GUIDE TO THE RIVER TEES
NAME OF RIVER: Tees.
WHERE IS IT?: In Teesdale! The North East of England, flowing out of Cow Green reservoir.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Follow the B6277 North West past High Force, after about 5 miles turn left at Langdon Beck onto a minor road signposted Cow Green reservoir. Park at the reservoir car park (NY814307) and follow the footpath towards the dam head, about 2 miles. Cauldron Snout falls are a few hundred yards below the dam (NY814287).
APPROX LENGTH: A few Hundred metres.
TIME NEEDED: A few hours including the walk in and out.
ACCESS HASSLES: There is a public footpath to the falls, there should be no problems.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This series of falls is very water dependent, and it is very difficult to predict flows. Given there is a two mile walk to view the level and given the severity of the falls probably explains why there have been very few descents.
The flow out of Cow Green reservoir over Cauldron Snout is the main feed for the River Tees. Northumbrian water are required to maintain minimum compensatory flows out of the reservoir and down the Tees. Unfortunately these minimum flows from the reservoir represent a flow down Cauldron Snout that is higher than one would like.
The picture of Nick Doll shooting these falls in the North East guide book show an extremely low level that is very rare to ever find. Normal minimum flows, one pipe from the Cow Green dam, provides the lowest level you could hope to find. Two pipes is often the norm which increases the severity of the falls.
If you should ever find yourself at the snout with boats and no pipes running with just a trickle of water coming over the top of the dam your luck is in, you are in for an "easy" run. I found this level once, but had no boat and no crew!
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: All of it.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Cauldron Snout is a very impressive series of falls. Falling over 100 ft in a series of 5 falls that follow in very quick succession at very low flows and which merge into one mass of white water at higher flows. Falls two and five are the most critical, but three and four are not that inviting either. Fall two is harder than it looks, fall five looks impossible to run without injury, and probably is.
Paddling over the first fall at anything other than very rare low flows and you must be prepared to tackle them all.
OTHER NOTES: I attempted to run the falls recently with one pipe running, unfortunately (or thankfully?), I only made it to the bottom of the second!
Joe Alexander ran the falls in low water full without breaking anything (Sept 2010), however it still remains a very challenging run and risk of injury would out-weigh reward for most sane paddlers!
Sam Ellis has also now successfully run the falls on a two pipe flow (Nov 2011). Later that month it was also run at slightly lower levels by Rory Woods, John Tomlinson and Jamie Conn, who have subsequently been back (with others?) and run it again.
Bob returned in Apr 2013 and made it to the bottom in low levels, he was followed by Stu Ridley and Michael Hutchinson - the list of Snouters grows!
CONTRIBUTED BY: Bob Evans.
A fun taster video is: