GUIDE TO THE RIVER SWALE
(Catterick to Ure Confluence)
NAME OF RIVER: Swale
WHERE IS IT?: North Yorkshire, rising in the Pennines and joining the Ure Ouse and continuing into York (os sheet 99 100)PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Access close to Catterick bridge is only possible (without upsetting anyone) on the minor road to Tancred Grange at SE240997 (Multimap). Limited parking and short carry to the river. Numerous other points for put-in or take out. For the long multi-day, take out at Clifton bridge in York on the Ouse where there is public access and plenty of parking.
APPROX LENGTH: 80 + kilometers approximately for full trip to York, ~50km to Ure confluence.
TIME NEEDED: Three days or more for full length trip.
ACCESS HASSLES: The river is used by fishermen especially at weekends. Having said that I always ask which side I can pass and have never had a problem even when paddling with small groups. If anglers are to be avoid use the close season in spring. (I always collect fishing gear from the river and offer it to fisherman who always appreciate the odd gift).
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This river is passable in most conditions except mid summer when the first few miles might mean a bit of lining open canoes on the shallows bits between Catterick and Morton-on-Swale.
GRADING: The section between Catterick Morton-on-Swale is grade I/II the remainder is grade I or plain flatwater.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: There are no major hazards except 1km below Catterick much reinforced concrete has been pushed into the river (from airfield repairs) and there are a number of steel bars sticking out from this.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The first several miles are through meandering rapids some of which need careful inspection as they often flow into bankside willows. The river is clear and flows over gravel bars and has a wild feel about it. Camping is easy. As you progress downriver the banks start to become higher and the river becomes deeper and slightly discoloured. There are plenty of villages to inspect and get supplies from, some nice older buildings and if you like fishing some of the places will not have seen an angler too often. There are no public camping sites but you can always find somewhere discrete to camp with no problem.
OTHER NOTES: : If you want a few nights out and a long paddle using an open canoe this is the river to use in North Yorkshire. Away from traffic noise and people - although you may be disturbed by RAF pilots in the skies above (but only between 9am - 5pm) A lovely early summer paddle.
CONTRIBUTED BY: David Perry.
Looking to do this as our first family trip with a little wild camping : any advice other than the above welcome.
Park at the overflow carpark for the racetrack at 227 992 (heading south over Catterick Bridge immediately turn right and it's on your right after 100m or so. Access the water from under the metal bridge a coupe of hundred metres upstream of the stone roadbridge.
Do not bother attempting this if the EA gauge reads less than about 0.45m (it was 0.37m when we did it and we reckon it really needs at least 6 inches more!). 0.5m will probably guarantee enough water.
Lots of wildlife, and we only saw 1 person in the whole time on the water, and has a remote feeling to it.