UK classics

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joereadickins
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UK classics

Post by joereadickins »

Hey there UKRGB gang. Long time no see.

So I've been working on a new UK book, with a slightly different take on the classic guidebook format. I'm compiling a list of the classics. My criteria for including a river is: is it world class at it's grade?

I'd love your thoughts. Have I missed any? Have I included anything that isn't worthy? I think it'll be another 12 or so months before it goes to print, so I've got the time to check out anything that you're screaming for me to feature.

Here is the current list:
Braan
Clyde
Conwy
Dart
Dee
Etive
Falloch
Findhorn
Glaslyn
Kinglas (Rest and be Thankful)
Leny
Lledr
Mawddach
Nedd Fechan (and Pryddin)
Nevis
Ogwyn
Orchy
Roy
Spean
Spey
Swale
Tay
Tees
Teifi
Thames
Tilt
Tryweryn
Ure (Aysgarth)

Old school UKRGB debate welcome. 3, 2, 1, go!
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Re: UK classics

Post by joereadickins »

p.s. I'll also spend this winter checking out some of the more obscure rivers in Northern Scotland to see if they're worthy of classic status, an area I'm very unfamiliar with.
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Re: UK classics

Post by Dave Manby »

Tryweryn - isn't that an expensive rock filled ditch in North Wales?
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Re: UK classics

Post by Duncan Stewart96 »

I'll have a chat to Thom and see if we can get a hit list for you for the winter up North.

Some suggestions off the top of my head:

1) Easter Ross Carron - the obvious one
- My personal favorite river in the country. In high flow you can start way up on the upper trib the Abhainn a Ghlinne Mhor through the top Carron (neither are in the guidebook) and continue down the upper and middle for 14km of paddling. Has everything from tight creeking, a powerful 'fairy glen' type gorge, continuous 3/4 and then bigger volume 4/4+ pool drop to finish.

Some clips here -

2) Grudie - Short 2km section but can carry good volume with powerful, clean ledge drops. Feels like we nicked it from Quebec. 4/5

3) Garve Blackwater - 3 sections, all very nice. Middle is a short 2km blast that is the classic after work from Inverness. Rogie falls are a nice park n huck grade 5.

4) Lael - Like the Egua, but cleaner. Hard to catch but a festival of clean slides and one of the coolest waterfalls in the country, a twisting 7m plunge into a deep pool.



5) Gruinard - Scotland's version of Aberglaslyn, short and sweet, stunning scenery and holds water very very well with a huge loch system in the fisherfields.

6) Douchary - Remote mission, amazing bedrock, like a Scottish Susna! Some of the best waterfall paddling in the country. Maybe too remote to ever be a classic but a hell of a river nontheless



7) Ling - Scotland's multiday! World class grade 4/5, the paddling is really high quality. But again probably too remote to be a 'classic' but having these remote definitely adds to the Highlands as a paddling venue.



8) Einig and tribs - Some really nice easy access grade 4, if you do Rappach into the Einig gives a really nice long 9km run. Corriemulzie not so good I don't think. Also I've not done it yet but apparently the main river, the Oykel is very good big volume 4/4+ in flood and on the hitlist for this winter.

here along with some more Carron and Douchary stuff

9) Fechlin - 6km of boulder and bedrock grade 4/4+. Medium volume and roadside. Needs decent rain due to Dam but is a wonderful section. Combines well with the Tarff or Farigaig for some 'Gnar'

10) Moriston? I know it's short, but amazing fun, so many lines and so reliable and on big releases the lower gorge is something else!

11) Abhainn Deabhag - Probably my most talked about and least run river. A real test piece in higher flows with stacked, but clean grade 5 rapids in an impressive deep canyon. Did it once only with Callum Anderson a few years ago and it was one of the more full-on days I've had on the water anywhere in the world.

Some pics after the GoPro failure -

Hope this gives a few ideas! The first 5 are probably the main 'classic' contenders I reckon. There's a bunch more worth doing but I can't just say every river in the north... :p

Honorable mentions to the Farigaig, Dundonell, Lair, Cuileig, Brora Blackwater, Inver, Averon and the mighty Affric that are also well worthwhile. Along with more steep waterfall burns than you can shake a stick at!
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Re: UK classics

Post by Terryg »

East Lyn?
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Re: UK classics

Post by joereadickins »

Duncan, this is exactly the kind of info I was after, thanks! Looking forward to having a go at this hit list in the coming months. With your point about the remoteness of the Douchary, I don't see this being an obstacle to featuring it. My guidelines for classic status are just on the merit of the quality of the river, not how hard it is to get to, how regularly it has water or how often people run it.

Terryg, the East Lyn is in there, I just forgot to include it in the list I posted. I also forgot to mention the Plym.

Cheers!
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Re: UK classics

Post by jmmoxon »

Tawe, Tywi, Mellte - all cracking at the right flow (best of Tywi is long Gr2 gorge with one gr3 rapid)

You mean something a bit like: https://www.abebooks.co.uk/book-search/ ... /alan-fox/
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Re: UK classics

Post by Chris Bolton »

Nith? Not a bad river, and particularly useful as a break while driving North.
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Re: UK classics

Post by Poke »

Duncan - have you ever done the "Eidart/Top Feshie" - described in the (old version) of the guidebook as 22km of grade 5, "has the potential to be a real epic"? Sounds up your street!

I can second Duncans recommendation of the Lael. Rapid after rapid of excellence!

I have also described the Douglas (the one that starts here, there are a couple in the area) as "the best river noone has ever heard of". A gnarly double drop, a chain of 4 smaller rapids culminating in a 6metre fall, a fast slide, a 2-3m ledge drop, a few more technical rapids, and a clean 10 meters of freefall somewhere in the middle too! Its the one Dave did his knee on, and the hydro means you need a fair bit of water, but at the right level its amazing.

I think that your categorisation needs to include some consideration of how frequently they are run, or (at the harder grades at least) you'd probably have a smattering of rivers in England, a few more in Wales, and a shed-load of obscure rivers in scotland that are absolute beauties, but noones ever heard of and have only been paddled by a handful of people.


With that said, the Lake district has been left off your list entirely! The Keswick Greta with water is often touted as the classic grade 3 in the country. The Lune is also a great run at its grade. The Duddon has an excellent harder gorge, followed by two beautiful sections of easier water, but with a more "beck" like feel than the Greta and Lune. I think the Esk would get more love if it was more accessible. A series of 7 gnarly rapids in close successtion up at the very top, followed by the classic upper Esk (grade 4), down into grade 2/3 through the lower section in the valley.
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Re: UK classics

Post by jmmoxon »

I agree with Tim, that a book of Northern gems, although lovely, isn't likely to sell many copies - you maybe need to look through some old guidebooks for their highly quality starred suggestions, to get more lower grade additions (one of my favourite Lakes runs is the Sprint). Personally I wouldn't bother with the Thames, Wye, Severn, Shakespeare's Avon or Spey as they already have their own books: https://www.pesdapress.com/index.php/pr ... g/touring/
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Re: UK classics

Post by Duncan Stewart96 »

Poke wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2023 9:07 am
Duncan - have you ever done the "Eidart/Top Feshie" - described in the (old version) of the guidebook as 22km of grade 5, "has the potential to be a real epic"? Sounds up your street
Not yet! It's on the hit list for sure, I suspect there's a fair amount of mank on the eidart but the last fall looks great and the top feshie looks very cool too.

Another couple from other areas of Scotland that might be worth considering would be the North Esk - THE east coast classic with 3 great sections for any ability or water level. Another would be the Minnoch down in Galloway. I've only done it once but there's 3 sections you.can link together from grade 3-4/5 with 15km of great whitewater.

Good luck narrowing it down! I think I'd struggle to pick my favourite 50 runs north of the great glen alone!
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Re: UK classics

Post by James T »

Hi Joe

I would add the Mellte over the Nedd Fechan - but it's not my book.

I think we can all agree the Mawddach should be in their - perhaps the greatest river in North Wales - even if you do portage the massive waterfall...

Have fun determining your final list.
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Re: UK classics

Post by banzer »

joereadickins wrote:
Mon Oct 16, 2023 5:18 pm
Hey there UKRGB gang. Long time no see.
Hi Joe. Another ukrgb'er from back in the day dusts off their keyboard to throw in some hazy memories...

... only kidding, since living in Fort Bill 06 - 09 I have been back regularly to check out and hopefully paddle some of the more remote or unusual rivers, initially for the latest Scottish WW guidebook which I was co-editor for, and more recently with Duncan who shares my love of the obscure but not necessarily of ditches! I've also done or are familiar with most of the English and Welsh 'classics' you've mentioned.

Firstly, great idea! I'll have a copy please! Get Tim Burne to do some photos for you, it's an unwritten rule that he must provide at least 50% of the photos in any one guidebook. Ideally, he should provide the cover shot or BE the cover shot.

Secondly, get yourself up to Scotland NOW whilst Duncan is still 'between jobs'. There's no-one better suited to showing you round some of the gems. For instance I was up there just last weekend and after one lovely paddle of the Brora Blackwater we got chatting to the landowners, who invited us to drive up next time and avoid the 4km walk-in. He and Thom Brown have a pretty good knowledge of what might be going, friendly estate managers, weather patterns etc. I digress...

Thirdly, how to define a 'classic'. It's your book so it's your call. I would say this is a run that gets paddled regularly, comes into condition regularly, and provides good reliable, enjoyable WW, at any grade. I'd also include minimal portages. World Class at its grade? OK so that's quite a big ask but I'll have a go.

Braan - disagree, an ok gorge and some mank
Clyde - not done it but from what I've seen no? Big and challenging, but a classic? Not sure
Conwy
Dart
Dee
Etive
Falloch
Findhorn
Glaslyn
Kinglas (Rest and be Thankful)
Leny - not sure about this, bit of a one hit wonder with a couple of rapids after; good, but perhaps not a classic
Lledr
Mawddach
Nedd Fechan (and Pryddin) - Mellte before these two?
Nevis
Ogwyn
Orchy
Roy
Spean - nah - upper is a bit of a giggle / stunt, lower is ok; but these only really get paddled when there's too much / not enough water
Spey
Swale
Tay - for Stanley I presume. Does it stand up to other 'world class' play spots? Not sure, haven't done it
Tees
Teifi
Thames - do you mean the weirs? If so I guess so, there are lots of options. Not a classic 'river run' though
Tilt
Tryweryn
Ure (Aysgarth)

I would consider adding:

I agree with Tim that the Lune at the right level, like the Tees, is one of the best grade 3 runs anywhere. Loads of surf waves and interest. I think these are both better than the Keswick Greta (sorry Tim)
East Lyn (edit, this is in you say!)
Duddon
Clough - great fun continuous 3/4 at the right level
possibly the Kent as it just runs so often, it's such a standard go-to grade 3/4 option
The Esk, as Tim says not that accessible and quite a walk-in but does that count against it in your criteria?

As for Scotland, I mostly agree with Duncan's list The Douchary and Ling are proper grown up rivers that feel they could be in Norway, but you have to work to get to them. The Gruinard flows loads and is very like Aberglaslyn. Top Carron is A1. I feel you should add the Moriston. Two short but sweet sections, no shuttle required, plus regular reliable releases. Happy to offer further opinion if needed on anything from the Etive upwards! Just a thought, did he mention the Feith Talagain? Not done it yet, annoyingly, but it's meant to be pretty much the best 'steep creek' in Scotland...

Finally, I don't think the inclusion of a handful of northern gems will overbalance the 'established' classics further south. Get yourself up there and get on them!!

Happy 'research'...

Rich.
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Re: UK classics

Post by davebrads »

Spean had to stay. Upper is great on 5/6 pipes, the section below Monessie Gorge has a lovely grade 5 at these levels, and the gorge has some very interesting moves and a great setting.

Can I put the Wnion on this list? Also the Llugwy, the upper is committing and fun at decent levels, and the Swallow Falls to Betws section has plenty of interest.
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Re: UK classics

Post by banzer »

I agree there's a good grade 5 on the middle Spean (not much else apart from a funky put-in). But I've never seen why people are quite so enamoured with the upper. It's another funky put-in, sure, then it's basically a wave train until it runs out of steam, and has a sketchy take-out. It's certainly worth doing, but a classic? Only Joe can decide! In my opinion, when the upper's going, so many other better things are likely to be going eg Feith Talagain, Fechlin, Leven. I guess if kickflips are your thing, then the Spean is a fair choice.

Just noticed Leven (Kinlochleven) is not on your list! That's pretty much top of the hitlist along with the Nevis for any visiting 'hard' boaters... good enough to make the guidebook cover...
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Re: UK classics

Post by Poke »

banzer wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2023 7:11 pm
Firstly, great idea! I'll have a copy please! Get Tim Burne to do some photos for you, it's an unwritten rule that he must provide at least 50% of the photos in any one guidebook. Ideally, he should provide the cover shot or BE the cover shot.
Haha. I've not taken a photo of kayaking of any note in the UK since that set of the Leven which made it onto the Scottish Guidebook cover. One Scotland trip in 2019, but my camera was playing up and we didn't have great water, so not much from that trip. I also made it onto the cover of Joe's last book. Think I've had my time in the limelight! haha. Not to mention - given the rave reviews River of Mirrors has been getting recently (I still need to see it!) I'd wager that Joe is actually pretty handy with a camera himself!
banzer wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2023 7:11 pm
Braan - disagree, an ok gorge and some mank
Clyde - not done it but from what I've seen no? Big and challenging, but a classic? Not sure
Leny - not sure about this, bit of a one hit wonder with a couple of rapids after; good, but perhaps not a classic
Agree on these three. Only paddled the Lower Braan, but was pretty underwhelmed. Clyde may deserve mention as an easy grade /touring river (don't know, not done it), but probably not as a whitewater one - one waterfall that is paddled regularly, and one that is paddled very rarely.

banzer wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2023 7:11 pm
I agree with Tim that the Lune at the right level, like the Tees, is one of the best grade 3 runs anywhere. Loads of surf waves and interest. I think these are both better than the Keswick Greta (sorry Tim)
I happen to agree that both Lune and Tees are better, but many gravitate to the Keswick Greta as one of the all-time mid-grade classics, hence the mention.
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Re: UK classics

Post by loz123 »

think to sprint should be on there
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Re: UK classics

Post by Duncan Stewart96 »

I had some more ramblings, then I'll shut up for a while...

I wonder if it's worth considering a ''quota'' of rivers from certain areas? I think if I had 20 for Scotland (only area I know well), I'd probably go north to south and try and incorporate a variety of stuff ie continuous vs pool drop/creeking vs big volume/ grade 3-5/ roadside vs remote with emphasis on variety; picking something that exemplifies the best about each region... something like:

North - Big area, some real remote stuff, scary deep canyons and some roadside classics
1) Douchary - Gd5 remote, amazing bedrock, long paddle with incredible waterfalls. Can be done as multiday.
2) Easter Ross Carron - Best top to bottom river run in Scotland?
3) Blackwater at Garve - 3 good roadside sections with really wide runnable ranges from 2/3 - 4/5, an incredible park and huck at Rogie and great scenery
4) Ling - Mega remote, but insanely good whitewater all the way down starting from either major trib for 20km + of paddling grade 3-5. Again may need to be a multiday depending on where you start.
5) Moriston - Short, but one of the best reliable training runs in the UK and the lower section with a bit of extra juice is absolutely wild! Classic for good reasons.

North-east/Cairngorms and Moray - long rivers with many sections through beautiful forests
6) Findhorn - Beautiful river
7) Spey - Touring representation, reliable, some nice grade 2 and stunning scenery

Lochaber - Best area for roadside boating for smashing laps in Scotland
8) Roy - 3 classic sections, each one an absolute classic of it's grade
9) Spean - Not a personal favorite, but I think this should probably stay on balance, loads of sections to the Spean to suit a variety of grades and water levels. The Monessie fall is incredible too and a source to sea is a very memorable adventure.
10) Nevis - THE Lochaber test piece.
11) Coe - I don't know anyone that's done this at good flows who hasn't raved about it and I always get off it feeling absolutely buzzing
12) Etive - Obviously

Argyll - Like Lochaber, but more accessible for wee bams from Glasgow
13) Orchy - Best big volume run in Scotland by far
14) Falloch - iconic hard river, 3 good sections
15) Kinglas at Rest and Be Thankful - it just goes and goes and goes. Did this again this week and had forgotten just how bloody good it was.

Perthshire and Angus
16) Tilt - Obviously
17) Tay - brilliant play potential, some of the best waves I've seen anywhere
18) North Esk - 3 absolutely classic sections to cover all grades and water levels

Central and South
19) Clyde - Definitely think this should stay. At 150-200 cumecs it's just so unusual for the UK with some incredible big volume 4-4+ between the falls in a stunning, committing canyon. At high flows there's definitely a lot more to the run than you'd think. To have a clean waterfall that runs with that volume is pretty nuts, and Corra Linn is one of the hardest rapids I know of being run anywhere. Such a cool place to be. Also some easier sections and some decent play features further down I believe.
20) Minnoch - The classic Galloway river, so long (15km+), with great scenery and great variety of rapids from grade 3-5.

Other thoughts:
Leny - decent, reliable, but short and I don't think as good as any of the above rivers
Braan - Maybe a personal thing, but I'm always been a bit underwhelmed with each section. Gorge is super cool but short and the danger factor in high flows always outweighed the fun for me.. Bit of a poor mans Tilt really...
Leven - End of the world is pretty insane but other than that it's not got a huge amount else aside McKays.
Einig - Hard done by if not included, but not as good as the nearby Carron
Lochy (Tyndrum) - Definitely worth thinking about, a real classic test piece waterfall run... Definitely go do this if you haven't before! Just left out as I've already got a few hard roadside runs.
Gruinard - Class, but too short
Cuileig/Affric - Both brilliant adventures with some world class whitewater, but probably too much hard graft on the portages for most folks taste
Coiltie - Less paddled, but at good high flows stands up to the Kinglas at RABT.
Fechlin - Fecking hydro...

Anyway, this has been a great fun way to procrastinate. You can definitely see my bias for the west coast! I've no idea how you'll narrow down the whole of the UK when I can't even do Scotland.

Happy Paddling!
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Re: UK classics

Post by jmmoxon »

Rest of UK doesn't actually have that many options.

Although the river that wasn't included in English guidebook should be a contender!
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Re: UK classics

Post by Mark R »

This book sounds like an awesome idea, and I'd certainly want it on my bookshelf.

I can (unfortunately) tell you that it'll have to be a labour of love, though - it won't sell in any numbers remotely likely to give you a return on the time and resources that go into it. The Pesda England/ Scotland WW guides take about a decade to sell each print run of c3000 copies, I think.

Books about touring rivers out-sell white water guidebooks by several orders of magnitude - this is why I write touring guidebooks, and I still don't really make any real profit, when all is said and done.

Fatuous 'where to paddle as a complete novice' books with minimal content and Instagram-style pics of bikini-clad paddleboarders out-sell my books by several orders of magnitude again...
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Re: UK classics

Post by banzer »

Mark R wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2023 8:26 pm
minimal content and Instagram-style pics of bikini-clad paddleboarders out-sell my books by several orders of magnitude again...
If either of us ever edit a guidebook again Mark, we know what to do...
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Re: UK classics

Post by Poke »

banzer wrote:
Wed Nov 29, 2023 1:12 pm
Mark R wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2023 8:26 pm
minimal content and Instagram-style pics of bikini-clad paddleboarders out-sell my books by several orders of magnitude again...
If either of us ever edit a guidebook again Mark, we know what to do...
I for one would not be rushing to buy a guidebook featuring either of you guys paddleboarding in a bikini ;-)
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Re: UK classics

Post by Neptune »

I don't see any f the following listed anywhere above that you may wish to include.

Dundonnell - Grade 4/5 - needs to be wet but at good flows is a continuous grade 4+ and near to the Gruinard (class, but too short so multiple runs are the order of the day).

Kachnish - Grade 4/5 - this is a great run.

Gloy (Upper) - Grade 3/4(5)- I know that it is only a small river, but it is a continuous run suitable for small group 3 or 4 and lots of fun. (The Lower can be a bit manky).

Kirkaig - Grade 3/4 - a walk in required to put in below Kirkaig Falls but worth it and the scenery is just wonderful and remote.

Banzer, you have possibly already run these before.
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Re: UK classics

Post by joereadickins »

Fantastic feedback folks. Looking forward to exploring a lot of these recommendations.

If I could divert the conversation a bit, I feel like I'll do justice to the class IV and V rivers but I could quite easily overlook some of the class III classics.

What's your favourite class III run in the UK and why?

Thousand thanks!
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Re: UK classics

Post by feelingjustfine »

The Gloy, behave you pervert!

Feith taligan is worth a mention.
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Re: UK classics

Post by davebrads »

Favourite class III - the Lune. It's long enough to feel like a proper journey and there is enough of interest to make it a worthwhile paddle.
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Re: UK classics

Post by boater rich »

Favorite class 3 runs.
Agree with the Lune :)

Upper and Middle Usk when its high are great runs. Both are paddleable at low or very low levels, but when they are high both generate massive numbers of waves and features to play on whilst never getting too hard.

The Vyrnwy is a fantastic run at its grade (2/3). Lots of small rapids and a great intermediate training run. The scenery and feeling of remoteness (it is the middle of nowhere) are great too.
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Re: UK classics

Post by StoneWeasel »

My favoute class 3 is probably the slab section of the Camel but I don't think anyone would put that as a UK classic. Hell, most paddlers that live near it have not even paddled it!

Middle / Upper Tavy has to be in with a shout though. Great section of river often overlooked due to its proximity to the Dart.
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