Upper Wharfe, Middle Wharfe, 2010-01-17

Posted by Andy Waddington on 2010-01-17

Having not paddled the Wharfe for a long time, Neil's "IV-ish" trip visited both the Upper and Middle Wharfe in the same day. I think we had been hoping for water in some of the more exciting tributaries, but the snow was persisting, and so there was just enough water to do the Upper Wharfe.

Early on the Upper Wharfe. Photo: Andy Waddington
Jim, early on the Upper Wharfe. Photo: Andy Waddington

This started out as a bit of a ditch, but soon a series of ledge drops brightened things up, and one or two were intricate enough to need a bit of inspection. I failed to paddle back upstream far enough after my inspection of one, and so my ferry glide across didn't leave me time to turn and get the line I wanted. This resulted in a swim in very cold water. Further down, an innocuous looking rapid didn't go to plan, as two of us managed to capsize. Pete, however, rolled up...

The first of several ledge drops. Photo: Andy Waddington
Pete on the first of several ledge drops. Photo: Andy Waddington

From Hubberholme, it was back in the cars and down to Conistone to do the Middle. For some reason, a lot more snow seemed to have melted in Littondale, so the Skirfare was biggish, and there was plenty of water for the Wharfe, which went at quite a fast pace. Conistone Falls has two lines in different guidebooks - either in the middle or down the right. We didn't fancy either, so found a line into a boof off the left hand side. The other Pete had a roll here, but we were soon on our way down to Ghaistrill's strid. I remember this from walks as a long narrow channel, but it looks a bit different with more water. The first section went fairly well, but then the rapid following the strid itself was quite bouncy with the odd rock to trip up the unwary (or unlucky - I was probably unwary but lucky on this one:)

The big weir above Linton. Photo: Andy Waddington
Pete on the big weir above Linton. Photo: Andy Waddington

Down through Grassington soon leads to a biggish weir, where much debate over whether the easy line was left or right was resolved by a quick bank inspection which proved the majority view to be wrong, so probably just as well to have looked. It's just a big swoosh down into a stopper and out into the eddy, then a much easier weir sidled past on the left, to a get out above Linton Falls. This looked pretty heinous at the level we had, so no-one was prepared to venture into it this week. Thus it was fortunate that Pete Ball's programmed meet for the following week was - the Middle Wharfe.

Article and photographs copyright © Andy Waddington 2010

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