Another “Summer” white water paddle
River Tees Race Course, Saturday 7th July.
by Ian Graystone
The title is not sarcastic ingratitude. The rain gods have been good to the white water paddlers so far this summer and for some the tap was turned on a little bit too hard for a little too long. I hope anyone who has suffered as a result of the un-seasonal weather is getting back to normal as quickly as possible. On Thursday 5th I found myself driving up the main street in Barnard Castle against a river of water heading for the quickest way into the River Tees.
In light of the unseasonably high river levels, Dave Peel had offered co-ordinated a white water trip for Saturday. With many river levels dropping off he opted for the Race Course section of the River Tees. The Middleton gauge was still at just over a metre following Thursday and Friday’s rain.
There were five people who braved the sun, yes sun, and met at Cotherstone. Dave P, Jim P, Ann, Paul and myself. Following introductions and Dave’s account of his Balder trip the previous day, we headed to Middleton for the put-in. The measuring wear at Middleton was reading 1 metre. The first rapid beside the caravan park set the scene for the day, a big hole followed by a long roller-coaster of a wave train. We got to Eggleston without a scrape, floating along on bumpy fast moving water. Not something I have experienced before. From Eggleston we entered the more technical stretch of the trip. Before Woden Croft there were a number of stretches that offered the brave a place to play on the standing waves.
Terry at Woden Croft (a couple of weeks earlier in similar levels)
With the prevailing water levels it was possible to paddle Woden Croft on the inside of the bend and then just attack the bottom drop and waves. The next drop looked interesting and inviting (I think its name has some reference to fairies?). Dave and Jim inspected from the water and elected to boof off the water pouring over some rocks on river right. This boof then punching them through the wall of water this pour over caused. I watched as Ann then followed their lead. Ann dropped over the rocks and disappeared for a moment. I was wondering if the power put in before the wave would be enough to see her punch through it. I was happy to see her emerge down river on the following waves. I elected to take what I saw as a safer route around the biggest drops and stoppers. From here it was a steady run into the take out at Cotherstone.
It was a very pleasant trip for practicing and enjoying white water paddling skills.
Thanks to Dave P for co-ordinating the trip.
Article copyright © Ian Graystone 2012; photograph copyright © Pete Ball 2012