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Top Five Whitewater Kayaking Destinations

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

Top Five Whitewater River Sections

Matt Gambles, from Paddle Surf Scotland, has been lucky enough to spend over twenty years working around the World teaching paddlesports, whether SUP, Canoe, Kayak or Raft. Right here in Perthshire are some of his favourite runs around the World. Here are five special sections:

Middle River Braan

The River Braan is the quintessential Scottish creeking river. Tight, low volume and with plenty of drops, it has plenty to keep even the gnarliest on their toes. From bouncing through read and run grade two in its upper sections, to the 'Mad Mile', a section of grade 5 plus waterfalls, for only the most experienced, the Braan packs it all in. My favourite section is the Middle Braan, consisting of a fantastic mini gorge of grade four rapids sweeping round a tight left hand corner. After a nice little chilled interlude to get your breath back it's time for my favourite rapid, a twisting, pinball like grade three. It's one of those sections you end up running many times, if the conditions are right.

Grandtully, River Tay

The grade three section of whitewater by the village of Grandtully has got to be one of the most scenic in Scotland. Famous as a Slalom and Wildwater Racing venue it has bred internationally competing paddlers for decades. With the numerous Rafting companies in the area it is many people's first ever time experiencing whitewater. The history and the amphitheatre like setting all add to the occasion for me paddling here. There is also a pub right on the banks, ideal for a refreshing post paddle pint.

Stanley to Thistlebrig, River Tay

To be honest, buying a house in the area was definitely influenced by having the Stanley to Thistlebrig section of the River Tay on my doorstep. It's about a 2 mile section of Grade 2 - 3, with a massive array of playful holes and waves, something for all river levels. From the top and the impressive whirlpools of Campsie Linn, though the man made weir and down to the long Thistlebrig wavetrain, it's a section that has never got old to me.

Netherton, River Blackwater

As the rain and snowmelt from the mountains of Glenshee make their way towards the North Sea, they pass through the River Blackwater. This gem of a river is a committing section of Grade 4 (5) with at least one portage to undertake. Those with the skills and experiences to be on the Blackwater will enjoy big drops, read and run creek sections and an exhilarating final grade three descent towards the Church in the tiny hamlet of Netherton, by Bridge of Cally.

Linn of Tummel, River Tummel

The River Tummel is a spectacular place, with two sections of it dam released, offering water starved whitewater paddlers the opportunity to get on the water in the Summer months. The lower Tummel releases on Summer weekends and is a great low volume grade 3 (4) section, favoured by Rafters. I have many great memories of guiding Whitewater Rafters down the Tummel and seeing their exhilarated faces after they have dropped down the final drop, the Linn of Tummel, a two tier waterfall. Whether or not they were still inside the raft or not is a story for another day!.

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