(Tynehead to Garrigill)

NAME OF RIVER: South Tyne.

WHERE IS IT?: North of England, near Alston.


From Alston head towards Garrigill then follow the Tyne Head road out of Garrigill. Soon the road becomes narrow and the river is visible on your left, a track leads down to a suitable get in near a farm (NY761381).

Take out downstream of Garrigill where the road comes close to the river near a footbridge (NY740418), or take out in Garrigill itself where a roadbridge crosses the river.

'After a little exploratory walking when the levels were too low to get on I would suggest the river may go even higher up than the mentioned put-in. There is a path river right, or the mentioned track continues as a private track for a few more km. Anyone tried this?' - Jim Pullen.


TIME NEEDED: 1.5 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. Having said this, the river isn't really fished above Alston, so you would be unlikely to bump into any anglers this high up the river at any time of year.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs a reasonable amount of water to make it really worthwhile, although it flows through gorge sections which helps to concentrate available water.

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 or the online EA gauge at Alston. Additional calibration for the South Tyne would be useful if anyone has further info?

GRADING: G3 with one section of G4.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: A considerable narrowing, or strid, after approx 2.5 km.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The South Tyne is small and narrow this high up, it flows through a series of gorges for most of this section with few significant hazards. However, it retains interest throughout with a number of ledges and stoppers; an enjoyable trip.

Shortly after the get in there is a footbridge with a sheep fence, portage, this is followed by a few river wide ledges.

The river then enters a gorge section which becomes progressively more interesting. Ashgill Beck enters on the right, stop if you can, and take the short walk up to run the beck and falls.

The Upper South Tyne continues mainly through gorges, before opening out a little. Cross Gill then enters from the left and a roadbridge become visible. Under this bridge there is a considerable constriction which is worth a look at before running.

Shortly after a ford/ bridge on a right hand bend is encountered, beware as this ford/ bridge is built up on pipes through which water and a boat may enter, but paddler couldn't!, depending on water levels this requires a portage.

Continue on through Garrigill to the egress, river right, crossing the footbridge leading back to the road.

Pictures of the upper South Tyne

OTHER NOTES: Also consider the South Tyne below Garrigill and further down the valley. There are also a number of other spate-ditches in the area awaiting guides, e.g. Cross Gill or Back Burn. The Nent is also mentioned in Nick Doll's book and has at least one hard fall which has seen descents.