Having driven up Arkengarthdale (in impressively heavy rain) to the Tan Hill, and then down over Park Bridge and up to the put-in for the Swale, I had to look at the map to work out where I was going to even find the top of Whitsundale Beck – it’s a bit off the beaten track ! Meanwhile, Dave Peel had managed to miss us by going down to have a look at the Swale, so we took a while to regroup and get vaguely organised – it was almost too windy to get boats off the roof. Sarah was not feeling good, and decided not to run, so it was a bit awkward that she isn’t insured to drive my car. In the epic wind, an Ikea bag managed to blow away, and into the Beck – so I chased downstream until well ahead of it, then waded out to intercept it. It wasn’t that deep, but quite fast flowing, so I was swept downstream a bit before getting hold of it and doing the rolling-across-the current bit to get back to the bank with it. Might have been better if I’d had time to get my buoyancy aid on first 🙁
After these minor dramas, we managed to shuttle and set off, perhaps a bit later in the day than we ought, given when we’d set off from Boldron. Most had had a look at the main drop, but as I’d been walking down the road, trying to spot Dave, and taking a few photos for geograph.org.uk, I’d missed this bit of reconnaissance, so the drop came as a slight surprise – I’d been expecting it to be quite a bit further on. Still, I rolled up and got facing the right way for the second part, which went without incident – a combination which left me feeling confident (read: invincible !)
This confidence was reflected in my attitude to Rainby – a drop I’d found to be the scariest thing I’d ever done the first time I was here. This time, Dave Brown and Anthony went for it, by different lines, and both had to roll. I had no doubts in my mind at all, but both Dave Peel and Michael decided to walk round. I hit the line, got a decent boof, but didn’t land in a low brace, so didn’t quite manage to stay upright. A swift roll bolstered the feeling of invincibility here, but at Hoggart’s Leap (AKA ‘the rapid’), all apart from Dave Brown were walking, and this undermined my confidence enough to portage too – much regretted later. Dave took the left side line (which wouldn’t have been my choice) and made it look less than easy, so I joined everyone else at the bottom of the rapid and headed on down to Catrake.
At Catrake, we all got out for a look, and I hung about on the bank to video Dave and Anthony’s run. I was back in my boat and just getting my deck on when Dave Peel pointed out that he and Michael were walking out from this point, and that Dave and Anthony had not been expecting me to join them, so hadn’t waited around. This was a blow, as I was feeling well up for Catrake and Upper Kisdon – but not running on my own ! I ummed and aahhed a bit, then decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and walked up to Keld with the others. Dave and Anthony didn’t run Lower Kisdon, and as this was Dave’s first time, I know he’ll be back to finish the job.
Having run the Upper Swale twice at 1m or thereabouts, and found Wainwath and Rainby fine at 1.2m, I was quite happy at that level, but have decided that it’s probably prudent not to run the river at more than 0.2m above the biggest I’ve run it before, as things do change quite a bit as the level comes up. So having missed Hoggart’s Leap and not run Catrake or the Kisdons at 1.2m, I need to get back here at that sort of level before going to higher levels. With luck, that will mean another opportunity to run Whitsundale Beck, or maybe Stonesdale Gill…
Anyway, here today’s video….