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GUIDE TO THE RIVER RYE

NAME OF RIVER: Rye

WHERE IS IT: Ryedale, in the North Yorkshire Moors

PUT INS / TAKE OUTS: Get on river left at Hawnby, below the bridge just before the village, SE542893. Space for a couple of cars to unload river left, but be sensitive here. Space to leave one after the shuttle; we shuttled by bicycle which took about half an hour.
Get off river right at Helmsley at the road bridge with houses on the left, SE613836. No parking here, but there is a long stay car park about 500m away, signposted from the market square.

APPROX LENGTH: 14km

TIME NEEDED: 3 hours without stopping (except to portage strainers). Don’t get on half an hour after sunset, like we did. Who makes sunset 2:30pm in the Moors???

ACCESS HASSLES: The locals didn’t say anything but didn’t look excited by being visited by “foreigners” – not sure the fact we were kayaking had anything to do with it.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: EA gauge here. At the get on, a gravel bank river left should be covered.
It rises and falls off amazingly quickly after rain; on the day we ran it, it had gone from 0.2 to 1.4 with heavy rain and then fell off equally quickly. It was 0.7 when we got on and 0.55 as we passed the gauging weir. 0.3 as we write this in the evening. Not really worth doing below 0.55, although it will probably run lower. At higher levels, the degree of tree hazard could become dangerous. We were hitting eddies in places with a few metres to spare.

GRADING: 2-3 mainly due to hazards rather than technical rapids or drops.

MAJOR HAZARDS / FALLS: Trees. Lots of them. Expect a river wide strainer around each corner; we portaged two, sneaked over, under or between a few more. However the real hazard for beginners would be the many strainers that the current turns through at the last moment; the lines here, though not too difficult, are not obvious and are must make.
Undercut banks and root balls throughout the river.
Horseshoe weir, around two thirds of the way down. Portage or inspect river left. It sounded nasty but was pitch black by the time we got there – can anyone else update on this?

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A fast flowing, bigger volume version of the Washburn. At 14km long, and far from civilisation throughout its whole length, it’s also got an expedition feel to it. Instead of rocks to dodge, in this river it is trees, every few metres. With a decent continuous gradient throughout the first 10km it never slows down, but there are no set piece rapids either. A few islands and waves add interest but to be honest, it’s mainly tree dodging.

Get on river left below the bridge, being sensitive to the residents across the road. Fast water immediately meets you with small rapids. There is nothing much more challenging than this rapid wise on the river, although the volume doubles or triples as more rivers join the flow.

A few islands appear, all channels run if clear of trees.

After perhaps 10km the river flattens off and slows down, with a definite loss of gradient. It’s a paddle on from here to the get out in Helmsley; get off river right sensitively.

Beware the 1m high horseshoe weir on this stretch; in the quiet of the valley you will hear the thundering water and notice a slight widening and deepening of the river above it. It looked nasty in the dark, inspect or portage river left.


OTHER NOTES: Flat from here to the Derwent. When there’s enough rain for this to run, you might want to hit the Greta, Tees, Eggleston Beck, or Swale. But this is a fun expeditiony paddle that probably isn’t run much at all.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Richard Ollerenshaw and Tom Jarvis.