Eden – Lazonby to Armathwaite

Thursday 20th January 2022

With little water about Brian chose the Eden this week for his Beginners/Improvers group. At 0.75 he was predicting a bit of a scrape – as it turned out it was just right for us.

With a range of experience in the group ranging from returning paddlers getting back into the groove to first time on white water we had a thorough briefing in the warmish winter sunshine before getting out onto the less than warmish water.

The first smooth half a mile helped get rid of the wobbles and we were soon getting to grips with the first of the rapids. Brian was watching our efforts carefully and decided that a little breaking in and out practice was the order of the day.

Into the cliff lined section and the rapids got a little more bouncy; but the slightly nervous smiles at the briefing were rapidly turning into big grins accompanied by the occasional unseemly “whoopin’ and a hollerin'”

The breaking in and out practice was really paying off as we we’re now able to break out into the eddies on the sunny side of the river by choice rather than chance!

Everyone negotiated Nun’s rapid in one piece but we decided that the name conjours up images of less successful capsized nuns!

On arriving at Armathwaite Weir we faced the most risky part of the trip; trying to clamber about on the ice covered rocks to inspect. Did someone mention a WhatsApp thread about footwear, Palm crampons?

We all made our run or portage choices and agreed that it was much less scary once you’d committed down the tongue.

The great thing about the egress at Armathwaite is the welcoming fire in the Fox and Pheasant. Thanks to Shaw for getting the coffees, from Natalie, Graeme, Brian and Eric. And special thanks to Brian for organising things and looking after us all.

Apologies – no photos.

Playing on the Kent

Improvers Trip 15/01/2022

Attendees: Paul S, Dan, Simon L, Julian

Level: 0.47m

On low levels, the Kent is a great play spot.  It’s a short run, but with lots of interest tightly packed. After some faffing about with parking, and practicing paddle strokes on flat water, we straight down to Gun Powder gorge.  A grade 3 drop at most at these levels, but with excellent eddies below perfect for ferry glide and eddy practice.  With easy and tricky lines to pick from, everyone was soon safely below the main drop and settling in to ferrying about.

We worked on crossing the eddy line with speed, using the stopper to surf across and staying upright when messing up using the stopper to surf across.  It’s pretty tiring ferrying back and forth one hundred and thirty-seven times.  This became apparent as Dan dropped lower and lower into the eddy until eventually getting a chance to show off his self-rescue skills.  We managed to get a much-earned rest and snack break in the sunshine, within, what we had all concluded, was a very dark and bleak valley.

An easy paddle onward with a brief play on the rocks and surf wave below Gunpowder Gorge and it was an early finish of 1pm for some home brownie points for once.

Stoppers & Surfing; a Descent of the Leven with Purpose.

Anticipating a general lack of water Steve Ed cannily put on a trip down that old faithful – the Leven. But with a purposeful twist – a focus on stoppers and surfing. Hoping to beat the crowds we arranged a relatively early start but even so, by the time we launched there was a large party on the water ahead and others gathering behind. Steve gave a useful intro to what he hoped we might be working on, and a couple of top tips on things to think about.

Working hard

The brick-chute provided the first opportunity to put theory into practice and attempt to follow his example, rather tentatively at first but gradually with increasing confidence. As we stuttered slowly down river, from playwave to stopper to playwave, the morning rush-hour of kayakers all passed by and left us behind, so no pressure to `perform`. Backbarrow Bridge had been assessed previously and so was run straight through – with 100% success in terms of staying upright, if not in terms of lines taken. Continuing to find features to practice skills on the group members were now pushing their comfort zones – with resulting rolls required from time to time.

All aboard

Arriving at the get-out after 2.5 hours of repeated hard paddling effort was something of a relief physically (for me at least). However, it was clear that all participants had got a great deal out of the unrushed approach, `playing` to their heart’s content, and attempting to implement the tips generously offered.

This was Steve’s maiden voyage as a LCC River Leader – a great success, many thanks.

Paddlers; Steve Ed, Sten Sture, Rhod V, Rachel T (pics), Brian C, Mark McG & John H (words)

Rawthey better than expected

Intermediate river trip 9/01/22

You wouldn’t believe it, but 24 hours earlier the rivers were all in spate. Roll on 24 hours and it was a struggle to find a river with water other than the usual suspects.
Aha a river section that had eluded me so far though was the lower Rawthey, that will do then. Still showing on medium.
The night before I had thought it would be nice to run the upper and lower sections together. However this was thwarted when I checked levels in the morning. I Should have known really.
A late addition to the group saw Mike H and John H taking the numbers to seven.
Meeting at the egress we made the shuttle up to the put in at Sedburgh new road bridge, but before we could get the boats off Mike had suggested we might go and have a look at the upper section first just in case (Mike’s knowledge in play here I think). We stopped at the first bridge for a look, possible, then a bit further up where we could see the river from the road, still possible, so a bit further, and nope that’s too low. So back down to a point where we all thought that it will go. We put on then just above Cautley Beck where there’s a convenient foot bridge and ample parking.

The water was flowing and covering the river bed just enough to get moving. Then as the river starts to constrict it gets easier to paddle. Not far from the put in then we arrived at one of the main features, Loup falls, a tricky three tier drop which even at low levels can be awkward to navigate. We all got out to inspect and it has to said the bank above the falls is littered with junk, spilling over from the premises above. This really needs reporting as it’s a real blight on the landscape.
Back to the river then, everyone negotiated the falls ok, one roll required. Result.
From here down the river delights, with lots of rapids leading us through gorges and at this level plenty of play waves and stoppers.
One portage was required when we came across a river wide tree and we decided not to run the final exit slot at the bottom of the gorge.
More rapids had us approaching the end of the upper section and where the Clough joins. A much bigger and wide river now. Two hours up so far.
Onto the bottom section now, running the first weir we came to down the middle shoot. A few more minor rapids and more play waves and then onto the main event, Railway falls.
Not inspecting and personally not having seen it before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but with Mike leading us in we all followed his line, a tight slot to start and then another pour over and we were through. A few paddle scrapes and another roll.
After this it was on to the Lune for a few hundred yards then the trudge up to the cars.
Three and a half hours well spent and in great company.
Level was about 1.2m or lower. Good to know for future reference.
Paddlers Mike, John H, Steve Ed, Duncan, Pete, guest Adam and me.
Mark M

Taking it easy on the Eamont

Tuesday 11th January 2022

Sten laid on a mellow Easy River trip that was thoroughly enjoyed by Julian, Shaw, Mark, Mike, John Speakman and Mike H. We started by the shiny new stainless steel bridge at Pooley Bridge and set off down the gently flowing Eamont as the sun shone.

The first small weir was soon reached and successfully splashed through and the next few miles were spent pleasantly drifting past the tree lined banks. Much practicing of break outs took place where the water flowed more swiftly with only one minor mishap. 
 Stainton Island was the next rapid of note with a small drop made slightly tricky by large boulders which had a gravitational attraction to less experienced paddlers.  

Following a civilised lunch in the sun  taken on a grassy river bank our guard must have dropped because shortly after setting off again we suddenly were made aware by John that Mike was swimming behind us following an over enthusiastic break out gone bad due to a rock and a tree.  John did the important water rescue stuff and Mike H then demonstrated the walking on water method of recovering the boat.  Now more alert, we avoided fallen trees, played in the boiling water below the impressive West Coast Mainline viaduct, slid down a sloping Weir, dropped over a steep Weir and finished the day just upstream of historic Brougham Castle. 

 A lovely day and some useful learning was appreciated by all and Sten proved the perfect group lead, even providing cakes all round.

Really Rawthey High

Saturday 8th January

River: Lower Rawthey, 2.1m

After deciding to go to the Rawthey, and on seeing it rise within the half hour faff period, we bumped into Dave Hewitt at the bridge in Sedbergh.  Dave was looking with consternation at an impressively high river Rawthey.  Mark, Mark, and Dave were doing their own trip on this day, and their plans had gone out the window with the rapidly rising river.  My plan was simpler.  Run the lower Rawthey on high, portage if we need to.

Five of us on the improvers trip today, two had paddled this exact river, at this (almost) exact level, with me a few weeks prior on my assessment day.  I had the benefit of knowing what to expect, and I was not disappointed.

Chris tipped in at the exact same point as on the previous trip.  At least I was prepared for it this time, and Chris was quickly on the bank with his paddle.  What I wasn’t quite prepared for, was the significant effort it would be to find an appropriate eddy to which to shove his flooded boat.  500m down river I dragged it out, emptied it and left it peacefully sitting in someone’s garden.  I was glad to see Chris and Rhod had walked down to meet me.  Suggesting Chris ask politely at the house to have his boat back, I had a walk back with Rhod to the top to meet the group.

The Rawthey isn’t that hard in high water.  There’s not massive holes or nasty tree hazards.  All the features remain reasonable.  It does have a lack of eddies though, so picking our way down, always having a plan of where to go, although the right way, isn’t the easiest.  After only one other swim, we were on to a very meaty looking Railway Falls.  I always portage this on improvers trips anyway, but it was an impressive sight.  Some lines actually running easier than usual, but a huge recirculating hole is waiting if you mess it up.

A ginormous fallen Oak blocked the penultimate move of the day.  Russell taking pride in telling me it was about seventy tons of wood.  I’m certain he wasn’t far off.  We had a way out up the footpath though, so took the choice to walk out, quickly changing my mind as I realised the huge eddy formed behind the fallen tree.  We easily sneaked past and gathered for the ferry across to the get out.  With the force of the water today, this required determination.  Chris didn’t quite have enough, and enjoyed a bonus rapid below.  I was glad to find him smiling in the eddy below the bridge.  Everyone else made it across, each learning something in the process.

We rarely paddle high water, but I think there is something to be learned from doing so.  You obviously have to plan well, and be organised on the water, but this was great.  A challenging trip and vastly different than usual.


Long run on the Kent

Sunday 2nd January

I’d promised something different, so when the rain didn’t fall, I had to think of something.  Various guides describe linking the Mint, or the Sprint to the lower Kent.  Sounded like a great idea to me.  We met just above Force Falls, the tree below L shared weir has gone, but today it looked pretty meaty on the Kent.  Several hadn’t paddled the Kent this high, and a couple, barely ever had, so we took a walk and inspected all the big bits at the bottom, with Force Falls looking “sporty”.

It’s a long shuttle to the top of the Mint, as I found at the end of the day as it was getting dark!  Wasn’t long before we were sorted, briefed and on the water.  Pete and Duncan almost immediately testing their drysuit material on a wire fence.  The first rapid was tricky with a downed tree.  Not dangerous, just awkward.  The Mint felt lower than expected, but the main rapids were still challenging.  Bar Duncan getting momentarily pinned on a tree, in flat water, there was no drama of note.  One of the smoothest trips on, what I always consider to be an awkward river.  Onward to the Kent.

It’s not far through Kendal on the Kent, and there was a good flow, but it still felt like an age.  It’s wide, slow, flat, and today, windy.  No choice but to press on with limited daylight to work with.  Even the impressive looking surf waves on the weirs we had to skip.  The big weir in the centre requiring a muddy and difficult climb over railings to portage.  Not a massive issue, considering when you see the weir, running it definitely isn’t an option.

Dropping into the classic Kent section from Scroggs Weir, Brian found that this was actually pretty sticky.  It’s not normally! We were upon Gunpowder Gorge before we knew it.  Stopping river left (as usual) to inspect, Brian and Mark were sent onwards to show how it’s done, both taking exactly the same line, both splashing through a couple of chunky features without issue.  Pete hadn’t paddled the Kent for a long time, I was glad to see him through safely and jumped in my boat ready to go.  Just that instant Pete got caught out on, what today were significant holes after the main drop.  Brian and Mark got this all sorted in short order, and I blasted on downward with many support strokes to check all was OK.  Pleased to see everyone smiling, almost, we signalled Paul and Duncan through one by one, both nailing the smoothest line through.

L shaped weir and the drop above were quickly negotiated without incident, other than a quick roll by yours truly, mostly out of sight, as the tail of my Ripper got caught on, well, could have been anything really.  Onward to Force Falls!  Mark first, taking a centre right line, into the hole.  We mostly all took this line.  Further right was rocks, further left was heading the wrong way.  We all rolled, apart from Paul, who took a line further left and ended up stuck against the undercut rocks river left.  No change of rolling there, he had to give in despite actually being 80% upright by the time he did.  He was just beached on the rocks.  Duncan did a cracking job of emptying Paul’s boat on the water (spot the sea kayaker) but managed to drop his paddle in the process.  We got it all sorted within a couple of minutes, and we had the, longer than I remember, walk back up to the top of Force Lane to the cars.

Finishing up just before dark, this was a long trip, and everyone was knackered.  It really was a proper full day on the water though, and something I’ll remember for a long time.  Not one to do every week, but definitely one worth doing.


High on the Ingleton Greta

8th January 2022

The day started with no water in the rivers so decisions about where to go were a bit of a guess.  We met at the bottom of the Roeburn but it was massive and rising so we scuttled off to somewhere we thought might be lower.

Not much water at the takeout of the Ingleton Greta: Oh well that will do: enough to paddle but nothing different.  By the time we had got to the top the warm rain (8 deg C; balmy after 3 deg C yesterday) had filled the river along with melting the snow and bringing that too. It was now rather high. The briefing focused on “Keep in the middle of the river” as to avoid the many tree branches now dangling in, rather than above the water. It was a blast and sometimes felt almost alpine with the speed of the water and the wave trains. The occasional eddy was used to bring down heart rates. The rapid after Burton bridge was notable with its larger than usual waves and holes along with a couple of other places to be avoided lower down. We inspected the main fall and we all soon decided the best line was on the bank bypassing both drops. The get out was the usual one at a time job, but the level was almost that of the bank: no steep clamber up today.

Not many pictures today as hands were mostly firmly on paddles.

Pictures are: Main fall and take out.

It was a real team trip today, so thanks everyone: Mike H, John H, Nigel H and Harvey A

Written by Rachel P

That’s not the Greta

Overnight rain fell as snow, so the expected Greta did not flow, so to another river we had to go.

Ah to Tom Croft Cave, low but flowing, is where we were going.

To start flow was low, but enough to go.

To a weir, where the yellow boat did something queer.

On past the mill, over the sill(s) to the final plop on the last drop, boof left gave a thrill.

Join the second river, now flowing more, the coldness already seemed raw.

The Orange and the Yellow tapped sides in a hole, impressive bracing prevented an own goal.

More waves to play but keeping going , too cold to delay.

The third river joined with just as much water, explaining the levels seen as they ought.

The red, blue, yellow and orange span in some holes, seems to get dizzy became their goals.

Which way is it?

The next, usual inspection, was forsaken, so straight past the undercut rock became the route taken.

The yellow, orange,blue and red paddled at 1.1 on the gauge. Wonder where it was? Definitely not the Greta!

Mike H Friday 7th Jan

Rising Ribble

Thursday 30/12/21

Catching the river level at just the right height is often by luck than judgement. So when trying to choose a river that wasn’t falling, not to pushy a grade and ideal for a mixed group of abilities I decided the Ribble ticked the boxes. Travel arrangements made via WhatsApp and an update on the calendar we agreed a meeting time of 10.15am at the egress. Now before I left home I checked the gauge (Locks weir gauge) for this section and we were still looking good, climbing slowly and just above low @ 0.43, with a bit of luck this would get up to about 0.5 before falling again, fingers crossed. Arriving at Settle the rain was still falling; had the level come up I wondered, well judging by peoples faces and the roar of rapid water I think I had my answer. In fact we were up to 0.7 and still going (0.82 being high). Hmmmm We had two paddlers getting back into whitewater and one that had not paddled this river before and although experienced meant we had some decisions to make. With options discussed we changed and headed up to have a look at the meat of this river, a grade 4 500m section known as twin bridges. This section at low levels is technical but at today’s level is big continuous wave trains with some large holes. Not an easy rapid and a swimmer would have a long and uncomfortable swim. At this stage Mark G decided he wasn’t getting on, describing it as “above my pay grade “ which is a call many don’t have the courage to do. ( we can all walk away when you don’t feel it’s right for you, it’s always there to come back to. Good call Mark). More chat and it was agreed that we would all put in at Horton, a few miles further up giving Mark G the chance to get on the water, if only for a short trip, getting off at Helwith Bridge, the normal put on. Rain still falling it was now on 0.74 and still climbing, eek. A quick shuttle for Mark G and the now routine briefing and we were on. A nice warm up with a few play waves and steady grade 2/2+. Before we new it Helwith Bridge was looming. If you wanted to get off now was the time. Down to seven then we agreed running order and off we went. Mark G would meet us later at Stainforth Force. The water was brown and fast moving, so keeping a tight group was key. The first rapid straight from the put in, a series of shelves had us on our toes, then the second rapid required inspecting, lines chosen and cleanly through we were soon approaching the Twin bridges. Through the first bridge we all eddied out on river left as a closer inspection was required if we were to run it. Five decided to walk this small section with Brian and myself opting to run it.

With safety arranged but not required we all enjoyed the rest of this long rapid. From here down to Stainforth Force we were treated to continuous grade 3 rapids and wave trains, great fun. Walking the walled in drop of Stainforth is a compulsory requirement. We caught up with Mark G here but he had decided not to get back on, choosing instead to head off and get warmed up. From here more grade 3, then two weirs, the first one normally run far right we walked, the second runnable, again far right with half the group running it. Then the last hooray, queens rock, a 3m drop down under the foot bridge and our get out. A brilliant day with testing conditions and still raining when we got off, the river continued to climb peaking at around 1.1m.

Only thing left to do then was coffee and cakes at the old woollen mill.

Paddlers: Mike H, Brian, Pete, Mark W, Chris, Rob, Mark G and me, Mark M