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Glenarm River

  Grade:   3 to 5       Rating: river rating
  County:   Antrim   Date updated:03/03/2011
  Section Length:   Approx. 7 miles / 11 Km   Version: 4 (History)

Brief River Description

In low water the river can still be run as the pools hold enough to land in however in between the drops the river is very shallow and a lot of hand pushing is required.

The drops will require scouting to check for downed trees etc. safety is required on some. If you have parked at the beach there is a 2 mile shallow paddle out through a boulder garden.

Directions to the Put-in

Take the A8 towards Larne until you take the left turn onto the A36. After about 1.5km, on a left bend, take the right turn signposted for Carnalbanagh. Continue along the Starbog road for about 12km.

Once you are heading down into the valley the get in is at a stone bridge beside a farm on a left bend. Parking here is poor, you just have to get your vehicle as far into the side as possible.

Directions to the Take-out

To get to the take out for the shuttle run follow the B97 to Glenarm and park in the carpark behind the beach beside the river mouth, there is an alternative take out within the Estate beside the red iron bridge, however access to it is only given in special circumstances.

River Description

The actual get in is right below the stone bridge and is about 30m upstream of the first two drops.

The first drop is a slot drop best ran head on to avoid a slab to river right and the side pour on river left. Safety can be set up on a rock shelf above river left. The second drop is 2m after the 1st and is a clean 2.5m drop possible to freewheel off etc.

Run on down through a shallow section of the river over a couple of minor drops until the river thins out and flows river left. Eddy out on river left to scout the third drop, safety can also be set up on river left as there is a risk of pinning. The drop itself is a small drop into a pool under a fallen tree followed by an 8 meter slide with pillow waves forming over boulders.

Continue running down into what is the shallowest section of the river there is alot of pushing with hands required here. Eventually you will reach a sequence of three minor drops follow by a bend to the left in the river, this is the location of the 4th drop which drops about 2.5m vertically. On river left this is a clean drop however there is a slab about 4inches below the surface at the bottom, not recommended to run it there. River right is a bony slide with no water but is very possible if you hug the wall.

You are now entering the actual gorge. Continue on down until you see a stone bridge and the Linford Water joins the Glenarm. The river thins just below this, eddy out on river right to scout and set up safety for the next drop. This is a 20m rapid section followed by a 2m drop into a deep plunge pool. The drop can sometimes be retentive so having a rope on river right is advisable.

15m along the pool is the grade 5 drop. This can be scouted from above on river left or right, left being easier as the view is unobscured by trees. The drop itself consists of three parts. The first is a 1.5m entry drop where on hitting the pool you must go hard right towards the wall to avoid the cave in the middle of the main drop. The line on the right is easily recognisable as the flow flows between a rock and the wall. Once lined up beside the rock go hard and boof the main drop as it is shallow and you need speed to punch the stopper at the bottom of the small third drop, this is fairly retentive though is easily surfed and escaped from. Rescue for the middle section of the drop is difficult to impossible.

Continue down until once again the river thins out towards river left, this is the next drop. Can usually be run blind and without safety but checks for downed trees is advisable. The drop consists of a small drop into a pool followed by a 1.5m drop down towards the river right wall into a pillow wave then a straight drop over the stopper at the bottom. For shorter boats this stopper although not majorly retentive can and will hand out back loops if too much speed is lost.

On down is the last of the major drops. Safety is advised on this drop, usually a dope on a rope. It is a thin drop into a thin deep pool and is very retentive,however with a good enough boof it is safe and fun. For those who don't want to run it there are some steep long seal launches possible just after it.

The remaining part of the river is shallow once again apart from three points where the river thins out again and drops in gradient. These can usually be run blind but caution about trees is advised, also in high water the holes can become quite grabby.

Run on down until you see a red bridge, this is the ideal get out if you have gained access to the Estate, if you haven't however there is one last fish ladder wier which is ran just river left of the middle. After this you are into the shallow boulder garden which lasts until you reach the sea.

Local issues

- Fishermen in the gorge are best avoided as they pay massive amounts to fish there and do not appreciate being interrupted by kayakers.
- Its is recommended that you ask for permission to access to the estate which the river flows through. You can do this by by driving into the estate by the entrance in Glenarm village.

River level gauge

There are marks sprayed on a rock downstream river left of the bridge at the get in. If it is below the level of the bottom line it is not worth running, however the first two drops can still be ran. The estate are usually very accommodating, so please be curtious and respectful even if permission is declined for whatever reason.

River Hazards

Downed trees blocking drops, and risk of pins.


Original Author: Dave G
Latest Author: Seanie
(Full History)

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