GUIDE TO THE RIVER GRETA
(Gilmonby Bridge to the Tees confluence)
NAME OF RIVER: Greta.
WHERE IS IT?: Barnard Castle OS Map 92.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in at bridge nr. Rutherford (grid NZ 035122, Bing), take out Whorlton Lido on the River Tees (GR NZ107145).
You can put in at Gilmonby Bridge near Bowes (Bing), upstream of Rutherford bridge, but there is only rather boring flat / Class 2 and a dirty weir between the two bridges.
If you walk upstream from Gilmonby Bridge along the footpath on river left for ~400m you can also run Mill Force (III+). In theory, with a lot of water, the Greta should go from a number of points off the A66, right up to God's Bridge on the Pennine Way. I have even heard rumour of someone running it from around the source towards Stainmore in epic water, but it does look quite flat in these upper reaches. Another alternative start for a very long paddle would be Sleightholme Beck.
APPROX LENGTH: About 12 km from Rutherford to Whorlton or 17km from Gilmonby.
TIME NEEDED: 3 hours or more.
ACCESS HASSLES: Historically there have been issues with some of the land owners and the local BCU access people even agreed to stay off the Greta in return for the Tees agreement! The main issues with landowners seem to have been with people inspecting/portaging or rescuing at Rokesby Falls. For this reason try and minimise time here and only consider doing the falls if you can read and run grade 4!
I've also heard rumour that the landowner wasn't too happy about a helicopter using his lawn after an accident a few years ago!
Over the last few years the Greta has been run when there's sufficient water with few, if any, reported access hassles.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS:
Online gauge now at Rutherford Bridge. Calibrations are roughly as follows:
Very High: 1.2m
On these readings I don't think the final grade 4 (Rokesby Falls) section is doable until ~0.65m.
'The Greta isn't actually as flashy as rumoured! It has a fairly big catchment and certainly stays up longer than the likes of Eggleston Burn, always worth checking if there's been heavy rain in the area up to 12 hours beforehand' - Jim Pullen.
It has to be honking everywhere else. This is a real flash river, if it isn't still raining and you can't paddle down the road don't bother.
Guy Genge notes...We got the river in fine form without such epic conditions described above. If the river looks like it'll go at either put in it'll be fine. There had been a couple of day of decent rain on and off, some the night before and the Tees was pretty high (0.35m on the EA phone Gauge - flowing through both arches at Barnard Castle).
GRADING: At reasonable water levels pretty continuous 3, Rokesby falls is grade 4/4+ and in high water sections above this also reach 4.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Just before the confluence with the Tees is the hardest rapid, 100 yards of grade 4 it is difficult to inspect and hard to portage (as it is amongst houses). Don't paddle if you aren't prepared to follow someone down this one blind (and you have a 'probe'). Line is centre heading right (or at least it was).
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Greta is the river you see entering over a boulder garden from the right near the end of the Barnard Castle to Whorlton Lido stretch of the River Tees. Some people walk up and do the final bit for a laugh. The rest of the river is a really good spate run that is pretty much 10 km of continuous grade 3 ended by a single grade 4 stretch (only a few hundred yards up from the confluence, but access here is dodgy as it is surrounded by houses). Finish down a few km of the River Tees, which brings you to Whorlton Lido. There are several interesting rapids higher up and things gradually get harder, with trees remaining a persistent hazard (as this is spate so there is lots of junk floating in the river and it is bank-full). Lots of fun playing with several good holes and stoppers.
Charlie Fryer...(3/2/02) 'Paddled from Bowes To Greta Bridge. Water was High apparently!!! Starts off nice and mellow with small eddies and big waves in places. It's a progressive river, grade 2 because it's easy. Then to grade 3 and before Greta Bridge grade 4 due to size of waves (4 foot+). It was an excellent couple of hours playing and getting tangled in trees! A river not to be missed and close to major roads which is nice.'
Guy Genge...(12/03/08) 'A dirty weir plus tree at NZ 033 122. If you put in at Rutherford bridge you'll get in below this.'
OTHER NOTES: Sections above Mill Force should also go, anyone done these upper sections? Also, Sleightholme Beck can be run as an alternative start.
Ran this at 1.2m on the EA gauge in Feb 2011. Very continuous with few eddies. The section from 300m above the A66 was continuous grade 4. Rokesby Falls were a series of walled-in two-storey high waves and completely un-inspectable! Great fun - but the ensuing swimmer rescue took us most of the way to Whorlton in a matter of minutes - the Tees was running at 1.9m on the Barny gauge! - Jim Pullen.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Frazer Pearce, also Paul Mayfield, Charlie Fryer, Ralph Wilson, Jim Hastings, Phil Carr, Dan Haworth, Chris Parker, Guy Genge and Jim Pullen.