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Glenmacnass River

  Grade:   4 to 5       Rating: river rating
  County:   Wicklow   Date updated:02/09/2012
  Section Length:   2 Km   Version: 5 (History)

Brief River Description

Nice but nasty IV in low to medium water, not a river to swim on in at any level. 4+ to 5 in high water. The Boiling hole is V-e/Ve depending on water level. The boiling hole is one of the hardest, most dangerous, regularly run drops in the country. Always committing.

Directions to the Put-in

Central Wicklow. Drive to Laragh and take the road, past the Organic Top Shop, for the Sally gap towards Glenmacnass falls. Drive up about 1km and park on the left at the pull in opposite the walk up to the Scarr mountain.

Follow the path through and get in just below a small island. (About five hundred meters above the put in at the wooden bridge) (IV/V+flood), or hike upstream for the Boiling Hole (Ve).

Directions to the Take-out

Take out as for the Avonmore (Annamoe) at confluence with the Avonmore or Buckys bridge.

River Description

The boiling hole (V-e/Ve): a tight, technical grade V drop. If you are considering this drop. Get advice from someone who knows the drop first-hand on how to set up rescue. At the bottom of the second drop the river flows into an irretrievable undercut which will retain ANYTHING that goes in there. If you have the skills for this drop the line is obvious. This is one of the most committing drops I've run in the country with the most serious consequences.

Glenmacnass from above wooden bridge (IV low water/IV+ to V medium high water): one of my favourite runs in medium high water river this is a lovely grade IV roller coaster. The hardest part is about 500 yds down from the put in and is affectionately known as the boulder garden. obvious from upstream eddies as the river pours over a small ledge in front of a large boulder. Inspection is advised, rescue mandatory at the entrance and exit boulders except maybe for extremely strong and confident paddlers. It is possible to become pinned sideways under the first boulder. in high water a sneak route on the right opens up at the first boulder, at present blocked by trees, and the second boulder forms a large cushion that you need to bounce off and head right. The rest of the run is a boat scout grade IV.

As you approach the bridge in Laragh take the right fork of the river and battle your way through the trees.

Update march 2010: left hand channel is now clear above the bridge in
Laragh, right hand channel has been partially cleared but large trees and some branches remain. Left channel is narrow but cleaner and safer than right.

Local issues

In the past it has been reported that a land owner above the boiling hole has taken exception to paddlers walking the twenty feet from road to river across his land. Further up again there is a ford on the river with good access but again a no trespassing sign exists. So much as the hike from the wooden bridge is a pain you won't be challenged.

River level gauge

Standing at the bridge in Laragh look down stream. if the river looks low, it's unrunnable. if the rapids look fun and bouncy then it's medium. if the water is a brown wave-train then it's high and fun. As one very senior Irish paddler at this level commented to me on why they walked out (It's a bit too sportivo for some of the group).

Due to extensive clearfelling in this rivers catchment area, the river rises and falls much quicker than in previous years.

It is routine for a group to get on and get off at two different levels.

If you get on at a nice level and it is still raining, be prepared for a steady rise in level.

River Hazards

The boiling hole (V-e/Ve) and the boulder garden (IV+d) V in flood. For the Boiling Hole you'll need at minimum group of four paddlers all well clued in. One to cover entrance drop and two at bottom drop to protect for undercut. Dope on rope may be required here so be ready and tooled up

Also watch for downed lumber.


Original Author: Alan O Brien
Latest Author: Steven Fahy
(Full History)

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