Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

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Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Poke »

I’ve been using Strava on rivers for about a year, both for leisurely cruises and for straight-line blasts down rivers, and have been surprised by how short the “good whitewater section” on most rivers is.

For many of them, when it comes down to it, it’s sub 10 minutes eg. Etive, Fairy Glen, Ogwen, Upper Dart, etc etc. That's not to say that you can't have a great day out taking a good few hours over some of these runs, just the amount of paddling you actually do is pretty small.

However, it’s got me thinking – we’re such a small island, that by their nature the steep bits of most rivers are short and sharp. What runs in the UK stand out as being are the longest (either distance, or time) at a consistent difficult grade (say 3+ and above, without many flat/easier sections)?
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by DaveWortley »

Kiachnish? Hardly a flat section on the 6km!

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Mark R »

Dart takes 10 mins???
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Poke »

Mark R wrote:Dart takes 10 mins???
Lucky Tor to Suprise Suprise does. Sub 7 minutes in fact. I seem to remember that below there it's mostly flat (or certainly much easier), above there there is some fun grade 3, but the lions share of the whitewater is below Lucky Tor? It has been a whilst since I paddled it, but think that's right. The APWE "Guerrilla race" of a few years ago certainly ran over this section
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Mal Grey »

The Barle takes much longer than 10 minutes

;)

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Mark Dixon »

I imagine you are possibly paddling at the wrong levels if you think the Upper Dart is less than 10 mins?

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Jim »

You could add the Kinglass to that list, quite similar to Kiachnish in a lot respects.

At a slightly easier grade (a mere 3) I feel the lower Roy is often overlooked by boaters who think they are too good for it. It is pool-drop but the pools are fairly short and there are loads of easy grade rapids quite close together - I have always felt it a better end to a Roy gorge trip (surprisingly short!) than climbing up the switchback path but have mostly lost that argument with shuttle drivers.... Upper Roy has a similarly continuous pool-drop grade 3 nature, the gorge spoils what would otherwise be the best grade 3 in the country, and most people with a focus on the gorge seem uninterested in the high quality but easier paddling above and below.

The only river I can think of with a couple of km with no pools at all is the upper Spean, from the put in as far as the railway bridge (then it fortunately has a big pool before Fersit gorge and Inverlair Falls) continuous 3+ with 4 pipes or more, rising to 4 if you try and go near the banks... mind you, if you stay centre it takes less than 10 mins!

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Poke »

Mark Dixon wrote:I imagine you are possibly paddling at the wrong levels if you think the Upper Dart is less than 10 mins?
Two posts up:
Poke wrote:Lucky Tor to Suprise Suprise does. Sub 7 minutes in fact. I seem to remember that below there it's mostly flat (or certainly much easier), above there there is some fun grade 3, but the lions share of the whitewater is below Lucky Tor? It has been a whilst since I paddled it, but think that's right. The APWE "Guerrilla race" of a few years ago certainly ran over this section
Agree that both of those Scottish ones are contenders. I've only paddled each one once (which I guess makes them feel longer as you don't know whats coming up) but suspect that even if you straight lined either from their first significant rapid they'd both take a fairly substantial amount of time.
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Dan Yates. »

High water ( around 1 on the gauge) Mellte not been there for ages but seem to remember that being 30 mins plus and pretty good all the way.

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by jamie conn »

Poke wrote: Lucky Tor to Suprise Suprise does. Sub 7 minutes in fact. I seem to remember that below there it's mostly flat (or certainly much easier), above there there is some fun grade 3, but the lions share of the whitewater is below Lucky Tor? It has been a whilst since I paddled it, but think that's right. The APWE "Guerrilla race" of a few years ago certainly ran over this section
I think at the level when that time was set, the entire river is arguably above grade 4 and has very few flat sections. Admittedly quite a lot of wave trains...
At more sensible levels you could still extend that section upstream quite a bit and it's probably going to take over 15minutes even if your bombing down, still not that long I guess. Maybe you should judge on distance rather that time.

Longest section must be in Scotland, Tilt a contender? Are you only counting rivers that you can blast in one go?

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Patrick Clissold »

Just out of interest. Why have you been using Strava on these rivers? What is your aim Tim? Is it about how fast you can do it like the way climbing is going?

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by joereadickins »

Finally, a fun UKRGB thread!!!

Mawddach and Gain surely take a bit more than 10 mins? Nedd Fechan would be a fun one to try and get a fast time, damn scary drops in there with water, but if you paddled them faff free you would be miles ahead. Can't think of much else, guess Scotland has more than Wales in terms of long stretches of consistent whitewater

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Lancs_lad »

Longest section must be in Scotland, Tilt a contender? Are you only counting rivers that you can blast in one go?
Agree with that or Braan Gorge on a good flow.

Anyway, I think people are confusing the original question. Poke asked what's the longest continuous section, not how long a river takes. If there are flat bits or grade 3 or less in between they don't count. So something like the Gyr but a UK version. So the Plym? Never paddled it but it gets legendary status on here from the cider drinkers ;-)

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by DaveBland »

Duddon is pretty constant when high innit? Been too long to remember clearly though.
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Poke »

Anybody done all three sections of the Falloch – that would be a full day out in anyone’s book. Not sure whether you could run them all at the same level though? Anyone know?
Patrick Clissold wrote:Just out of interest. Why have you been using Strava on these rivers? What is your aim Tim? Is it about how fast you can do it like the way climbing is going?
Not entirely. I have certainly gone for a fast blast down rivers trying to see if I can beat my own time, the Ogwen on Sunday was one of these. That said, I’ve run the Glen half a dozen times using the app and the fastest descent I logged I wasn’t trying to get a good time (I was just trying to avoid capsizing :-) That said, I would certainly be happy to see some more unofficial races going on. I love boater-x.

Probably 90+% of the time it is for the same reasons cyclists use Strava (or other similar apps), just to log the paddle for the sake of it. I chatted with Rob (rainchasers) a while back about theoretical possibility of integration of something like Strava with a river guide. Instead of the guide author taking a punt at how long a river takes, you can give actual data instead (eg. time taken to run the upper dart varies between 30 mins and 3 hours, 50% of people are off within 1hr 30mins). Would require lots more people to be using it to make it anywhere near worthwhile though.
jamie conn wrote:I think at the level when that time was set, the entire river is arguably above grade 4 and has very few flat sections. Admittedly quite a lot of wave trains...
At more sensible levels you could still extend that section upstream quite a bit and it's probably going to take over 15minutes even if your bombing down, still not that long I guess. Maybe you should judge on distance rather that time.
There was at least one other time on there sub 7 minutes with a ride name of “upper 3/4 covered”. Guessing that’s referring to the slab, not steps, so a “sensible” level. Even adding another km on above lucky tor (it’s only ~2km from the put in), that’s still sub 10 minutes!
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by banzer »

For 'consistent hard whitewater'.... then it could be the Plym. Not sure I could name even a Scottish river that compares.
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by callum s »

How long a river takes to paddle and how long a river takes to paddle are two different things…
Poke wrote:Anybody done all three sections of the Falloch – that would be a full day out in anyone’s book. Not sure whether you could run them all at the same level though? Anyone know?
Not really possible in one go - the gorge gets pretty full on/unrunnable in anyone's book…
Lancs_lad wrote:Longest section must be in Scotland, Tilt a contender? Are you only counting rivers that you can blast in one go?

Agree with that or Braan Gorge on a good flow.
Tilt has 6-7km of continuous sustained whitewater at class 3 and above, Braan gorge not so much - only 1-2km of paddling.

I think the upper, gorge and lower Roy could be a contender as could the Findhorn in big levels…

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by callum s »

banzer wrote:For 'consistent hard whitewater'.... then it could be the Plym. Not sure I could name even a Scottish river that compares.
Farigaig?

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Mark R »

callum s wrote:
banzer wrote:For 'consistent hard whitewater'.... then it could be the Plym. Not sure I could name even a Scottish river that compares.
Farigaig?
Weirdly enough, I earlier started a reply to Banzer about a Scottish ditch which (waterfalls apart) bore a similarity to the Plym...but couldn't remember its name until now.

I've only done it in low, must be fearsome when running.
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by banzer »

It depends on your definition of 'consistent'. I take it to mean similar to 'continuous', which the Plym certainly is (from videos) in the same manner as the Skoli. The Farigaig is certainly consistently hard for about 4kms from about the first bridge in the forest, and yes it has harder bits than the Plym, but there are nonetheless flat bits. (Maybe there are none when really high.... but only the insane would go near at those levels.) I don't rate the Findhorn or Roy even when high as consistently hard though there are sections.
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Neptune »

The video of the Plym on the thread below certainly makes it looks like a contender.

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... 3&start=90

Lancs_lad and banzer, its about time you northern boys went down to paddle the Plym to see for yourself if it lives up to its reputation and report back to the rest of us north of Bristol?

I would like to come along and join you on this trip but don't know whether I would be up to it? I might just live up to my nickname of 'Neptune' and spend more time in the water than the boat.

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Lancs_lad »

Neptune wrote:The video of the Plym on the thread below certainly makes it looks like a contender.

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... 3&start=90

Lancs_lad and banzer, its about time you northern boys went down to paddle the Plym to see for yourself if it lives up to its reputation and report back to the rest of us north of Bristol?

I would like to come along and join you on this trip but don't know whether I would be up to it? I might just live up to my nickname of 'Neptune' and spend more time in the water than the boat.
Sounds like a plan! Going to have to wait at least 6 months as I have just had 3 screws put in my Talus (ankle) :-(

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Mark Dixon »

The only problem with living outside the area and wanting to paddle the Plym is it has a small window of opportunity, many people dont bother with it and turn up only to find it too high or too low, knowledge of the levels is good as well, my lad and his mate ran it with 3 others before Xmas waiting for it to drop. Us mere mortals ran the Upper Upper section, sorted out the shuttles before they departed, only 3 out of 5 made it down and levels were very high for Plym. You'll need to be dedicated to get on and complete it, but if you do you'll probably feel like a God. I've walked most of it and its awsome, I doubt I'll ever paddle it but my 1st plan of attack is walking into the Syphon and paddling down in reasonable water to get a feel for it, the Lower Plym is pretty good too when its high with a fair few big stoppers to deal with so can be a good trip with only a km of walking upstraem.

This is probably one of better vids around and gives a pretty good idea of what is involved but trust me it is far steeper than it looks in vid
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Michael Hatton »

If portages are allowed cynfal would be a hard all day effort hard portages and rapids.

Seiont good g3 1hour ish

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Jim »

I understood the question to be how long the good bit takes, and I had kind of assumed that if there are flat sections you either count them as separate good bits or just add up the time for the good bits.

So the Orchy say, which is a great river, but the good bits probably only add up to 5 minutes of paddling.....

As far as a how long a section takes to paddle, the UK standard is 2 hours. All sections take about 2 hours no matter how long or short, easy or hard. They just all do!

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by banzer »

Neptune wrote: Lancs_lad and banzer, its about time you northern boys went down to paddle the Plym to see for yourself if it lives up to its reputation and report back to the rest of us north of Bristol?
Count me in! Though I might need to get some practice in first! Last time I went down south I got a good flow on the East Lyn, that was mega.
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Kate D »

I think the Sprint near Kendal might be a contender. From S bends to the bottom of Sprint mill is about 4.5km. I can't remember any flat bits.

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Ieuan Belshaw »

joereadickins wrote:Finally, a fun UKRGB thread!!!

Mawddach and Gain surely take a bit more than 10 mins? Nedd Fechan would be a fun one to try and get a fast time, damn scary drops in there with water, but if you paddled them faff free you would be miles ahead. Can't think of much else, guess Scotland has more than Wales in terms of long stretches of consistent whitewater
+1

Mawddach is a good hour or more of G3 and above at certain high levels (starting at the upper upper). With the one obvious portage...
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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Einstein »

Colwyn seemed like a fairly long section of consistently challenging whitewater but might have been because I hadn't done it before and it was at quite a chunky level.

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Re: Longest consistent section of hard whitewater in the UK?

Post by Lancs_lad »

Kate D wrote:I think the Sprint near Kendal might be a contender. From S bends to the bottom of Sprint mill is about 4.5km. I can't remember any flat bits.
Quite pool dropy really. The linking bits just about reach class 3 in big water. So not a contender. For a continuous run in the Lakes that is easy to access and runs quite often I would say troutbeck in high water, class 3/4 all the way (odd bit of class 2 but very little).

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