge and there is access to the river behind the small wooden house.
Take out on the left just before Dalmally Bridge. There is space for a couple of cars at the bridge.
APPROX LENGTH: 10 km.
TIME NEEDED: Depends on the flow - we did it in a couple of hours without really playing about.
ACCESS HASSLES: No problems.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: There is a gauge on the river right downstream of the steel bridge at the put in. We paddled it at 5 (it goes up to 6) and it was good grade 3 with a few grabby holes. If the water is above the gauge then make your own decision!
GRADING: Grade 3 - some quite long sections, especially after the house on river left half way through the trip.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: There is a weir about 100m after the put in. It can easily be scouted from the road. There is a weakness in the middle. At 3 on the gauge you wouldn't want to go over it anywhere else. No other significant problems anywhere else.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the put in (past the weir) to the suspension bridge at Catnish it is grade 2+ with big bouncy waves at the levels we did it. Then the river slows and there are shingle banks and wide braided rapids.
After a lonely house on the left bank the river splits round an island and starts to pick up. This is the start of the biggest section of white water on the river. We took it on the left but had to cross quickly right to avoid some pourovers and holes. In lower water it might be necessary to run it on the right of the island to avoid scraping the bottom. You may be able to inspect on river right but we didn't bother. This rapid flattens for a hundred metres or so and then turns big and bouncy again. All this can be seen from the road when doing the shuttle but its too far away to be of any use. It is very wide here so a swim can take a while to sort out.
The river slows down again after this and takes you down to Dalmally Bridge and the take out.
OTHER NOTES: This was a great intermediate river, and was guite a challenge to avoid the stoppers in the levels we did it although never too serious. The SCA guide recommends that if you have navigated all the way from Loch Tulla it may be a suitable finish to continue down into Loch Awe below to see Kileburn castle (grade 1).
Upstream of this section is a classic grade 4 and 5 section.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Dave Chapman.