British Invasion: Paddle the Etive River


For picturesque Scottish creeking, look no further than the Glen Etive. Standing guard at the headwaters of the Etive is Buachaille Etive Mor, western Scotland’s most recognizable landscape.

Requiring only a low to medium flow to be a fun paddle, the Etive is the go-to creek for most paddlers visiting Scotland. The middle section hosts 10 drops over 10 feet with clean bedrock features.

Weighing in at class IV at low to medium flows, the Etive can be tackled by a wide range of abilities. Close roadside access adds to its forgiving nature. Be aware that during increased flows the run quickly turns into a stout class V. The smooth granite teacups turn from lightly aerated pools to seething cauldrons with powerful seams and difficult hydraulics to negotiate—it can happen within a matter of hours during heavy rain.

Adding to the valley’s appeal are the other two tributaries, the Allt Mheuran and the Allt a’ Chaorainn, best described as flumes rather than creeks. They offer very steep bedrock channels requiring a hike in approach to access; both creeks are a notch up in class.



The Etive Valley offers some of Scotland’s most reliable creeking from October to May. Be warned though, as the valley is known to host very strong winds and it’s common to spend the entire trip paddling into head-on freezing rain—bring your drysuit.


Steve Rogers is a British Columbia-based adventure photographer, writer and kayaker, originally from the north of England.


This article appeared in Rapid, Early Summer 2013. Download our free iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch App or Android App or read the rest here.



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