GUIDE TO THE RIVER NORTH TYNE
(Chollerford to Hexham)
NAME OF RIVER: North Tyne.
WHERE IS IT?: It's in Northumberland, NE England. It flows from Kielder Water reservoir down to meet the River South Tyne, becoming the Tyne and heading off in the direction of Newcastle.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: I have not paddled the river above Chollerford. The section described begins at this village. You can get to the river below the bridge on river left (NY919705). Take out on the River South Tyne at Hexham Green (NY939647), above or below the weir there...see below.
APPROX LENGTH: 6 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 1-2 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: There is an agreement, it can currently be found on the BCU website here. Whilst being a lot fairer than some of the older-style access agreements, in that there is a summer spate clause, it still deviates from the CE ideal of 365 days access unless there is a sound environmental reason not to paddle.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This is paddleable in fairly low water levels. The reservoir can be releasing when there has been little or no rain. The River Call North East Number is 09066197722. You want the North Tyne at Reaverhill. As an indicator, don't bother below 30cm. You really want 60cm though. The level Andy talks about is around 2.10m...see the article linked below.
In addition daily water levels for the Tyne area can be found on the Fish Tyne website here. Also note the proposed Kielder releases. As a guide the North Tyne needs 1'8" at Reaverhill, a 9 cumec release or more should give paddleable levels try also: https://www.tynereleasekielder.co.uk/
The EA online gauge is at Reaverhill. Calibrations are roughly - Low: 1.20m, Medium: 1.80m, High: 2.50m.
GRADING: Grade 2 and 3.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Weirs.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: After launching below the bridge, you have merely yards of flat water before the river disappears over a largeweir...which you will of course have inspected before getting on. There is a nice playhole below this, but beware high water levels as with any weir. Small rapids lead down past a fort on Hadrian's Wall, river right (bit of culture for you) and after another couple of miles, look out for a large building (mill) on river left. Here you'll find a long Grade 2-3 rapid which may have several routes available if you have plenty of water. Another mile and the wooded banks begin to steepen, informing you that you are approaching Warden Gorge, the best and trickiest part of the river. It is a long series of Grade 3 rapids, actually not really in a gorge (in the 'confined' sense of the word). The first section, known as 'Chicken Chute' is a 1m high rock ledge across the river which appears to have some metal/ concrete built in it...be alert for this. There is then a chance to get out and inspect/ protect/ bottle out on river left beside a large rock at this riverbank (opposite houses on the other bank). The main part of the 'gorge' follows, a series of waves, rocks and holes which will terrify novices and entertain playboaters indefinitely... good job really, as what you see is what you get as far as this river is concerned, enjoy it! In very high water levels, the gorge consists of a long wave-train with a big river-wide surf wave at the very end. Below here is a slog...paddle down to the confluence with the River South Tyne then plod along for a mile until you reach the town of Hexham on river right. Stop above (or below if you're happy with it) a weir which lurks just after a large bridge. Hexham Green is on river right and there is parking here.
OTHER NOTES: I've experienced this river through several 'Tyne Tours', when the river is rather crowded. If you want peace and quiet, look for another weekend. For some idea of what the river is like in mega-high levels, you might want to read this article by Andy Evans... be warned, it makes dubious sense....
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, Frazer Pearce and Andy Evans.