NAME OF RIVER: Killhope Burn

WHERE IS IT?: North of England, Upper Weardale. Small tributary of the Wear

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: We got on where the Killhope burn is crossed by the A689 at NY 808 432 next to a EA gauging station- room for 2 cars and got off at the Killhope Wheel visitors centre at NY 826 431 or continue on down to Cowshill (NY 854 405).

APPROX LENGTH: Less than 2.5 km for the section described here, ~8km if extending to Cowshill.

TIME NEEDED: Not long. Inspect as you drive to get on.

ACCESS HASSLES: None - the farmer at the get on was very friendly - happy to see people enjoying the river and offered a lift back to the car. The staff at the Museum were also very friendly and happy to see people on the water.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The ford at the museum should be flooded and impassable. The gauge at Wearhead was 1.38m when we got on.


MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: A number of falls, sheep fences and a low bridge in the museum.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This is a very narrow and fast flowing stream at this point with lots of blind bends though it is visible from the roads so have a look on the way to the get on. There is a 1m drop just after the get on followed by a further drop 1m drop in about 20m. The run is very continuous with small eddies and numerous small drops.
Where the plantation comes down to the river there is sheep fence that needs portaging. After the fence the stream gets steeper and be aware of tree strainers- there were two in it when we were there.
After the ford at Killhope Museum there is a low bridge in 100m clearly visible from the river which required portaging (river right). This section had some quite large stoppers especially under the next stone bridge where you can egress…. (or carry on down to Cowshill).

OTHER NOTES: Only possible in biblical rain, consider continuing down the Upper Wear (although the waterfall may be dodgy at these levels) or paddling some other Wear Tribs like Rookhope Burn, Middlehope Burn or Bollihope Burn.


Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: Killhope Burn -- Rory W
2012 Jun 29 11:05:23 PM
The section on down to Cowshill has more good paddling but is spoiled by lots of fences. 5? 10? 15? Don't know I lost count but it was all a bit stressful. Especially on my own in a playboat. Couple of places you might want to grab an eddy/tuft of grass and jump out for a look. One portage in particular you don't want to miss when the whole river goes through a couple of pipes under a road for 50m. Probably a step up from the section above in terms of difficulty in places, but dangerous out of proportion with actual technical difficulty of the run. Classic flooded ditch boating. Trees also a problem, especially in summer. If in doubt probably best to assume there is a fence just out of sight round the next bend... Steepens up for last few hundred metres above Cowshill - worth looking at all of this section, jump out once you see the houses.

All in all worth doing once to see what it's like but I probably won't be doing it again. Top section described in guide a good option for when everything else is too high. Not done this before but last section above Cowshill probably worth walking up from normal put in for at normal high levels.
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