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The Tees is a big river, with lots of sections that can be paddled. The stretch from Middleton in Teesdale down to Cotherstone is new to most at the Club, and certainly a trip we haven’t done for many years.

But before the river there was time for tea, cakes or bacon butties at Scotch Corner (except for those with a SatNav programmed to visit every McD’s on route).

So to Middleton, even this high up in Teesdale the river is wide and can be carrying a lot of volume (a similar size to the Eden), running through some great scenery - even in the rain – and after plenty of garde 2, livens up with some tricky grade 3 rapids towards the end on the classic ‘racecourse’ section of the Tees. Although Tom, Stuart and Ian had that ’is that it’ look on their faces at the get it – perhaps they thought we were heading to the harder low force section further up the valley.

The river has two distinct characters, for the first four miles it meanders along with lots of long wide but straight-forward rapids coming quickly after each other. Not far from the start a small weir that looked little more than a ripple provided some entertainment with a grippy little stopper to play in. Along the way there were enough play waves to keep the interest of those who wanted then – a nice eddies for those more inclined to watch.

After Egglestone Bridge things change a bit, the river banks steepened, and occasional rock walls tower over the river. It seemed gloomy and foreboding – but that was probably just because the misty rain had transformed itself to persistent rain!

Small rock shelves create small drop and bigger boulders made for bigger rapids, complete with big bouncy waves, nicely warming everyone up for what lay ahead – Wodden Croft, three more notable rapids where the river dropped away more sharply on sharp bends. Having paddled this section a few weeks before with very low levels, today was a different proposition. Where rock dodging had been the main issue, higher level offered several lines and several stoppers ready to catch and eat the unwary. These did indeed prove to be more tricky, with the first two rapids both managing to unseat a paddler each. And at least one other paddler narrowly avoiding some ‘stopper time’. The third on these drops must have been in a good mood and choose not to eat anybody! Not long after the gorge opened out and Cotherstone footbridge and the get out came into view.

So as a ‘new’ trip for the Club will we do it again? I think so, all enjoyed it and it is a classic grade 2-3 trip. There’s good paddling all the way, with something to interest/excite/push people depending on your point of view

Les Ford