GUIDE TO THE AIRE
NAME OF RIVER: River Aire, Fish Pass Weir
WHERE IS IT?: SE428259. The river Aire and Calder meet just upstream of Castleford town centre, a once vibrant trade town on the Calder Navigation this section of river is now rarely used. 10minutes drive along the A656 just off J32 on the M62.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Housing estate opposite the mill is used as car parking. The get on is down the banking. the get out is river left in the cut away made by the river, however in high water this forms dangerous undercurrents so best get out is near the road bridge, however this is a long walk back.
APPROX LENGTH: 10metres from get on to weir, 5 metres to get off (or 30 in high water).
TIME NEEDED: It's a play spot, as long as you want.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown, it is on part of the navigation, so shouldn't be a problem. I have never encountered any problems, however, I have had threats from the locals in the houses for parking on their street (they say they don't have a problem with me playing).
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: There's a bridge over the river to the parking spot, I recommend walking it and looking at the pass from above, it's like looking at HPP's office from the bridge. In low water a simple wave is formed, however in floods, or high water a stopper forms weir length and looks nasty, never seen the new fish pass in high water. There is a water level board on the right bank near the old fish pass and mills.
There's an online EA Gauge at Castleford - anyone know how this relates to the weir levels?
GRADING: Grade 1 (if you use the fish pass) grade 3+ if you use the weir. (in average water)
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Its a weir. The fish pass is generally safe but in low water may be shallow at the bottom, the pass may form a big stopper in high water. The rest of the weir is a 10ft 30degree slope, not that different to Tanfield weir (just longer). However there is a lot of debris in this river so don't forget to dodge shopping trolleys. The weir can be grippy in low levels that can challenge any paddler. On the weir itself there are metal bars on the lip at 1 metre intervals. On the fish pass these are covered by the concrete walls. At the foot of the fish pass is the pillar for the new bridge, this is easy to avoid in average levels, otherwise can cause problems.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Upon approach to the weir there are orange markers at the fish pass to stop debris blocking it, however this is easy to paddle around either side, giving a good view down the weir. However, in any higher than low levels paddlers can get pulled down the weir by the current, which can be dangerous due to metal bars and the concrete walls.
OTHER NOTES: I can proudly say I was the first person to paddle the new fish pass after construction, I don't know about the rest of the weir. Anyone else paddled it?
CONTRIBUTED BY: Duncan Wells, Independent paddler from Leeds.