Home Canoeing Favourite River trips
Favourite River trips Print E-mail
Written by Andy Waddington   
Monday, 10 May 2010 11:51

These pages contain descriptions and photographs of a number of the rivers which appear most frequently on our quarterly programme, or which we often use for fall-back trips or short notice paddles. Because they are so familar to club members, they tend to be under-represented in trip write-ups, but they are perhaps the rivers that new or prospective club members might most want to know about before joining a club trip. We've also extended the concept to cover a set of rivers in the alps where we have paddled over many years, and some SOC intend to return again this year, although a second front has been opened from a base in Austria. As this list grows, you may find this page splits into several, but the basic format will remain. Click on the river name to link to the trip descriptions.

Dales Rivers
Middle Swale
The classic section from Grinton to Richmond. Description adapted from our river guide used for the Swale Charity Paddle. As access has now got much easier, and the river can be paddled when the water level is right, rather than on a single weekend, whatever the conditions, this event no longer serves a purpose.
Upper Swale
The EA gauge has made catching the Upper at the right level much easier, so now we have a guide (with video) for the Upper Swale too.
River Tees
There are several sections of the Tees that the club frequently paddles, and some stretches can be continued along into the next. We often use the Racing Stretch (Middleton or Eggleston to Cotherstone), the Cotherstone to Barnard Castle section, and Abbey Rapids (below Barney) as fall-back trips when other rivers are not in condition. Being dam-fed in its upper reaches, the Tees will often go in drier conditions, and the Low Force section has been popular in summer.
River Greta (Teesdale)
The Greta is hard to catch at a good level, so rarely if ever appears in the programme. But is is an excellent choice if the heavens open and has proven a good fallback on two occasions when the Upper Tees was bigger than we wanted to paddle. It's also been a short-notice trip on several occasions recently, including midweek trips.
Tees Tribs
If the Greta is hard to catch, then the many smaller and steeper tributaries are even more of a challenge, but there is some fine spate paddling in the dale, including Bowlees Beck, Hudeshope Burn, Eggleston Burn, and even Little Eggleshope Beck (a true ditch).
River Wear
There are three sections in the scenic part of Weardale, further upstream needing more water and being somewhat harder. The river takes a bit of catching, as it is prone to rise and fall very quickly. Our Boxing Day trip is often the section much further downstream from Durham to Finchale Priory.
River Wharfe
The Upper (and smaller tributaries) down to Hubberholme provides a quiet run with ledge drops and bouncy rapids, getting a grade harder in high water. This can make a fine summer evening run after a big thunderstorm.
The Middle from Kettlewell or Conistone down to Linton needs slightly less water and is suitable for almost anyone, as the hardest bits are easily portaged. At grade 3, you can run all of it except Linton Falls at the end, which are an entertaining little test piece with a "viewing gallery" on the footbridge.
Lake District and western Rivers
Keswick Greta
A sustained and entertaining, mostly grade 3 river in the Lake District which has an excellent access agreement and is very easy to get to along the A66. At lower levels it is an excellent trip for improvers whilst providing a fast and exciting run in spate for the more confident.
River Kent
A useful river if levels are not high, giving fine sport too if the water is up. It is a fishing river, so be considerate out of season. There are a few drops and hard rapids which make this one of our harder rivers, but if these are portaged, it can be a pleasant trip even for relative beginners.
River Lune
The Lune, too, remains paddleable for a long time after rain, and is usually at an adequate level all winter unless there's a really prolonged freeze. It's a varied river with gorge sections and more relaxed shingle parts. It can be run with a couple of portages, which avoid anything above grade 3, but also provides a minor test piece in the Strid half a mile below Lincoln's Inn Bridge. The usual run is from Crook of Lune to Killington New Bridge, but can be continued down beyond the Rawthey confluence (two weirs, the second almost always portaged).
River Duddon
Being quite a long way to drive, and not that easy to catch at a good level, the Duddon doesn't get done anywhere near as often as we'd like, but it is an excellent 6 miles of mostly grade 3, peaking at grade 4 on three or four rapids.
River Leven
Being fed by the largest lake in the area, the Leven often stays up longer than other rivers, so is a good fallback in falling levels. Conversely, it takes a while to get going after rain. Most notable for it's drops and weirs, with rapids in between to keep you interested, the hardest drop (apart from a weir which is almost a compulsory portage) is Backbarrow Bridge Falls.
River Nith
The Nith is in the Scottish borders and is about as far away as we drive for a day trip. It doesn't need a lot of water, and is a very fine trip at both low and medium levels, with an easier warm-up section followed by a narrower gorge with some interesting rapids. Our description is still a bit minimal, but there is a video shot over the course of two club trips.
Further afield
Weekend or longer trips to other areas of the UK

Coming soon: Scotland Wet West, Grampians East, and North Wales
Alpine Rivers

These trips in the alps are all headed Argentière, but this is merely our usual base. The trips are spread out mostly in the valleys of the Durance and its tributaries from above Briançon to Embrun.
Argentière: harder rivers
The alps are a bit different from here at home, so grades 3 and 4 don't seem to mean quite the same thing. They may not be do-or-die but we have certainly found them testing enough to provide us with a lot of entertainment and a few heart-stopping moments. Here's a few of the harder rivers we've dared.
Argentière: easier trips
The alps isn't all do-or-die grade 4 and 5 horror shows with icy water and rockfalls or fallen trees round every blind bend. There are some excellent rivers both for family holidays and for any paddler wanting a bit of whitewater in hot sunshine when English rivers are dry and full of those who would dispute access. This page briefly introduces some of the trips we tend to do on holidays in the Briançon area.
Argentière: Park and Play
Not all day every day is spent paddling, but for those who need a quick fix on days when Canyons, Mountains or Vias Ferrata have claimed their attentions, there are several places which satisfy that craving, some of which are available after the main rivers have closed at 6 p.m. Of course, most of these spots are also suitable for a half day or so of practicing technique, too and are great spots if you have a tame photographer (or prefer to take them yourself).
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 March 2014 10:45
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