GUIDE TO THE RIVER CALDER
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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) www.HalifaxCanoe.org.uk
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: