GUIDE TO THE RIVER ASHOP
(Top of Snake Pass to River Alport confluence)
NAME OF RIVER: Ashop.
WHERE IS IT?: A Peak District Ditch along side of the A57 Snake Pass road. OS map 1, The Peak District Dark Peak Area. Map.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: For the upper section, you can access the river by parking in a layby near to the top of Snake Pass (GR 103 928) where a small tributary of the Ashop flows swiftly through a steep tunnel under the road which can be paddled if you are not shy!!! Take a good luck though!
For the lower and more enjoyable section, park in a layby just down stream of the Snake Inn (GR 113 906) and wander 50 meters or so through the woods to the put-in.
For the take out, park in a small layby (Alport Bridge) where the River Alport joins the Ashop. (GR 141 895) Take a short walk down the track and over the foot bridge to view the egress point which is just above the barrage which is used to hold back water and redirect some of the water up to the Derwent Reservoirs.
APPROX LENGTH: Upper 2km. Lower 3km.
TIME NEEDED: 1 hr for just the lower and 1 hr or more for the upper due to the likely portages on the upper section.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown, but we have paddled this river a few times and no one has ever seemed bothered about our presence so let's try and keep it that way by treating the area with our usual responsible actions and attitudes.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs to be very very wet for the upper to be worth bothering about, but the lower section is often runnable in wet conditions due to the large number of tributaries that join around the Snake Inn. The only way to know really is to take a look!!
When inspecting the level, be sure to inspect the level above the barrage because the river below the barrage can often be completely empty even when the river is up due to the redirection of most of the water at the barrage.
Huw Perkins (November 2005)...'Having lived in the peak district for 15 years never got round to paddling the Ashop until today. I've driven past it hundreds of times but never ever seen it as flooded as it was today- way higher than the photos in the guide. At this level ie peak spate the grade of 2-3 is misleading, it's a brilliant continuous and quite serious 3 from start to finish with one or two trickier bits with some big stoppers and awkward trees to negotiate. There were also three fences, one of which you had to be pretty sharp with due to the lack of eddies. Thoroughly recommended, as good as any spate I've paddled at that grade!'
GRADING: 2+ to 3 quite continuous at its grade with a high pinning potential for the unwary. The upper may be 3+ in high water.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: At the time of paddling, 13.2.05, the upper section was plagued with fallen trees some which could be sneaked an one definite portage due to four or five trees completely blocking the river within 10m of each other. This upper section is through a dense pine forest.
The lower section was far cleaner with only 1 minor tree blockage but you must watch out for cattle fences which change location everytime we paddle here. We only encountered one this time and it was easily portaged.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: If a pinball mission is your kind of thing, then the upper section has got your name on it. If you have braved the tunnel of doom under the A57 you are well on your way to bouncing down the tiny stream through the almost eddyless sections of rock banging rapids. This upper section is nothing more than a stream, though and it's tree problem and blind bends don't inspire the paddler so most people opt for the much better lower section. There are many grade 2+ rapids with possible pinning potential for the inexperienced but are all mostly straightforward. There is one long rapid (100m) that can be grade 3 in the right water level; easily recognised by a small cliff face on river right as the river steepens slightly (Spiney's gorge). Paddle on down looking out for cattle fences until the barrage is reached, egress river right and cross the foot bridge back to the layby.
OTHER NOTES: The section below the barrage has been known to have water in it and could be paddled down to Ladybower Reservoir. I dont know of any one who has done this yet but it looks pretty flat to me!! Let me know if anybody knows more!!?
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Yates, Woodseats Scout Group. thefrankyboyATyahoo.co.uk, also Huw Perkins.