GUIDE TO THE RIVER URE
(Hack Falls to West Tanfield)
NAME OF RIVER: River Ure.
WHERE IS IT?: Nr. Ripon, N. Yorkshire.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Hack Falls (SE236772, hard to find) or Mickley (SE253769, by getting in here you miss some good bits upstream). Get out at Sleningford Mill (SE280784, campsite) nr West Tanfield on the A6108.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Depends on how long you play for.
ACCESS HASSLES: There was a long-standing agreement in place, which has recently been renegotiated after issues with the land owner (see below), the details of this "agreement" are available here.
Recently (June 2010) there have been some issues with the landowners having a strop and "withdrawing" the agreement. The RAA and LRA took the unusual step of requesting that paddlers stay away while access was being renegotiated. Whilst this agreement was not the ideal 365 days, some argued that it was far better than most old-style agreements and felt it is worth trying to get it re-instated. The agreement/arrangement has now been reinstated with the comedy addition of "signing-in" at the mill site.
Paddlers may like to note that there is a public right of way along the bank for most of this stretch and are reminded that trespass on private land is a civil, not criminal matter, is disputed (or at least far from legally-clear) on inland waters and that there's some speculation that some monks once had an ancient right of navigation on the Ure.
Slenningford Watermill Caravan Park 01765 635201
Mike Millington, March 2006...'End of an era Frances who has run the campsite at Slenningford Mill has retired. I'm not sure how long she had been in charge of the campsite but certainly she was there when I started paddling with York Uni some 20 years ago! A trip there on the 11th March coincided with the end of the first week for the new managers Pete Trish Scott.The very good news is that they are very pro canoeists (Pete being a paddler himself). Further good news is that they are currently renovating and improving a lot of the facilities.The shop is being revamped to provide a far greater variety of provisions and they will be actively offering hot food drinks. Judging by the skips number of workmen the shower blocks toilets are also being improved.They were both very friendly welcoming (even inviting my friend's heavily pregnant wife inside for a coffee so that she didn't have to sit in the cold car waiting for us!) so my canoeing at Slenningford looks set to continue for a further 20 years all being well!
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Can be run at all but dry. The weirs become dangerous in high water.
Mike Millington, August 2004...'Seems odd doing a stonking UK river run in mid August! We ran the Hack Falls to Slenningford Water Mill Section last night in the biggest water I've paddled this river in 20 years.The non stop torrential down pour, Environment Agency flood warnings a balmy summer evening made for a very amusing/ hairy run. For those who catch the river at this level (between 2 3 on the campsite gauge by the footbridge) be wary of the following....it was quite difficult getting up to Grewelthorpe beyond due to a number of flooded road sections actually getting on the river proved tricky due to the height the speed i.e. it was running through the trees at a rate of knots! Hack falls was big bouncy but sporting a huge river wide wave (with large stopper on river left) as you entered the rapid. Mickley weir needs great care due to it forming an ugly river wide stopper no way of getting out on the right bank to inspect (running through the trees again). We took the illegal not recommended portage on river left i.e. got out in someone's garden, jumped a fence got back on very quickly - we only got away with this due to there being 2 of us.If your group is very large do not land on this side; either get in initially below the weir or be prepared for a very long walk on river right.From below, the weir still looked evil but there is a possible sneak route hugging the bank on river left but it is through a tree! The broken weir below Mickley was a number of large standing waves then things quietened down before Tanfield Weir. This weir is extremely dangerous regularly claims lives. Be warned. If you are new to the river it is at this level, get out as soon as you can on river right after passing under the Ripon to Masham road bridge walk down. We carried on down a bit further but had no end of problems getting out due to trees (again) no amount of dense summer undergrowth. Funnily enough, the best clearest eddy is right on the weir lip...but you really don't want to. The weir was the ugliest, chuntering, evil mess you can imagine. The river right ramp where you can normally shoot it was very unpleasant, but a wave does appear to offer a "if all else fails survival route" through (about a third of the way from right bank) however the consequences of missing this are unequivocally terminal ( even if you did make it you don't have chance to change direction before being in the trees on the island below). After once again negotiating the difficulty of getting back on (trees) it was just all massive wave trains (with the occasional very large stopper) on river left/ centre all the way down to the campsite egress (with one very very large hole at the bottom). The whole trip (including the 15 min walk in) took 55 minutes as we were getting off people were moving tents caravans as the river continued to rise.'
There are several online EA gauges for the Ure, the most useful for this section is probably the one at Masham. At the moment the only calibration we have is that 1.70m is high! Does anyone have any more info on this?
GRADING: 2 with a little bit of 3.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The second weir is deadly on the left. Remember one of the first 999 programmes where some chap got stuck in a weir and got circulated? And to get out he took off his PFD. Well, this is that weir...
**Important Note**: Unfortunately recent months (Winter 2001/ 2002) have seen incidents on this weir. There has been a fatality and also another similar but thankfully non-fatal accident in which a helicopter was involved. it is strongly recommended that you treat this weir with respect; read the advice below...
Carol Haynes...'As you approach Slenningford Water Mill Rapid there is an infamous and dangerous weir (the scene of many epics and some fatalities over the years). This weir should always be carefully inspected from river right and only run on extreme river right even at low water levels. If there is any doubt don't risk it - portage on the right bank. Immediately below the weir the river splits in two. The main wide current flows down the left of an island but be aware that there is a strong current on the right of the island and if you misjudge it you can easily end up being pushed the wrong way by the current. The right hand channel has some a playspot when approached from below but is a very rocky and narrow channel with a drop approached from above.'
Jay Sigbrandt...'Be extremely careful since this weir regularly claims lives. If you have beginners in the group stop well above the weir and give clear instructions. There is a kayak-shoot on the extreme river-right which leads into a channel between an island and the river bank. Instruct beginners to hug the river-right bank all the way down. Do not be tempted to dodge the channel by running the weir less than extreme right for that is how the people have died. If you don't like the tree-infested channel then portage the weir.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This is a good beginners river. Before you go and paddle this river it is best to go to Sleningford Mill campsite. There they have a changing room and loos. You can also check if it is okay to paddle. However there is a car parking fee, but it is worth it just to be able to use the changing room. This is where you finish. It is best to leave as many cars here as possible.
To get to the access points go back to the main road, turn left. Take the next right towards Mickley. Just beyond the village there is a small layby (right) where you can get in, but then you miss Hack Falls. Carry on to the end of this road, turn right. Shortly you will come to a village. The road bears sharp right here (don't drive straight on down the other road like I normally do). About a mile out of the village you will see a gateway into a forest on your left. Park here, but don't block the gate. A few metres further up the road on the right is a gate and a sign pointing to Hack Falls. Follow this path.
The first rapid is Hack Falls. It is shot in the centre or anywhere you want. Small grade 2 leads down to the first weir. Shoot left. Shortly after this is a small ledge that has a couple of metal spikes sticking up near the small island/ rock in the middle. Shoot a couple of metres each side of it. It is now grade 2 until West Tanfield Bridge. It now goes flat until the next weir. Shoot extreme right. See above. Now it is good grade 2 with easy surf waves going to grade 3 at high water to the take out. At the bottom of Sleningford Mill there is a good but rocky playhole.
OTHER NOTES: Go and look at Aysgarth Force and Redmire Force further upstream.
Clive Walker adds...'Slenningford Mill Campsite can actually make quite a reasonable fixed site for a half hour play. Generally most fun in low(ish) water, it is a good spot for late beginner/ early intermediate water reading development.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Chucky and Clive Walker.