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Glen Airlie to Drumlanrig - Nith River Guide


(Glen Airlie Picnic Site to Drumlanrig Bridge)


WHERE IS IT?: South west Scotland, between Sanquar and Thornhill on the A 76. Map shows the takeout.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Glen Airlie Picnic site - Drumlanrig Bridge. Or start on the upper section of the river.

Start at the Glen Airlie picnic site off the A76. There is also good access to the Nith at the Enterkin Burn, roughly cutting the full trip in half. Ideal put-in if you are short of time.

Finish river right at Drumlanrig bridge on minor road signed Drumlanrig Castle off the A76.


TIME NEEDED: 2 - 3 Hours.

ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown, however Sunday paddling throughout the year seems trouble free.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Looks bony? Don't get on. There is a gauge at Drumlanrig bridge, at less than 1.5 the river is low but do-able. At 0.5, between 2 and 4 the is medium, above 5 the river is high and the gorge section becomes a good grade 4, above 7 thegorge would become a more serious undertaking with inspection for trees etc...worthwhile. This river has a large catchment area and can be paddleable in summer after a short period of rain.

GRADING: 3 (4) Harder in high water.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Potential Tree hazard in Drumlanrig Gorge. Numerous minor rapids, rapid/drop after approx. 5 km marking the start of the short grade 4 gorge section.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Border country seems to cater well for the paddlers. All the put-ins have car parks and toilets which is always a bonus. This stretch of the Nith is probably the most continuous and can be quite difficult depending on water level.

From Glen Airlie there are a few rapids with interesting waves and a few rock dodges to be had. If you can't cope with these then it is probably prudent to get off before Drumlanrig Gorge as this can be quite pushy through narrow twisty gorgelets. Fun fun fun. There is a wire bridge half way down the section, which has been jumped and seal launched off in years gone by. The river flows through steep wooded banks for most of its length with a road high up on the river LEFT bank. Not easy to get to if you need to.

The rapids start at the get in and continue with constant interest if not quite constant white water for several km. Sections follow such as Start Rapid, S-bend, The Grave Yard or Hundred Yard Rapid (how many breakouts can you do?) Campbell's Island, Dodds Follywith a number of play options on the way.

A short section of flat water follows which can be interrupted with a seal launch river left for those that get bored easily. A small drop river left and a looping spot...beside this on river left is Enterkin Burn, an interesting tributary for any masochists among you.

Another 500 metres and a stopper provides good play at low/ medium levels and can be surprisingly grippy! Drumlanrig Gorge is next and can be quite testing. Due to its nature, it might be blocked by fallen trees. Careful leading should see you through safely and is possible for the full length of the section.

A few sections of grade 3 follow, then a short flat section and after a right bend with rock walls river right is the first rapid of note. Inspect river left, the most obvious route down the middle/ right often catches you out in low and medium levels. The rest of the gorgethen follows in quick succession with a few twists and stoppers. Pre-inspection is difficult but not impossible in this section which passes all too quickly. A short flat section leads to the get out at Drumlanrig Bridge. Take out river RIGHT just above Drumlanrig Bridge.

OTHER NOTES: An excellent intermediate trip. A tributary of the Nith, the Crawick Water, is well worth the trip when you are in the area at medium-plus water levels. Also look at Euchan Water.

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