Touring Trip Grades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to give you some idea of the type of trip and conditions you might experience trips are graded from A (lowest) to C (highest). They can vary from a day paddle on a sheltered inland loch to the exposed headlands, cliffs, crossings and tide races among some of
Scotland’s rugged coastline and islands. If you are a newcomer you should start off on a Grade A trip so that you can judge your capabilities against other paddlers and minimise the risk to yourself.

Grade A
is in sheltered water. You should be capable of paddling 20km (12 miles)per day in Force 2/3 conditions.

Grade B
is in more challenging waters and may include tidal streams, exposed headlands, and open crossings between islands. You should be capable of paddling 25km (16 miles) per day in up to Force 4 conditions. A Four Star paddler would feel comfortable on such a trip.

Grade C
You should be capable of paddling in more difficult conditions than Grade B for a longer time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International River Grading System

GRADE 1
Moving water, unobstructed and without technical difficulties. There may be small waves and riffles to challenge the paddler.

GRADE 2
Waves, small stoppers and other minor obstructions to avoid. Eddies and cushion waves may be strong.

GRADE 3

Waves, stoppers and technical difficulties are more severe. There may be drops and powerful constrictions. The main distinguishing factor of Grade 3 water is that the paddler will have to follow a recognisable route to avoid obstacles and hazards.

GRADE 4

Severe waves, drops, stoppers and other obstructions. The route is not easily recognisable and will usually require careful inspection from the boat or bank. Grade 4 encompasses a wide range of rivers, from those with pool-drop rapids to those with extended continuous rapids; so there is a huge variation in difficulty. It is common to distinguish easier grade 4 rapids by grading them as 4- and harder rapids as 4+ (or in some cases, 3/4 or 4/5).

GRADE 5

Extremely difficult rapids with precise and technically demanding routes to be followed. Stoppers, currents and waves will be powerful and inspection is essential.

GRADE 6
All of the above carried to extremes. Grade 6 usually means unrunnable rapids, which may just be possible in certain conditions.

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