Do you know any information about dam release rivers? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Scheduled dam releases have now stopped for 2011 we will bring you the 2012 dates as soon as we can.
Remember all the dams listed below can and do have unscheduled releases, especially likely over the winter months. These tend to be considerably bigger than the summer releases but runs such as the Garry and Tummel can give cracking boating for the more experienced paddler. The Moriston and the Meig are probably best avoided when they are cranking but that should be obvious from one look at the river!!
A classic beginner's trip (Grade 2/3), the River Awe usually has at least some water in it in the summer due to compensation flow from a dam. In the winter, the river will come up like any other, with sufficient rainfall.
Summer 2012 PLEASE NOTE: there is a protracted debate going on about the Awe. It appears that the daily compensation flow which made the river navigable most days have been changed. See the post on UKRGB
According to the SCA website. Following recent discussions between SEPA and SSE, they have agreed that freshets will occur at the following dates and times subject to the availability of stored water:
- 8am July 17th until 8am July 19th
- 8am Aug 14th until 8am Aug 16th
- 8am Sept 18th until 8am Sept 20th
These freshets are dependent on the availability of stored water.
Old Note: Oban Canoe Club were doing a regular Tues night trip on the river over the summer. They cleared a tree hazard upstream of the campsite but noted (28th June 2008) that "
the metal spikes that are all that remains of the old weir about 150m upstream of the power station are still there and paddlers should be wary when in that area. They are marked by gabion buckets of rocks on both banks and at that point the river should be taken dead centre
The summer 2012 Moriston releases are well underway.
The first release this year was used on Sunday 6th for the inaugural Moriston River Race (this is replacing the Etive River Race).
The dam releases once a week between May and Sept. The river usually starts rising at 12:00 - 13:00 on a Tuesday and starts falling from 08:30 - 16:50 on a Wednesday. Most people paddle the river late Tues afternoon and evening but it can be paddled Wed morning.
The Moriston is one of the harder dam-release rivers - usually clocked in at Grade 4 (read the guidebook). The Moriston will also run after very heavy prolonged rainful (not entirely an unusual prospect in Scotland in the summer!) but it is quite a scary prospect when it does and you are probably better going elsewhere!!!
The Garry is a good intermediate paddle or playrun (Grade 3+). Since 2009, SEPA are making the dates publically available usually sometime around the end of March for the following summer.
The river runs from March to October on different days, although commonly Thursdays. In recent years SEPA have increased the number of weekend releases to improve access for paddlers. When releasing, the water usually starts rising 08:00 - 10:00 and starts dropping again in the evening 18:30 - 04:30. Paddling between 10am and 8pm is pretty safe levels-wise.
The 2012 dates are:
March - Thurs 29th
April - Thurs 5th, Sat 7th, Thurs 12th, Thurs 19th, Thurs 26th, Sat 28th
May - Thur 3rd, Thurs 10th, Thurs 17th, Sat 19th, Thurs 24th, Thur 31st
June - Thur 7th, Thurs 14th, Thur 21st, Thurs 28th, Sat 30th
July - Thurs 5th, Sat 7th, Thur 12th, Thurs 19th, Sat 21st, Thurs 26th, Sat 28th
Aug - Thurs 2nd, Thurs 9th, Thurs 16th, Thurs 23rd, Thurs 30th
Sept - Sun 2nd, Thurs 6th, Thurs 13th, Thurs 20th, Thurs 27th, Sat 29th
Oct - Thurs 11th, Sat 13th, Thurs 18th, Thurs 25th
Releases are also arranged on both the Moriston and Garry for the annual Wet West Paddlefest (the AJ Memorial Weekend). This is usually scheduled for a weekend in September. The 2012 festival dates are Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd Sept (following the change in programme last year it's now the Moriston on the Saturday and the Garry on the Sunday). More details here and for full details you can go to wetwestpaddlefest.
The Tummel has two sections made paddleable by dam releases during the summer months. The top section is around Grade 3 and the bottom 3(4) due to the Linn of Tummel.
The top (upper) section - Tummel (Dunalastair) dates for 2012
Wednesday 6th June, Monday 18th June, Wednesday 27th June
Monday 9th July, Wednesday 18th July, Monday 30th july
Wednesday 8th August, Monday 20th August, Wednesday 29th August
Monday 10th September, Wednesday 19th September
Monday 1st October, Wednesday 10th October, Monday 22nd October
Wednesday 31st November
The lower (better known) section - Tummel (Clunie) is from Clunie Dam to the fall at the Linn of Tummel. Releases on the lower Tummel tend to be once per week Friday 16:00 - Monday 08:00 (June to Sept). Generally, with releases starting at half volume at 14:00 ramping up until 15:30 on Day one. Reducing to half volume at 14:00 and shutting off at 15:30 on Day three.
The Lyon has two sections but the upper is rain dependent. Hydro schemes also now effect this river.
For summer 2012 the Lyon does have a release schedule. The dates are as listed below courtesy of Stuart Wagstaff NB the dam is a long way above the gorge so its no good turning up immediately after they turn it on. The next day is fine especially in the morning. If you look at the Sepa guage online you will be able to see the shape of the release http://www.sepa.org.uk/water/river_leve ... t&lc=14951 lyon@comrie bridge.
Its even more worth while if you go on a day when there is also a release on the Upper Tummel from the Dunalistair dam.
Tuesday 12th June, Wednesday 20th June, Thursday 28th June
Monday 2nd July, Tuesday 10th July, Thursday 19th July, Wednesday 25th July
Thursday 2nd August, Monday 6th August, Tuesday 14th August, Tuesday 21st August, Wednesday 29th August
Thursday 6th September, Thursday 13th September, Wednesday 19th September, Thursday 27th September
Thursday 4th October andTuesday 9th October
Note: Three additional freshets will be available for release at the request of SEPA. 5 working days notice will be given for their release.
Freshet release commences at 16:00 the stated day, continues for 20 hours, finishing at 12:00 the following day and releasing a total volume of 340,957m3/d. 28 freshets are available per annum. TOTAL ALLOCATED VOLUME: 9,546,796m3 per annum.
Read the guidebook for this one - it says it all. Similar to the Awe, there's usually a compensation flow going all through the summer months from June to Oct June. There should also be an additonal release above compensation flow once a week 09:00 Thurs – 09:00 Fri.
The compensation flow is enough to make an enjoyable first trip down a very pretty gorge (rated around Grade 4). Don’t be put off when you get to the dam, it really doesn’t need much and as long as there is some compensation flow it should be worth a trip. The additional Thurs release doesn't make the river any harder just a bit more comfy (less rocky!). Be warned if the Meig is really going (and this should be obvious at the put in - water over the dam etc) probably best to walk away. This is a small constricted gorge which doesn't take much water to get seriously difficult and full on!
Upper Spean (Laggan Dam)
The Upper Spean can run at anything from Grade 3 to 4+ depending on the number of pipes releasing, overspill and the volume of it's 2 tributaries (the Trieg and the Laire). The Laggan Dam doesn't have scheduled releases - it actually releases 2 pipes at a time automatically when the water level in Loch Laggan rises to a certain level. It also automatically shuts down 1 pipe at a time. Consequently you can get it releasing at 1 or 6 and everything in between depending on whether the water level is rising or falling. It very rarely releases during the summer.
Recently (Nov / Dec 2011) the dam has been spilling quite a bit. The loch is high and there has been LOTS of rain.
We'll try and keep the site up to date (on the forum) with the loch levels, the last known number of pipes releasing and levels on the Spean Gorge from the wall guage just downstream of the bridge in Spean Bridge. The loch can actually rise and fall pretty dramatically with both very wet and very dry weather. We have ambitions to set up a web cam of Laggan Dam, but this may be some time off!
Doon (Ness Glen)
Hidden away in Ayrshire, the Ness Glen section of the Doon is on a constant release all summer from a dam at Loch Doon and is paddleable all the time. This is another good beginners trip clocked at Grade 2/3.
Dams need maintenance, and when they do the hydro scheme is forced to release water into the river. The River Conon is the classic case of paddlers taking advantage of a maintenance shutdown - quite a few folk had magic trips and minor epics as a result!
Back in the summer of 2008 - both the Awe and the Oich dam (feeds into the Garry) were undergoing maintenance work. The lochs above them had to be kept at a set level so the work could continue. This meant when it rained heavily both the Awe and the Garry had been releasing. We think this work is now over but will let you know any news on other dam works if and when we know anything.
We'd love to get more regular info on maintenance schedules, but so far this info hasn't been forthcoming - we live in hope!