GUIDE TO THE RIVER ORCHY
(Loch Tulla to Bridge of Orchy)
NAME OF RIVER: Upper Orchy.
WHERE IS IT?: A major river in Glen Orchy (no surprises there), the A82 from Glasgow to Fort William passes it at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, a good meeting place for paddlers. Just above the classic section of the Orchy (NN 2966 3964).
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Get to the Bridge of Orchy (i.e. the turning immediately north of the Hotel from the A82 - new plant pots mean you can't cut the corner across the hotel car park!) and check the gauge. This can be your takeout, to find the put in drive upstream on the minor road for a couple of Km's until you come to trees on both sides of the road (and a fence on the water side of the road). You can drag your boats down to Loch Tulla from here. Alternatively stop short of the trees, get changed in the wind and drag your boats a bit further to the river - might as well start on the loch! (NN 293 421)
APPROX LENGTH: 2 km.
TIME NEEDED: Depends on your intentions! 20 mins or less as a trip, 2 hours or more as a training session!
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown. The suggested put in is across open land before the fenced off area of forest. The picnic area at the bridge is one of the most used access points in the west so shouldn't present a problem! Access to the hotel for hot chocolate (or beer) is via the front door!
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Have heard that 2' is the ideal level, although we ran it dropping from around 2' and it was OK, say 1.5' as a sensible minimum. I have heard of it being run at 7', or was it 9', either way the playwaves are reported to be excellent at that level (I can't actually imagine the river that high!).
The online gauge for the middle section (available here: http://canoescotland.org/where-go/wheres-water) should be at least medium, preferably higher for a good run.
GRADING: Grades 2.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Hypothermia?
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the Loch the river starts fairly well as it continues. The glen is very open here with good views, and potential for extreme wind and weather hazard! I don't know how to describe grade 2 water, except that there are plenty of eddies and shoots to train on, plus some good standing waves (level dependant). The rapids are a bit steeper toward the end with the best waves being within sight of the bridge.
If it seems too short, you could continue to Big Rock rapid on the main section (where the Glen Orchy road joins the river) without upping the difficulty - in fact it's probably easier between the bridge and Big Rock!
OTHER NOTES: The shuttle is very runnable or walkable if you have a small group to coach.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Jim Wallis.