GUIDE TO OUGHTERSHAW BECK
NAME OF RIVER: Oughtershaw Beck.
WHERE IS IT? Same place as the upper Wharfe - Langstrothdale, North Yorkshire. Follow B6170 above Grassington and turn left after Buckden, then keep driving until you get to Oughtershaw.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: We put in next to a footpath at the top of Oughtershaw Village immediately below a sheep fence and right above a grade 3+ fall (complete with metal spikes). You could take out at the confluence at Beckermonds where the Upper Wharfe starts, but you'd be as well to keep paddling and do the upper Wharfe section too!
APPROX LENGTH: 2 km.
TIME NEEDED: 45 mins.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown. We had no problems, but were a very small (3 people) group who were moving relatively quickly. We saw at least 2 'No Canoeing' signs whilst paddling, so we assume access is not good! Oughtershaw also had plenty of 'No Parking' signs (it's a very small village).
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This is one of the two becks which form the Wharfe, and therefore will run at the same times - best in spate I assume. When we ran it (1/1/2003), the Upper Wharfe was also running, and was at 0.8 on the gauge (located about 1 mile downstream next to the farm on river right).
GRADING: 4/ 4+ (It's a gorge-type paddle, so I would imagine it gets harder as the water levels rise...).
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees are a hazard throughout. First drop (at the get in) has metal poles/spikes sticking out if it. 3 sheep fences (wire mesh/ barbed wire into and under the water), all of which need portaging. One large fallen tree in the middle (we paddled around this easily, but may be harder in higher water).
There was a significant drop (!) hidden midway the woods - inspection recommended! The beck narrows in a thin channel and ends in a 1m+ drop into a pool - this can not be seen from above, nor can you see the paddler once they've disappeared down it (and they can go quite deep...). Possible to inspect from the right hand bank.
A later rapid (just before the confluence) had an overhanging tree at it's end.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: An exciting addition to the Upper Wharfe section, although only suitable for very small experienced groups. Steep gradient, with lots of 'S' shaped rapids which you can't see the end of. One of these resulted in 2 of us running the hardest drop blind...
Watch out for those sheep fences - we saw them all in advance and had no problems, but eddies are few and far between so you need to keep on your toes. In higher water these may become more of a problem.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Helen, Ian and Paul Of York Canoe Club (www.YorkCanoeClub.com).