GUIDE TO THE RIVER TEES
(Whorlton Falls to Winston Bridge)
NAME OF RIVER: Tees.
WHERE IS IT?: In Teesdale!
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Start at Whorlton Falls (NZ106145), now the lido is closed, access is easiest river-left on the footpath from the road to just above the falls (or just combine it with the section above). Take out at Winston Bridge (NZ142163), using the footpath on river-right just before the bridge.
APPROX LENGTH: 3 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 1 hour, maybe more if playing.
ACCESS HASSLES: Seems to be pretty much hassle free, especially between the end of October and March (the Old access arrangements are here.)
Jim Pullen (June 09)...'The access agreement here is somewhat redundant now it is not possible to put-on/get-out at the Lido. With regard to dates, paddlers have been using this section year-round when there is enough water without any reports of problems over the last few years. We were even approached by a land owner at the get-out in July, but rather than berating us he was asking about the difficulty of the water as he'd just bought his sons canoes!'
Some signs have recently (Sept 2011) appeared at the get-out from Stockton Angling Ltd claiming no right of access for canoes, etc. Ignore them, this egress is onto a public right-of-way and SA have no legal control of it.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It's almost all paddleable in lowish levels, but it can take huge amounts of water and still be paddleable...indeed, there regularly are huge amounts of water in this river! When the fall at Whorlton is a river wide dodgy hole, then the river is really up.
This needs a little more water than the Abbey rapids section to be floatable. If you ring the Environment Agency NE Rivercall service (09066197722) you should be looking at around 0.15m above the gauge at Barnard Castle as a minimum level, unless there's been a ton of rain since they took the reading at 3am! This equates to about 0.6m on the online EA gauge, 0.7m and above is a more medium flow, with over 0.9m getting high, things start getting sporting above 1.2m...
GRADING: 3 (unless very high).
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Whorlton Falls.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This is probably the last bit on the Tees worth paddling for the white water enthusiast (apart from the Barrage). The main features on this grade III section are natural rock ledges - some of which form fun playspots. However even some of the small ledges form quite sticky little stoppers which will window shade you many times and hence should not be dropped into in a sideways direction. One of my paddling friends knows this quite well. Further down the section the ledges get a bit bigger - I ran it in normal levels with few problems but in higher levels I imagine some of the stoppers could get quite meaty. We got out on river right by Winston bridge - quite tired but very happy. It is probably worth linking this section with the above section for a longer paddle.
After Whorlton falls, there's a long shallow rapid on a left bend followed by a few waves and stoppers. You'll see some houses on the left and then there's a succession of three playable (but shallow) stoppers which can provide some entertainment. After a left-hand bend a couple more less friendly stoppers follow, before the river flattens out a bit. A horizon-line marks a large sloping weir with a retentive stopper best run on the left. A second playable wave forms just below this, with more small waves and stoppers for the next few hundred metres. Turning a corner, Winston Bridge is sighted and two ledge drops need to be tackled followed by a couple more playable waves and the get-out on the right upstream of the bridge.
In high water do not underestimate this section! Huge waves and stoppers form making for an exciting paddle, as some slalom paddlers found to their cost a couple of years ago, resulting in multiple swimmers, lost boats and emergency service call-outs!
The next section down to Piercebridge is mellow grade 1/2.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mike Redding, also Mark R, Chris Parker and Jim Pullen.