GUIDE TO FLUSHIEMERE BECK
NAME OF RIVER: Flushiemere Beck.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Take the B6277 from Middleton-in-Teesdale towards High Force. At Bowlees there is a sign for a visitor/ picnic area. Turn right to the parking area (NY908283). The access to the put in is on foot from here on a path which follows the river left bank. The path is signed to Gibsons Cave.
The river can be inspected on the walk up. Gibsons Cave is the put in, which is below a spectacular 30 ft fall. The river can be paddled back past the car park taking out at the road bridge on the B6277, or continue down to the Tees.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 Metres!
TIME NEEDED: 30 mins including the walk.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unsure, the picnic area and footpath to Gibsons Cave is owned by the Raby estate who charge to paddle the Upper Tees, don't get caught and it won't become an issue!
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: A definite spate run, rises and falls very quickly.The level of water in the Tees is not necessarily a good indicator. I have been trying to do it for two years and finally caught it when the Tees was still very low but the local weather was very wet. The level is best checked from the picnic area, if it looks paddleable here it then probably is, if in doubt walk up and have a look!
GRADING: 3 to 5.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Three falls, the second of which many will portage, a chain across the river just before the third fall.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The large waterfall dropping 30 ft into Gibsons cave makes a spectacular start to the trip in high water. The "cave" is more of a undercut rock face than a true cave. The fall looks very inviting, however the plunge pool is not much more than a couple of feet deep even in high water levels.
The run down to the first paddleable fall is fairly steep and fast, a few bedrock steps, bends and trees provide entertainment.
The first fall as a fairly straightforward 2.5 metre drop into a deep pool. The second more difficult fall follows shortly afterwards. Check you are able to get out if you don't plan to paddle the second fall, the banks are steep rock.
The second fall is probably 4 metres high with two distinct ledges. The probabilities of missing the second ledge look remote, the ledge sticks out far enough to ensure a heavy impact if you do catch it. However there is a line on the extreme right (splat off the rock at the top), which should take you clear of the ledge; it worked for me. This fall probably gets easier the more water is in it, at least there is more cushion off the second ledge if you hit it.
More fast water and a nice rapid on a left bend lead onto the third fall under a road bridge. Beware, there is a chain strung across the river just above the fall. This fall is a 3 metre drop with a ledge part way down, river right looks more straightforward.
Get out here or continue down to the Tees, another 0.5 km.
OTHER NOTES: I caught this totally unexpectedly on 2 June 2002, didn't even have a camera. Water levels were low and we went to scrape the Upper Tees. It started raining HEAVILY, we went and had a look at Flushiemere Beck and it was at a good level. Has any one else done this little gem?
CONTRIBUTED BY: Bob Evans.
I've heard rumour that some guys from Durham ran Flushiemere Beck itself in very high water from Watson's Bridge on the small B road going over the hill to Weardale. Anyone know any more details?
His thesis on the permission front was that the area was leased by Durham CC from Raby Estate as a Nature Reserve with free public pedestrian access, but that this access did not include other activities like cycling or canoeing. He believed that running the river could cause bank damage to sensitive flora, and that we should at least contact the administrators of the reserve before paddling for permission to cross from the footpath to the water. Our thesis was that we were pedestrians utilising the right of access provided for pedestrians (who are generally allowed to wander freely and not restricted to the path - this includes kids playing in the river in summer), right up until we got in our boats, at water's edge, at which time we became boaters utilising the right of navigation which applies on any navigable water in England and Wales. Since the put-in is directly from the footpath into the water at a point where the bank is rocky, no flora was there to damage. Owing to the chain under the road bridge, we took out just above the footbridge at a point which is a ford for vehicles, so there was no flora to damage there either. Without the chain, we would have paddled on down to the Tees, and out of the Nature Reserve, where access would be directly to a public footpath.
After about half an hour of this, we were passed by another paddling group heading up, and briefly discussed what they had already paddled (Eggleston Burn) and what we were intending to paddle next (Hudeshope Beck). Unable or unwilling to detain both groups, the chap eventually gave up, told us to enjoy our paddle and let us get back on. The conversation had also wandered over access to the Tees, in which we pointed out that no-one paid for that any more owing to the clarification of the law achieved by the Rev. Caffin's research. His only objection there (if I understood him correctly) was that kayakers getting off to inspect Horseshoe and Low Force are causing bank damage river right above Horseshoe Fall. It's true that upwards of fifty people a day can be seen doing this, but I can't see any change in the status of the bank over the several years that I have been paddling. However, he asserted that Raby Estate had received representations from Nature Conservation activists over potential damage, again to sensitive flora.
It's a bit of a surprise, considering the numbers who paddle the Upper Tees, and, by comparison, the very few who get out on this spate beck, that bank damage might even be considered an issue. For anyone willing to paddle the top fall (10m to a shallow landing...), there would be access from a public footpath upstream, although a bit of a longer walk losing the opportunity to inspect on the way up. As the chap seemed to be employed by Raby Estate (I think - I missed the start of the conversation), it would be worth while trying to find Durham CC's opinion on the matter of access here, which one of our number was intending to attempt to do. Come to think of it, I know someone who works for that part of Durham CC, so I could try to make an informal enquiry, too...