GUIDE TO THE RIVER DERWENT
NAME OF RIVER: Yorkshire Derwent - Howsham Weir.
WHERE IS IT?:Howsham. Just off the A64 heading East away from the York outer ring road.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Heading towards Howsham Village from A64, open fields lead to stone bridge at SE732625 (wide verges either side of road before bridge). Get on here and paddle upstream to the weir.
APPROX LENGTH: ca.50m wide...
TIME NEEDED: As long as you like, it's a play spot.
ACCESS HASSLES: No problems so long as you respect the area and stick to the footpaths.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: If the water looks to be tonking past the bridge - it will be fun. If the river is bank-full, it will be scary. If the river is out of it's banks, you'll never get to it.
GRADING: It's a playspot with a powerful yet reasonable safe hole - G3?
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Shallow when the river drops off. Has a tendency to eat/snap paddle blades.
Christian Bouet, York Canoe Club, www.yorkcanoeclub.co.uk...'We went paddling last Sunday (27-02-2005) and I decided to take the small drop over the weir. If going in the near future, use river left (the side with the building) to go up and drop in from. A fishing wire stuck on river side almost stole my paddle and I didn't see if it still has a hook on it. It's attached to river right somewhere and hangs all the way down to the chute. In other words, don't run the chute right now unless you want a new piercing. Also, we saw the owners of the building river left. They are restoring it with intention to open to the public and we were told it's OK to use this bank to walk up and to drop in.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: As you approach the weir you will see a river left chute. This is a good eddy-line to warm up on but the wave has nasty steel spikes just below the surface. Traversing the weir is more fun in high water, but never poses many problems. About centre is a pour-over type feature which is plenty deep enough to force a Kendo vertical. Across further to the river right chute (ca.9' wide with a 45 deg slope - closed on both sides by concrete walls). This can be shot at any level from above and is surfable at ANY level (except bone dry). When the river is up, the hole becomes meaty and the only exit is by a forced wathunk into the green. As it drops the wave becomes more V'ed and changes in retentivity (depends on flow volume and rate). At low levels the wave can be surfed but spinning/blunting is a bit more difficult. The eddy-line is ALWAYS available for playing on. Further to the river right side is an undercut ledge on the weir. OK to put noddies in at levels below med-high - caused many-a-swim despite being apparently simple. Further to the river right is a fish-ladder for clambering up to the top for the many endless shoots of the chute.
OTHER NOTES: This was once used as a slalom course and competitions were held here. Since then, some of the walls have collapsed, but with YUCC's policy of rebuilding and of removing the Elders from the eddies, this place could be of greater use once again.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Matt Deaves, York University Canoe Club, also Christian Bouet.