(Holme Pierrepont Artificial Whitewater Course)


WHERE IS IT?: At Colwick Sluices near Trentbridge in Nottingham. It's part of the National Watersports Centre which is signposted from all directions.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Pretty park at the Centre buildings (which are also BCU Headquarters) and carry your boat back up when you are done.

APPROX LENGTH: 800 metres, dropping 7 metres.

TIME NEEDED: As much as you like.

ACCESS HASSLES: Paddling costs around 5, and you have to pay a deposit to wear an annoying 'bib'. The Course is regularly completely closed to general paddlers, for sporting competitions, for junior slalom squad 'C' training, etc. Call ahead.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: All full flow release amounts to roughly 30 cumecs (1000 cfs). The course can be 'turned down to 3/4 flow, 2/3 flow etc (making surprisingly little difference to the river features), but is always paddleable. When the Trent is flooded, the course begins to 'wash out' from the bottom upwards. It is rarely completely flooded out.

This should help you find out what the water is doing...

GRADING: It's grade 3. The new playhole (see below) added in 2002 is perhaps a grade 3+ drop.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The Course provides an unusually safe learning environment. The banks are steep and slippy for swimmers trying to get out, however.

BUT the water quality is undoubtedly often extremely poor. The problem of 'Trent Tummy' is well known through National protests (and individual experiences) so read the advice posted at the Centre.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A superb safe but powerful whitewater training facility. It consists of a series of large pools interspersed by waves and two islands. Boily currents and surging waves are a characteristic of the Course, actually bearing resemblance to the conditions encountered on flooded natural rivers. From the put-in next to the Centre buildings...

  • The entrance to the course is under a bridge. The opening drop usually produces an enjoyable uniform surf wave/ stopper.
  • The first pool is below, with eddies either side (like all the pools). river left produces a small surging wave, which can be used for playing.
  • The second pool has two surf waves upstream of it. The second forms a small play stopper. Just downstream in the eddy is a rather ugly concrete lego brick!
  • Below this pool is a series of standing waves, great for surfing, wavewheels, etc. They lead to...
  • The third pool ('triangle rock'). This has a surf wave backed up by the strange pyramid shaped rock. Splats and splatwhels are easy on the rock. The eddy below the rock (river right) is boily and challenging.
  • The paddler then passes under a footbridge, enjoying two waves/ stoppers en route before entering the fourth pool ('Looping Pool').

Note: the Looping Pool has been remodified in Summer 2002 to form a much more powerful ledge drop and stopper. This is a great playspot, but is now perhaps the trickiest part of the whole course technically.

Video of Si Wiles in the new playhole (1.4 megs)

  • Below the Looping Pool, the river passes two stoppers (the first is a good playspot) on river left before reaching the first island. The channel going river left of the island forms a convenient eddy, whilst the main flow going straight ahead drops into a play stopper known as the 'Muncher' (it doesn't munch) which is a great spot for learning stopper skills.

Video of Si Wiles in the Muncher (1 meg)

Another pool, the 'Magic Roundabout' eddy. The paddler can paddle upstream to the Muncher stopper again by going around the back of the island. There is another island directly below this pool. Again the main current flows to the right.

When the currents reconverge below the second island, mst of the river drops into the 'Bottom Stopper', a fairly powerful shallow stopper. This is fine for playing in if the paddler is confident.

Below the Bottom Stopper is the last pool, with a small wave and a large eddy on river right. Get out here, there is no reason to carry on.

Below the last pool, the river flows in a canal back into the River Trent proper. The current is broken up by concrete 'Daleks'.

OTHER NOTES: A great training facility, marred by the two problems of polluted water and surprisingly limited availability at weekends.

There are several good paddling shops near to hand.

See also, Andy Weeks' article.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.