WHERE IS IT?: Cumbria, flows round Sedbergh into the River Lune.

PUT INS/ TAKE OUTS: Put in off A683 just below Rawthey bridge, take out at Straight bridge on A683, or continue down to the River Lune confluence.

Nick Mortimer (Feb 2004)...'Rather than split journey at Straight Bridge where A683 crosses Rawthey river, there is an excellent beach and large layby at Hawes bridge where A684 crosses Rawthey. I have always found Straight Bridge an inconvenient place to get out. Besides as you continue for 1 Km, you pass bottom of Clough, and can check out level.'

APPROX LENGTH: 8 K to Straight bridge, 14 K for the full trip.

TIME NEEDED: Approx 1.5 hours short trip or 2.5 hours to the Lune.

ACCESS HASSLES: Fisherman don't fish between November 1st and March 31 st. No formal agreement.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: A bit of recent rain is required to bring this river up. Inspection from the A683 towards the get in will indicate if there is enough to float. Low levels can provide a worthwhile technical paddle down to Straight bridge, however at high water this river provides fantastic roller coaster ride all the way to the River Lune with constant grade 3/4 water.

GRADING: Grade 3 and 4.


1. Loup falls, grade 4, after 2.5 k.
2. Rawthey gorge, grade 4, after 6 k.
3. Railway falls, grade 4 after 13 k.

Nick Mortimer (Feb 2004)...'Just been for walk beside Rawthey river to check out reported obstruction. Barely a trickle but lovely day. Man made obstruction, where Cautley Spout beck enters river, has been flattened by recent floods. It is now a pile of debris in middle of river bed. With necessary water for paddling this debris is easily passed on either side. This structure was presumably to keep nearby horses from straying downstream, from this open land. Tree on Loup Falls has been washed further downstream. Wonder where it will appear? The barrier across river may get rebuilt to resist horses, as the nearby farm has diversified into Equestrian, as sign says, and is keeping their horses on the open land surrounding this part of river. But probably not until Summer.'

Mike Millington (11/1/04)...'Further to Ian Pudges update of 26/11/03 paddled this on Saturday 10th Jan' at a paddleable low level. We managed to sneak under the fence at Cautley but any higher flows a portage on the right would be an absolute necessity. The main incident happened at Loup falls where the tree continues to block the main route on river right. River left does not really offer an option as the water goes straight onto a rock face so the best paddleable option is to rattle down somewhere over the middle. This was our decision however the force of the water on the 2nd drop sent my friends boat vertical by the time he'd recovered it he was committed to run the tree blocked route. As his life passed before me, he managed to squeeze between the rock face the first vertical branch more by luck than judgement he made it through out without too much problem (apart from being covered in mud bark from the bank tree losing his paddle!). If in doubt portage (no mean feat in itself) or break out in the pool on river right above the 2nd drop boof it from the eddy aiming for the left bank thus setting yourself up for a middle route. Don't follow the flow hope you can turn in time. This was our plan we nearly had major regrets over it! The tree in the conglomerate gorge is still there even at this low level was a "pain" to negotiate.'

Diane Cook, Deva Canoe Club, Chester (10/1/04)...'Paddled River Rawthey on 27/12/03:

FIRST TREE HAZARD, after Loop falls and before the gorge. Just after long flat bit, get to an S bend, with grassy banks river right and trees lining banks. The main shoot at the end of a series of small drops is now partially obstructed by a hanging tree, it looks ok from the bank but worse from the bottom. Avoidable by taking chicken shoot on left.

SECOND TREE HAZARD in Gorge. Tree fallen lengthways down narrow gorge section, at medium water we got past it with some yoga/ tree hugging, not possible to portage unless you've got climbing gear!'

Ian Pudge (26/11/03)...'There's now a fence right across the river after the flat braided section by Cautley Beck, a large tree blocking the right hand line on Loup Falls, and still a tree in the onglomerate gorge, but you can sneak this .'

Nigel Cooper (November 2002)...'Paddled it on 27/10/02. At medium flow. The bad weather has brought down a tree into the conglomerate gorge just before the Hebblethwaite Ghyll entry. It's quite narrow and steep sided, reasonably quick flow but no rapids. You can break out just before the strainer but getting out the cliff sides would be a real pain. We managed to thrash/ hack our way through the jammed branches on river left without much incidence. It may be worse in higher flows.'

Clive (2 rolls, a swim and a pin) Williams...' paddled it on the 2/11/2002, fairly low level but interesting paddle. HAZARD about 300 yards above Straight Bridge; in the steep sided gorge it is completely blocked by fallen trees.'

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: In the first 2 km there are a constant series of small rapids and drops, which in low water provide an interesting technical trip, in high water will leave you little time to worry about the G4`s to come! Indeed in high water, one of these small drops, 0.5km in, resulted in three experienced paddlers being upside down altogether in the small drop.

At 2.5 km after a tight bend is Loup falls, best inspected river left. At low water this is an interesting three tier technical fall. In spate this becomes a continuous spectacular grade 4+ rapid requiring careful inspection and plenty of bottle.

Easier but interesting water for the next 2.5 km leads to the Rawthey gorge section lasting approx 1km. Again, at low levels this consists of a series of technical drops culminating in a interesting twisty tight slot which is best inspected river right. At spate levels this twisty tight slot fills up forming a nasty looking water feature at its base that is difficult to protect from the bank. If you spot this in time and can get out you may wish to portage this in spate conditions.

Straight bridge shortly comes into view, probably it's best to get out here in low water. At high levels if you still have some energy, the next 6 km provides exciting bigger water paddling as the river changes character with play waves, haystacks, two weirs, and constant interest! Railway falls, grade 4, can be seen after passing under a railway viaduct. This two tier rapid can be inspected river left, choose your own line. In big water the hole in the middle of the second drop has been known to eat Microbats!

The best is now over, the confluence with the River Lune is not far at which point you will arrive exhausted and exhilarated in high water.

OTHER NOTES: There is a harder section above, only possible with plenty of water. Also consider a trip on the River Clough.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Bob Evans, also Nigel Cooper, Ian Pudge, Mike Millington, Nick Mortimer, Diane Cook and Clive Williams.



Community Forum Comments on this Article
Tree -- *Guy*
2008 Oct 22 10:24:05 PM
Hey folks,

There's a right old party tree fairly soon after Rawthey Bridge. It's in a small drop and its two trunks completely block the river as one's in the water and the other just above. Portage on the left.

It's a fair big beast, so I expect it'll be there a while.
Re: Tree -- Rockrat
2008 Oct 26 04:59:20 PM
"*Guy*" wrote:
Hey folks,

There's a right old party tree fairly soon after Rawthey Bridge. It's in a small drop and its two trunks completely block the river as one's in the water and the other just above. Portage on the left.

It's a fair big beast, so I expect it'll be there a while.


It's still there. Definitely unrunnable especially as the hole is grippy in the best of times.
No subject -- Jim Pullen
2008 Nov 23 01:01:29 PM
"Mike Millington, 11/11/06" wrote:
The tree in Loup falls has now gone. The only tree in the river at present is between the first & second gorge ie just above the conglomerate gorge. It spans the entire river but you can sneak under the left side at low levels and over the top on the right in medium levels.I know this after a very very long but excellent day. We were on the lower Clough at just gone 7.30 at a medium level. We then got on a "falling" Rawthey ie a low paddleable level.Upon doing the car shuttle upon finishing we noticed the Rawthey had risen considerably and was now at a very nice medium level.The speed these rivers go up and down is just ridiculous so it was just to good an opportunity to miss so we got on again !! The first trip took around 3 hours this second one took just over an hour and the river had risen by another foot by the time we got off in the dark.Next day it had fallen completely and was unpaddleable. The difference the level makes is unbelievable. Although paddleable when low I personally don't think it does the river justice. A little more water just transforms it and you can see why it has a reputation as a fantastic river. Good indicators of the level are at the get in, opposite where the beck tumbles in is a rocky beach on river left.If this is covered the level will be a good level. Also there is a fall you can see from the road on a bend over a wall. If only the two shoots on river right are showing it is low. Ideally you want water flowing all over this fall.
No subject -- Jim Pullen
2008 Nov 23 01:10:04 PM
"Helen Wigmore, York Canoe Club, 26/11/06" wrote:
Update on trees, having paddled this yesterday (26 Nov 2006) in low water.

1)There is a large tree across the gorge a short distance below Loup Falls - in low water we were able to easily go under this on the left hand side, however an extra foot or so of water could well make this a challenge (and I'm not sure what eddies would exist before it in those conditions). Add an extra 2 foot + and I suspect you would be able to go over it right of centre.

2)Further downstream there are two trees down within a metre or so of each other, again totally crossing the gorge. The lowest of these was about 4 feet above water level when we paddled it, so not an issue. Could well be a different story when the river is high, especially since the walls of the gorge were very enclosed and steep at that point - getting out didn't look to be easy...
Re: RIVER RAWTHEY -- woodsy
2009 Jan 12 05:35:53 PM
The tree (as photographed by rockrat) is still there, bout 150m downstream of Rawthey bridge.
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