The day of the Rothay or the River Tees (24 Nov 2013)

The week before the trip the rain stopped. Nice blue skies, lovely for walking in’t dales but I wanted some water. The days went by with no or very little rain. Saturday came along and there was no chance of paddling this picturesque river in the Lake District. So where to go with no rain? We had a couple of choices; the Wharfe, the Tees or maybe as far as the Calder! We chose the Tees. The weather was fine as we set off and on the motorway we even had a little rain. A stop at the lay-by at Scotch Corner and as we munched through a breakfast butty a car full of kayakers drove in, we had chosen the right river! We called in at Barnard Castle to scout Abbey rapids before heading off to Cotherstone where we were soon changed and ready. A quick brief on hand signals and dealing with rocks and then off. The river was certainly low but paddleable. Once warmed up we headed straight down on to the first shallow rapid for a good gentle start. At the second rapid the water runs from the right to the left and back again. Following the water is the best way as it is normally deep.  I looked for a high small break out but it was guarded by small rocks so I took a break at the bottom in a small eddy. With the others behind I hoped they would follow and I moved across to the large area on river right. Pete followed my route , Mike paddled straight to me not following the flow and got stuck, Liane followed to try and help Mike getting stuck herself and then rescued by Mike himself. At the next rapid we practised catching eddies looking at where the water was going, this spaced the group out a little and we all made it down fine. At the bottom the water flowed well and we ferried across and back adjusting our trim for the water and the fact that we were carrying some kit. The next rapid had a good rock that gave a lovely fast current on to deep water where we worked on breaking in using a carving motion. Next there was a set of wave trains and we used these to surf and ferry across and back. Pete caught me up in an eddy before the next rapid and I asked him to wait as I wanted to get a good position at an eddy half way down. I took a wide line into the eddy on the left so I could see the line to take and signal to the others. Pete took a more direct line catching a tree and losing his paddle. Mike and Liane followed to help Pete, getting stuck themselves but with good team work all was sorted. All got through and learnt a lot by this. Back on the water following lunch I saw a tree followed by a bigger drop and thought Ooops. Placing the group in an eddy I peered over the edge. It was a tricky drop and grade 3 at a higher level but not today. A straight line on the right avoiding a coffin shaped rock and a vertical drop of 1.5 meters took you into a trench with a stopper made by a line of rocks with water foaming on top. Peter followed me a little to the right but he was over and safe. Mike went a little further right but came over and dropped nicely and through. Liane  came over on the far right and a did great break out on top but reversed into the drop and headed down backwards, trying to turn half way down the boat stopped on the ledge and  she fell over and out of the boat. A quick rescue and back in. Just around the corner was a bridge in the far distance followed by Barnard Castle weir. As the bridge came nearer we saw that there was a sign to say no access no canoes, the weir as I knew it had been changed and was under construction. The water was surging under the two walls hitting the bottom as a mess of a standing wave and then on to rock below. We decided to call it a day, got out and walked over the bridge to a lay by and finished the day there as light was fading and the clouds were thickening. A great day’s paddling. Paul Scarborough Things to remember next time:

  • Mike: Don’t look at the rock or you’ll end up sat on it
  • Pete: Point kayak away from the trees
  • Liane: when heading backwards down a drop continue and pretend it was intentional
  • Paul: You’ll have to be quicker if you want a photo of Liane falling in.