GUIDE TO THE RIVER SWALE
(Richmond to Catterick)
NAME OF RIVER: Swale
WHERE IS IT?: In Swaledale! Catterick is just off the A1 shortly before Scotch Corner when headed northbound.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Easy access and egress via public footpaths.
Get on at Richmond Falls (NZ173006) or Mercury Bridge (Nr The Station).
Egress is best done at Catterick Bridge (SE227994), or slightly upstream at A1 road bridge (they are less than 300m apart anyway). Egress River left via the footpath and walk to the Bridge Hotel for a drink!
APPROX LENGTH: About 8km
TIME NEEDED: A couple of hours plus time for playing.
ACCESS HASSLES: None reported.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The Swale has a very fast run off, so recent rain is required. Photos of level indicators can be found here.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: None.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: An easy grade 2 paddle with the occasional grade 3 moment. A nice introduction to WW trip and great open boat cruise in medium water.
Putting on dirictly below the falls at Richmond gives a spritely start with some technical moves at moderate to low water levels. A more gentle start can be got at Mercury Bridge where there is also parking at the Station / Swimming pool.
The first mile of paddling is grade 2ish with some well defined jets of water and eddies. It is very straight forward and should offer no problems for even newcomers to White Water.
However, Easby Abbey is soon arrived at, this rapid can be fantastic at higher water levels, big waves and stoppers to negotiate. At medium to low water levels the rapid can easily be broken in to two sections, a big eddy on river right to regroup in. Plenty of play potential here. Rocks at the bottom of the second section may unseat the unweary! There are often many spectators to witness events, standing on the bridge that overlooks the whole rapid.
From the Easby Rapid down to Catterick the river twists and turns with numerous grade two rapids that often wash onto the trees on the outside of the bends. There are several good playwaves within this section. One of the best ones is where the river is split around an island, take the more interesting left hand shoot, and there it is!
Directly under Catterick Bridge is a smart playwave. Eddys are tight though and slow rollers may find themselves studying the trees on the banks!
CONTRIBUTED BY: Nigel Wilford.