Dunniel River, Co. Sligo

Length: 2km
Grade: 3-4
Location: Dromore West, Co. Sligo.

Quick description:

A banging start with two nice falls. Most of the rest is scant on eddy service and is mostly tucked into a gorge precluding easy swimmer rescue. The whole thing is narrow, shallow, tree-filled and rescue unfriendly. But has some nice lines and drops to make up for all this.

Access:

Take the N4 from Sligo. Turn off and go through Ballisodare. Take the N59 from Ballisodare to Dromore West. Park somewhere out of the way in the village.
You can inspect the first two falls from the bridge in Dromore West.

To get to the Take-out, take the right turn in Dromore West onto R297 signposted for Easkey, then take the next right. Continue along here until you get to the bridge just over 1km along this road. Park at this bridge. Keep well in so other traffic is not obstructed.

There is a walkway that runs nearly the entire way along the river, from Dromore West. This is handy to get a view of what you are in for.

When you get to the mill, the walkway takes a diversion around private land. If possible, do not go onto the private land. If you must venture onto it, pop in to the mill and ask permission. The land owner is very nice and is supportive of paddlers doing their thing on the river. But he has planted the woodland on river-right side of the mill rapids with exotic ferns and the like which we will probably not even notice in our trampling. There is virtually no use in any bank-based safety from here anyway, so your best bet is to just send the strongest paddlers down first to set up chase boating positions.

River guide:

To put-on walk into the mill area (mill in Dromore West, not the one halfway down the river) and climb up the old millrace behind the building. Seal-launch in just above the drop on river left. this drop is a pretty straightforward group of steps. Little boof-strokes off them all are fun.

The second fall under the road is taken on the left with a good stroke on your right side as the river will kick to the right on landing. If you go too right on this drop you can get broached in a bunch of partially sunken tree roots and junk.

The rest of the river down to the lower mill is all read-and-run grade 3 stuff. Main things to be aware of here are the trees, brambles and the fact that any swimmer is in for a potentially long and nasty swim as you are in a gorge.
 
The entry of the lower mill section is identifiable by the small concrete bridge over the river.

The eddy above the bridge on river right is the top eddy for this set.

The lower mill rapid is made up of two drops followed by a constriction. Take the first drop on the left or right. It is very shallow here so, for left line boof and curl up ready to land about 6 foot onto barely wet rock. Right line leads down a twisty slide. Slightly less rock impact.

This leads straight into the second drop of the lower mill section. It will try take you left, but work it as right as you can. It’s a straight boof, no problem. Going with the flow left will deposit you in a slot against a vertical rock face. Probably not fun.

There is an eddy directly below the second drop on the right. Directly behind this eddy is the constriction in plain sight.

The constriction is a rock filled slide between two vertical walls about 4 feet wide. There is a small hole at the base, but you should have enough speed to go through no problem. Once one paddler is through you can set up some safety below from the stone slabs on river right if needed.

From here on down there are two more grade 3 drops on the way down. The first one is read and run. Simple. The second has a channel on the right you can take or a lip on the left you can boof.

By now you will be at the bridge. Go under it and on downstream until you see a grassy slipway on river-left for feeding cattle or something. The walkway that comes from Dromore West runs above it. Get out here ,climb onto the walkway and walk up to the bridge.

Hazards:

Strainers. This is a very narrow gorge river with plenty of trees and branches. There is even a chance of there being river-wide strainers from time to time in here, so stay awake.
Like mentioned, most of the river is in a gorge and the flow is pretty consistent with few eddies and not a lot of depth. This is really not a good river for people who still occasionally swim. Although the rapids themselves are not madly hard, the complications arising from messing up are a bit higher than on a lot of other rivers.

Remember! If you need to cross onto private land at the lower mill, make sure to go up to the mill house and politely ask if it is ok first!!! And watch your footing for trampling their plants. It is nice to have a river that is not rotten with fishermen for those summer floods, so be nice to the locals as they have been nice to us.

Water levels:

The Dunniell responds very quickly to rain. It takes a good solid bit of rain to get it going, then once the rain stops you have hours to get onto it before it is all low and scrappy. When paddling after rain you can actually see it dropping.