Middle Wharfe

Having run the Upper and Middle Wharfe last week, and with levels down a bit this week, a large SOC group put in at Kettlewell to run a bit more of the Middle Wharfe (ending at the same place – Linton). The river passes through lovely scenery, which relieves the tedium of some long flat bits with just the odd rocky drop and several boulder gardens early in the descent.

Rocky step early on the Middle Wharfe. Photo: Andy Waddington.
Rocky step early on in the Middle Wharfe

Under the bridge (where we’d put in last week) we’re soon at Conistone Falls, where the river perks up considerably. Worth inspecting (allowing time for flapjack and photography). Various lines were tried, some down the same left hand boof as last week, others in the middle, but all with no undue drama.

Ann dropping over Conistone Falls. Photo: Andy Waddington.
Ann dropping over Conistone Falls

Faster flowing now, Ghaistrill’s Strid is not far beyond. At lower flows, almost all the water in concentrated in a narrow channel on the left. A group just ahead of us seemed to feel this was an excuse for a bit of swimming, but we all got down this uneventfully, continuing down the several rocky steps in the river downstream without upset, too.

Mary in the channel, Ghaistrill's Strid. Photo: Andy Waddington.
Mary in the channel, Ghaistrill’s Strid

Sarah on the rockstep below Ghaistrill's. Photo: Andy Waddington.
Sarah on the rockstep below Ghaistrill’s

The river eases off for a while now, as it passes under the main bridge in Grassington, before curving round to the horizon line of the big weir above Linton. There’s an easy and pretty safe line on the right, close to the old mill building, and all shot down this without problems – some almost getting air off the stopper.

Iggy on Linton Weir. Photo: Andy Waddington.
Iggy on Linton Weir

A second weir is so low at the left hand side that it creates no problem, and leads to a get-out on the left, from where it is an easy walk over the bridge to the cars. However, under the bridge is a more serious rapid which we’d all run away from in high water last week. This week, four intrepid heroes decided to risk all in front of carnage-hungry spectators, mostly lined up with cameras on the bridge.

Stuart had first crack, and no problem, then John got a slightly tidier line…

John, mid-channel, Linton Falls. Photo: Andy Waddington.
John, mid-channel, Linton Falls

Neil then added a breakout halfway down (working on extra style points).

Neil on the first chute, Linton Falls. Photo: Andy Waddington.
Neil on the first chute, Linton Falls

Pete was left wondering what he could add to make more impact. From the top chute, there’s a rock to knock one off line – clip the wall, turn, capsize, roll and recover in time to get an excellent line over the bottom drop – yes, that impressed the onlookers!

Pete nails the last drop. Photo: Andy Waddington.
Pete nails the last drop

Upper and Middle Wharfe

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

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

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

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.