(Sowerby Bridge Whitewater Course)

NAME OF RIVER: River Calder (Halifax Canoe Club, HXCC), Whitewater Course.

WHERE IS IT? The Calder is generally runnable from Hebden Bridge through to its end (watch out for weirs - some need careful inspection/portage at high water levels). The white water course is on the River Calder in Sowerby Bridge near Halifax West Yorkshire.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: They are near to the club house (SE058235) through other residents land for which we have access rights as owners. Put in is through brown gates with sign saying "No Public Right Of Way" over the footbridge down to cobbled launch area. Take out is at the bottom of course up the metal steps about 300 meters further down.

APPROX LENGTH: 500 meters.

TIME NEEDED: As long as you wish to play or 10 mins for a straight run.

ACCESS HASSLES: No problems providing you are respectful of other residents of the site. Please do not leave you cars in the mill complex, drop of your kit and park your motors in the public car park behind Kwik Save, accessed via Tuel Lane, next to canal. For paddlers just paddling through there is no charge, however for those who wish to play on our course, and are not members of any of the local West Yorkshire clubs, there is a small charge of 1.50 to paddle. (Put in a sealed envelope and put through letterbox of HXCC). For larger groups special prices can be arranged. All we are after is monies for the upkeep of the course, so thanks for your honesty in advance. It is strongly advised that you contact the River Advisor, John, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 01422 367337, so to minimise the disruption to residents or we may be able to arrange to meet club members for grand tour, even access to changing facilities with showers. One further note we encourage regular paddlers to join the club and contribute to club life, thanks.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The river is paddle able in all but extreme high water. It is subject to run off from the local moors which can raise river levels very quickly. The most important part is when water levels are high you must be able to beach at metal steps at the bottom of the course to get out, or it will be a long walk about a 1km moreover the next weir down can be difficult in high water, with no portage. The best level is when the top weir is just breached.

GRADING: Generally grade II but has grade III falls, in particularly when water levels rise.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The first Drop has a tow back, which can be dangerous for the inexperienced. Debris from floods, considering our urban setting. Once again the ability to beach at the metal steps when levels are high as mentioned above. If it is you first visit scout the course first or meet a club member.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The white water course was re-formed in 2001, and is an excellent introduction to white water, play boating or slalom practice. It is occasionally used for Canoeing events. Please note the put-in is through a resident's land, so be respectful of their property. At the launching area, it is prone to pebble banks forming under the water, in particular under the bridge arch on river right facing up stream. From the launch area you can paddle upstream for about 1 km to warm up and return to course. The Course is made up of artificial drops and pools, designed around the needs of slalom but has many other paddling uses.

1st Drop (Weir)

This is run river right through the break in the weir. It has the potential to be dangerous due to tow back but it is regularly used for many of the play boating tricks. You need to turn left and follow the main flow.

2nd Drop

This is a steep drop, which needs to be run dead centre, it has a nice stopper, which is boofed with ease. Once again, an excellent play wave.

3rd Drop

Another steep drop which needs running in the centre. This once again creates a nice play wave. This drop with medium levels creates a fast surf wave, novices beware of boils eddies.

4th Drop

Run this centre left for best line. With the right water conditions this drop creates a lovely small surf wave. 5th Drop This is a small drop best run right of centre for best line. Usually used for the inexperienced to gain confidence to re-enter drops from eddy lines.

This is then followed by the run out and you need to Beach River left. Then either climb the steps or follow rivers edge back to the start, about 5 min walk.

OTHER NOTES: If it is your first visit go through Sowerby Bridge on the A58 until you cross the river (County) bridge, find a car parking space nearby and return to bridge on foot. From there you will be able to see the put-in and course plus help you with your bearings. Obviously it is a club site and anyone interested in joining please contact the River Advisor on the above number, we do all the regular club things and warm friendly welcome will be given. The water is not clear but is much cleaner that it used to be, in fact so much cleaner. Grayling are now occasionally caught by local fisherman. You are reminded that this river is set in an urban area so statistically there is a chance of Weils Disease, although there has never been a case reported in the clubs history.

It is possible to carry on downstream.

Nearby is Hebden Water.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Halifax Canoe Club (HXCC)



Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: River Calder - Sowerby Bridge Whitewater Course -- lesf
2016 Nov 30 11:59:07 AM
You may be aware that Puzzle Weir upstream of Halifax Canoe Club's site (also know as Hollins Mill Weir) started to collapse a few years ago. Recent floods have furthered the collapse of the face of the weir making it seriously dangerous at the moment.

To be clear, heading upstream from Halifax Canoe Club this is the first weir you come to. If you are paddling downstream towards the club, this is the weir after the ‘double weir’ and it is recognised as you approach it by the weir extending out from the right bank as the river makes a 90 degree bend to the right over the weir.

Approaching from upstream the weir looks doable from above but definitely not when inspected from below.

All of flow (at low to medium levels) is going in to the collapsed section with the remaining face dry and unrunnable. In the collapsed section there are lots of metal spikes of sticking out which would be pretty lethal, and debris piled up at the foot of the weir – see photo’s below. Do not consider paddling down the collapsed section!

Please approach with caution and egress on to the right bank above the weir to inspect and portage.

No doubt the weir will continue to collapse in the coming months making it more dangerous.

Full details, map and pictures:
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Re: River Calder - Sowerby Bridge Whitewater Course -- lesf
2015 Nov 23 05:56:24 PM
A couple of things following last weeks floods.

  • In the first pool on the course with slalom gates on 3 of the wires are down. I have recovered two of these to the left bank where they are coiled up out of the way and well above the current water level - if we have another flood they could go back in the river, but would be along the river left bank pretty well out of the way. There was no sign of the third wire - I suspect it headed off down river with whatever debris removed it, but there's a chance it could still be in the water, so be aware.

  • Rocks may have moved in the third drop - it was still a bit high to tell for certain, but it seemed a bit different.

  • Downstream of the get of there is quite a bit of tree debris to be aware of.

  • Also downstream of the get off one of the old bridges between the works has collapsed into the river. This is about 250-300m below the club get off steps and before you get to the access to the canal basin. There's a lot of metal work in the river along with the tree debris it collected. At a level today's level (and you wouldn't want to head down to the next weir with much more water) it looked like there was a route through, but I didn't get too close. This will be a potential hazard to anyone out of their boat beyond the club steps - I'll be reporting it to the Environment Agency as the next flood could break it up into a right mess or send the whole lot off down the river!
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