(Sinderhope Ford to Allendale Town)

NAME OF RIVER: East Allen.

WHERE IS IT?: Allendale (nr. Hexham) OS Map 87. It flows into the River Allen. The West Allen is one of two main tributaries of the Allen. An excellent alternative when other rivers are too high in the area.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: In spate conditions the river is runnable from Sinderhope Ford (O.S. Ref number NY844522).

Egress, Thornley Gate Bridge just outside of Allendale Town (NY835558). Car parking at the bridge is limited park carfully to avoid potential problems with the locals!!!

Or carry on down to the confluence with the West Allen (NY799591).

APPROX LENGTH: 6 km from the ford down to the bridge in Allendale, 10km to the confluence.

TIME NEEDED: 1.5 to 2 hours.

ACCESS HASSLES: Due to the lack of suitable water conditions, the river is rarely paddled. Sensible parking is the key to good relations with the locals in this area.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: If the ford isn't fully covered, 50cm on the flood marker don't bother; go further down the valley. It would be a painful bump and scrape to the end.

Another good water check is at the bridge egress, If the river is too low it will be obvious by the amount of visible rocks!!!

There's an online EA gauge at Allen Mill Bridge, with 0.9m being a probable minimum - does anyone have any more calibrations for it?

GRADING: Grade 2/ 3.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: 2 km into the route a 3 m fall is definitely worthy of an inspection. There is a possible route through the centre of the fall, the plunge pool is around 1.5 m in the centre and watch for the well placed rocks on the way down. Easily portaged if the water is too big!!!

4 km further down a full river width strainer fence spans the river topped with lashings of barbed wire across the bottom, just to make life interesting. In medium levels a limbo is easily possible on river left but in high water this would get dangerous!!

After 500m on another full river width wire fence spans the river, the fence has been damaged, some routes are possible but mixed with fallen trees again; in high water this would be tricky!!!

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This river proved to be a real surprise, from the get in point the river takes you down on constant grade 2 rapids into the main gorge (Grade 3) which will put your boat handling skills to the test; fast constant water then takes you all the way to the main fall on the river!!

A 3 m drop then straight into the next rapids (Grade 3). Then a very enjoyable paddle to the bridge watching out for the above hazards and the odd fallen tree and lashings of boulders just to test your reactions.

OTHER NOTES: Has anybody paddled the rest of the river down to Cupola Bridge, the confluence with the Allen?

CONTRIBUTED BY: Paul Kirkpatrick Mark Sowden, Gateshead Canoe Club.