GUIDE TO THE RIVER WASHBURN
NAME OF RIVER: Washburn.
WHERE IS IT?: In West Yorkshire. Look for Thruscross reservoir on a map, it's hidden on a turnoff from the A59 near Harrogate.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Turn off the main road and drive up towards the dam. The turning for the put in is on the right hand side through some trees and looks like a private drive. This will take you down to the river (SE155573).
Put in below the Dam, where the new concrete access point is obvious (although apparently people have launched ABOVE it on occasion). If you're not doing the full run, take out anywhere you like on river left and walk back up along the footpath. there's another concrete egress point about 100m below the big weir drop. Otherwise take out at a concrete bridge just before the river empties into the lower (Fewston) reservoir (SE168553).
APPROX LENGTH: 2 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Lots of play time!
ACCESS HASSLES: The Washburn is only running on prearranged open days (and evenings) when you have to pay to use it. Costs £8 with BCU membership, £10 without for weekend cruises, less for weekday (typically £5 or £7).
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Only paddleable after a dam release.
GRADING: Grade 2 but very continuous and swimmers can get swept some way. One weir like fall is quite powerful and may merit a grade 3 rating. Some have suggested that catching any eddies merits a grade 3!
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: One weir like fall...see below.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the put-in, bouncy fast Grade 2 water leads you through plenty of small surf waves. The first notable feature is a riverwide stopper which is nice to play in. More Grade 2 water of the same mettle brings you to the only horizon line of the river...a small weir drop (Grade 3) which has a grabby stopper on river right and a clear chute on river left. This is a good play spot, although the stopper can be surprisingly unfriendly to some...after this, there is only one more spot to look out for; about half a mile below is a riverwide surf wave which is great fun; I've even seen people bodysurfing it! The takeout is about another half mile below.
Chucky (May 2004)...'Recently there have been some changes. Quite a few rocks have been put into the river in various places to improve eddies and playspots.
The first small step weir has been improved on river left meaning you don't get stuck on the tree anymore. It is now possible to throw ends on both sides.
The large weir has seen improvements. It is now about 15ft deep and has a nice hole, good for loops and ends. Below the weir rocks have been placed to make the pool deeper and improve the eddies. However the exit is quite shallow. Half way between here and the next spot is a rock that looks good to boof on the right. It actually has a pointed rock underneath it.
The final spot, which used to be a wave is now more of a hole/wave, good for spins etc.
From here down to the bottom of the river, is a good little run. Plenty of eddies to hit, waves to surf on the run and wheel. At least one run every trip is recommended. Good for intermediates'
Gary Symes (14/08/08): I have been to the river Washburn on the 13th August, they have introduced 3 new features, and a new put in jetty is in the process of being built. The changes are very good and on the 13th of August we were able to run the river and additional features. I spoke to the river designer (sorry I forgot is official title) and he told me they are also looking to add another 5 features in the next month. So all the new features and play spots are down stream of the large weir, I suspect this will spread out the kayaking over the whole river and ease congestion on the top half later this year. Currently they have 3 small drops, only one was retentive and has a similar look and feel of the better spot upstream. the other two are easy drops with good waves. I'm looking forward to the 5 new drops yet to appear, this should provide greater playing all the way down the Washburn.Photos of 2008 changes.
OTHER NOTES: This river is great in summer when all else is dry.
Tim Lambert notes...(Oct '01) 'Just paddled this yesterday and although the river features themselves are not difficult, some in our group found the small eddies difficult and were the result of a couple of swims. Unless a somebody is in place to rescue a lost boat/paddle this is likely to go a long way before you can catch up. The river is generally narrow and fast flowing with small eddies. Not suitable for groups of more than four.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Tim Lambert, Graham Rhodes, John Lucas, Chucky and Gary Symes.