GUIDE TO THE RIVER WHARFE
(Kettlewell to Grassington)
NAME OF RIVER: Wharfe.
WHERE IS IT?: Yorkshire, Grassington near Skipton.
APPROX LENGTH: 6 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Approx 2 hrs.
ACCESS HASSLES: No access agreements but the river is paddled regularly.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The bed at Conistone bridge should be well covered.
There is now an EA Gauge at Grassington. Rough calibrations are:
There are some pictures by Christian Bouet of York Canoe Club showing Linton Falls in very low levels, here.
Jonathan Turpin, Leeds Canoe Club (Decemebr 2002)...'Be wary of Ghaistrills strid on this section, in low and high water there are two routes, but in low water, river right appears to be the most obvious. In low water, if you choose to go right and not down the more bumpy scrapy chicken shoot on the left, after the initial entrance to the rapid, there is a rather large boulder on your left where there is a potential pinning situation. Be careful, as if you are unlucky enough to go over here, the water is very shallow making rolling difficult, and the rocks are sharp!! They tend to do things to you such as they did me, like pull your eyebrow off making you bleed profusely and leaving you with a big scar!'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Shortly after Conistone bridge are Conistone falls, a river wide 2 metre drop. Inspect on left bank, most choose to shoot in the centre with out problems, some have been backlooped here (you know who you are!). A period of flat water, not uncommon on this river, lead to some minor excitement, Ghaistrills strid. Choose your own route there are a few options.
More flat water follows giving you time to look forward to the interesting part to follow! A 2.5 metre weir shootable on river right with a surf wave bellow will wake you up. This is followed immediately by another small weir stretching down and across the river. Straight after this are Linton falls, a footbridge over the river marks the middle of these interesting falls. Get out river left and inspect from the bridge. A number of routes are possible, however in medium water the most obvious route is to follow the flow down the right hand S bend channel. In this channel are a number of conveniently placed rocks and stoppers to test your skill, or to punish any mistake. A break out on the left half way down is possible, although as I found to my cost, a unsuccessful attempt may leave you doing the rest of the run and the final big stopper backwards! At medium levels the brave may play in the bottom stopper. The get out is river right at or below the falls.
OTHER NOTES: Next section is Grassington to Barden Bridge.
Chris Wallis (March 2004)...'Ghaistrills Strid: There seems to be some confusion over which rapid this actually is. Having run the river this weekend for the first time and compared it to the current pictures on this guide I thought the following may be useful. The dictionary definition of 'Strid' is " A narrow passage between precipitous rocks or banks, which looks as if it might be crossed at a stride". Based on this the Ghastrills Strid would be the windy rapid directly above that described previously in this guide. I guess at high water the rapids may be one continuous set but when we did it there is a distinct flat section in between. I would however suggest this section deserves respect at all water levels, despite the fairly low risks the consequences could be dire. We did it really low and although mostly very straight forward it is about the perfect width to pin an Acrobat sideways (in several places). The other potential dangers were highly visible at this level. The bedrock walls have been well sculpted and worn away by the flow resulting in several boat/body size undercuts in several places along it length. The ones we could see would be underwater in higher levels but there were most likely more below even when this low. On the RHS of the last bend was what looked to be a resurgence of a siphon, still well underwater at this level. I couldn't see the inlet or tell how big the hole was but worth considering if you think you may get swimmers on the way down. There is also a bench on the bank adjacent to this rapid with a remembrance plaque. It states that in 1991, a 21 year old paddler jumped in after his boat, he did not make it out alive. This plaque also names the rapid as 'Ghastrills Strid'. The rapid directly below, presumably un-named, is the one described in this guide previously, which offers several options of route.'
John Fitzgerald (Aug 08) Further to Chris Wallis's comments on "strid": this is derived from an old Danish/Norse adjective (stri) which dates back to the Viking occupation of North Eastern England and simply means "rapid" - the English word "stride" derives from the same root in the sense of 'walking quickly'. So Ghaistrills Strid is the rapids, not the narrow bit.
Contributed by: Andy Craven on 3/10/2000...'A large concrete retaining wall at Linton Falls has collapsed, completely changing the rapid at the bottom. Photo's will follow. There's no hole now as on the photos sent by me before, the fall remains at the same grade.'
Matt Deaves notes...'It may be handy to mention Linton Falls on the Upper Wharfe is absolute carnage in high water, as we found to our expense this weekend (Dec '99).'
Matt further adds (Jan '01)...'The newly redesigned Linton Falls appears less of a brute in medium water, but when the level comes up as it did this last Sunday - BEWARE. 3' in 45 minutes changed the entire river and sent Linton Falls from grade 4 to a definite 5+. The middle drop where one of our lot was pinned and damaged last year was only revealing the house sized stopper below it. The line had changed at these levels from just following the water to "Boats on shoulders lads", especially in the new Disco.'
Andy Gray of Dales Canoe Club has news..(June '00)...'Just an update on Linton Falls on the River Wharfe. The bottom stopper has now completely gone as part of the wall directing the water into that area of the fall has given way with the floods since last weekend. Now it just washes out. Just a point we did it today and it is slightly nasty in low water with the possibility of pinning. Well worth checking out and having support on hand.'
Helen - York Canoe Club writes (Oct 2000)...'following the change to Linton Falls the bottom drop seems to often cause the paddler to be backlooped - however there also seems to be a nasty rock hidden in the pile of water which resulted in one of our paddlers sporting a very bruised and swollen cheek plus black eye, while 2 others came into contact with it via a hand and shoulder respectively (although no injury was caused). I've not seen Linton Falls in low water water yet this year, so I'm not sure what or where the rock is that is causing the problem - however I'd say that the fall is worth treating with more caution than before.'
Craig Parrott adds...'On a trip we recently (October '01) in lowish water we found there were a lot of rocks on the conventional s bend route after the fall above the bridge. Two members took far river right paddling along a very thin ledge then dropping into the pool below, the running the stopper river right - everyone seemed to bounce through but I felt quite a tug when I came through in a Storm. On river right below the stopper there seemed to be rocks that would get in the way unless you got the line more or less perfect and the general opinion was that a pin was hard to avoid and would be costly.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Bob Evans, Matt Deaves, Andy Gray, Helen Wigmore, Andy Craven, Jonathon Turpin, Christian Bouet, Chris Wallis and Craig Parrott.
Did the Wharfe today Sunday the 21st Dec at a good medium level and there is a tree river right halfway down Ghastrills Strid(the next rapid after coniston falls) This is blocking the right hand route down the rapid and could cause problems if run blind, However the left is fine down the shallow ramp (the chicken shoot).
The tree may shift in high/spate water but until then keep your eyes peeled
It may require some dedicated chainsaw action. I am going to wait for very low water and wade out to have a look at it and assess the possibility of moving it.
Just curious as we often run club trips on that section of river.
The tree is just directly infront of the cliff face and is laid right across the right hand line which some people take to test there manouvering skills as it is classed as the harder line. the left line (the easier line) is fine down the shallow ramp.
If you go into the start on the left and take a swim the tree shouldnt effect you and even if you are being sweep left then you could be bagged from the good eddys on river left.
If you go into the rapid on river right and take a swim then its going to be serious as you will most certinly go into the tree and rescue will be difficult as you are to far over from the good eddys on river left.
If in doubt INSPECT or go left all the way.
Hope that helps you out cheers Andy
We portaged river left, there is a convenient bridge back over for those who don't want to run Linton falls.
Hadn't been there for a while and the whirring and turbines came as quite a shock!