A gloriously sunny day (if a little chilly) and just enough water (so the easy sections
passable without too much scraping) were what greeted the select band who traveled
to Teesdale for a bash down the Grade 4 drops.
After paying the access fee, a quick viewing of High Force (the chap selling tickets
informed you weren't allowed to paddle it - don't worry we weren't going to) and
a length walking, we set off on some easy - and shallow - rapids. After about a mile
of simple rapids and the odd small drop over bedrock shelves, we arrived at Salmon
Leap falls (aka the s-bend, aka the dog-leg).
After inspecting and stationing throw-lines, Les led off. His good initial line deteriorated
and narrowly avoided broaching on the second part of the drop. Undeterred, he then
executed a beautiful back loop and roll - and this was in his big boat!! Fortunately
(for him) camerawoman Sarah hadn't arrived at this point to record this (or laugh
at him). The others on the bank were wondering what they had let themselves in for!
Andy descended with no problem, although did thank Les for telling him to bring a
big boat. Pete came close to copying Les' back loop, and Lawrence abandoned his paddle
for the last part of the rapid. Moz took a swim at the top, but went back for another
go - making it most of the way down (see right) before revisiting the fishes.
After a quick cup of tea we headed on to the next challenge - Low Force. After more
inspection and positioning of safety, we were ready to go. Low Force is a 10-foot
drop which is relatively straight-forward. However, immediately above is a smaller
horseshoe fall, with a tricky line. All the more difficult because in the back of
your mind is the thought that if it all goes wrong there's the possibility of a swim
down the main fall.
This time led off, showing a good line to calm everyone's nerves. Next up was Pete,
who demonstrated how grippy the little fall was as he left his boat behind in it.
Next up was Andy, with a good line on both drops. (left: Andy's in there - after
dropping over Low Force Andy briefly disappears into the plunge pool - you can just
see his paddle blade on the surface!)
Having descended both parts of the fall, Moz tested the water temperature again as
the pile spat him out upside down. (Yes Moz - we know you'd have roll if you'd been
in your own boat).
After rejoining his boat, Pete ran the main drop (see right). Unfortunately getting
a slight angle on the drop which resulted in him being spat out at an angle! - resulting
in a swim with him boat squashing him against the side wall of the drop.
Finally came Lawrence who picked a great line down the small fall - infact so good
that he speed towards the left hand channel on the main drop! (the one we'd all decided
looked a bit rocky and uncomfortable) After a few reverse strokes it became apparent
that the only way was forward! After bumping down the fall and a brief battle to
stay upright, he duly came washing out at the bottom with his boat next to him. leaving
his paddle to be rescued from the island between the two falls.
With everyone re-united with boats and paddles, we headed off for the final little
drop (well relatively small) - a nice confidence booster for those unseated earlier
(see right) which all paddled with ease. A short paddle down under the Wynch Bridge
brought us to the end of the trip and a long-ish walk to the car.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable trip - short but certainly action packed!.
Finally, thanks to Sarah for bank support (photography, moral support and most importantly,
a supply of chocolate digestives!!)