GUIDE TO THE RIVER SOUTH TYNE
(Haydon Bridge to Hexham)
NAME OF RIVER: South Tyne.
WHERE IS IT?: Northumberland. Hexham is about 20 miles west of Newcastle, along the A69.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in at Haydon Bridge. There is a small right-hand turning just before the bridge as you drive westbound along the A69. This is a small street with a gate at the far end. Park on the bit of wasteland just through the gate (NY845644). Take out at Tyne Green (NY938647), Hexham. There is a boat launch just above the bridge.
APPROX LENGTH: 6 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Varies greatly with water level, anything from 2 to 4 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: There is an agreement for the whole Tyne system, 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: Looking downstream from Haydon bridge, there is a shallow shoal of rocks, which should really be covered for anything like a decent run, but this will go at almost any level - which makes it a good trip for beginners because it can be done in warm weather. Also, level can be judged at Hexham, if the lower boat launch is covered stuff will be generally paddleable, if the higher launch is covered, the river will probably be quite pleasant. Remember that if you're going to judge the level at Hexham, you are looking at the River Tyne, which could mean that there is loads of Water in the North Tyne, and nothing in the South Tyne.
The River Call North East Number is 09066197722. In addition, daily water levels for the Tyne area can be found on the Fish Tyne website here. There is an online EA gauge at Haydon Bridge. Additional calibration for the South Tyne would be useful if anyone has further info?
GRADING: 2, but with large sections of flat water.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS:
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A safe trip for beginners, and for bimbling about in open boats. After Haydon Bridge there is a short grade 1/2 rapid, then around a mile of flat to Haydon Spa Weir. This is a small (18 inch) weir, which is uniform across the entire river. In high flows it forms a small stopper which can be good fun to play in, and it never becomes very grabby - it will wash out long before there's enough water for any kind of serious stopper to form. About a hundred yards after the weir is a left hand bend, where the river narrows into a chute along the left hand bank. There are some overhanging trees along the bank, but they are above the water, so the most they could do is knock over an unwary beginner - they present little or no hazard for swimmers. This grade 2 rapid is possibly the hardest on this section of river. Around a mile further on there is a long railway embankment on the left hand bank, which is just above a shallow grade 2 rapid, which is generally run on the right side but will often be more interesting on the far left in higher water. From here, the river is mainly flat for 1 or 2 miles, until a left hand bend, where right hand bank has suffered some serious erosion. Here the river drops slightly for around 50 yards creating some small waves. A tree from the eroded bank has fallen into the river, forming a strainer on the far right, but this rapid can be run anywhere, so this is no problem if you're half alert. From here the river passes under a stone road bridge at Warden, then under railway bridge, and joins the River North Tyne. You are now on the River Tyne. You shortly pass under the A69, and there is a short grade 1/2 rapid before some old bridge pillars in the river. I suppose someone could pin on these, but I'd find it hard to believe. Now you have a mile or so of flat water down the side of Tyne Green, to the take out at the boat launch just above Hexham bridge (and the weir immediately below the bridge, which is not advisable with beginners).
OTHER NOTES: A long description, but really this is a very easy (touring?) river. Also consider the South Tyne from Alston to Slaggyford.