Duff River, Co. Sligo

Length: 800 meters.
Grade: 3.
Location: Northwest Coast Co. Sligo on the Sligo/ Bundoran road (N15).

Quick description:

A few quick drops followed by one of the most fun waterfalls you will ever paddle.


Head north out the (N15) heading up the coast to Bundoran. About 6 kilometres after Cliffony you will come to a bridge Called bunduff bridge. The river is signposted on the main road. Parking is on the right on the Sligo side of the bridge.

Put-on is above the bridge on river-left. You can walk up the river left bank around the first bend to find a nice pool to launch into and warm up.
You can inspect the river all the way down the river-left bank. Wear good footwear as it is very mucky.

Take-out is above or below the main falls on river-left. portage back up to your car. Make sure to not break or damage anything.

The main issue with this river is access rights. This is a fishing river, and as such can not be paddled during fishing season. One of the land owners is quite a reasonable guy and is more than happy for us to paddle the river out of the fishing season. He does not want to have to put up with fishermen complaining after they have spent so much on their fishing permits. Please if at all possible, resist the lure of the great summer floods on this river. Dates of the fishing season are as follows. June-1st  to September-31st. Anyone telling you it is not permissible to paddle outside of fishing season can be ignored, but politely if possible.

River guide:

Snake your way down to the first rapid. The line is river-right, boofing the pour-over in lower levels. In higher levels the stopper here can eat you a little, so take river-left line on what will be a slide.

Second and third rapid come in quick succession. In lower levels just follow the main flow. In higher levels a left line is best to avoid stoppers.

It is plain sailing down to the eddy on river-left above the main falls. Make sure you inspect carefully so you don’t miss it and go directly over the falls, unless that is what you want to do. The eddy is small.

The lines down the main falls are usually what ever you like. Off the lip left or right for a boof, or down the middle of the V in the centre for a more cushioned  landing in lower flows. In high water it may be best to stick to a good fast boof off the lip. In flood the tow-back can be pretty extreme, so set up throw-bags, or just skip it. Use good judgement on that one.
The base of the drop is probably one of the safest you will find on a drop of this size. It takes real effort to find the river bed below it. Landing too flat in a play-boat can sometimes hurt, and the fall has a small cave behind it which is possible, but highly unlikely to get put in.

In medium flows you can run the staired channel on river-right. Watch for a pinning on the step, and in lower water watch the rooster-tail at the base of the drop, river-left which could damage boats. Mind your elbows all the way down. This is more technical than the rest of the river, so be wary.


This is probably the safest grade 3 river I have ever seen. Lines are clear, rescue is easy, rocks are not too sharp, and there is minimal risk of strainers. It is still a grade 3 river, so if you are not up to the standard it is probably best to go find something easier. The main hazard would possibly be overconfidence, and landing too flat with bad posture and injuring your back. But then it is a 12ish foot waterfall after all.

If the water is too high, the stopper on the first drop, river-right can get very sticky. Avoid. The stopper on the main falls gets nasty in very high water.  Avoid.

Water levels:

This river can be paddled as long as there is enough lubrication going over the falls to allow you to slide over. It can also be paddled right up to about flood-stage. A nice medium flow is ideal. The river responds very quickly to rain. If it rains for a few hours, the river rises. A few hours later it will have lost most of its water. But it can still be runable for a few days after rain, just in lower more scrappy condition.If the river is too high, you can tell by the tow-back on the main falls. If the tow-back on the stopper below the main falls is a bit much to consider, go find another river.