GUIDE TO THE RIVER WEAR
(Eastgate to Stanhope)
NAME OF RIVER: Wear
WHERE IS IT?: Weardale, from Eastgate to Stanhope
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Hag Bridge, NY 957 384 from the rocks on river left below the weir. Alternatively, put on to the bottom of Rookhope Burn at Eastgate Bridge (river right downstream of bridge, NY 952 388 and paddle the short way down to the main river.
Take-out river left directly below Stanhope bridge at NY 985 391 by scrambling up to the B6278. Alternatively, paddle on almost a kilometre of fairly flat water to Stanhope Ford where the easiest parking is river right upstream of the ford and stepping stones at NY 960 392.
APPROX LENGTH: 3-5 km depending on access points used.
TIME NEEDED: An hour or two at a good level.
ACCESS HASSLES: No agreement, but this top section is paddled far less often than lower down, and seems to have no real problems.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Gauge at Stanhope Ford. Will run at 0.5 feet, but better above 1 foot. At three feet, water is turbid and fast flowing, Rivercall North East number is 09066197722, which has various readings for the Wear.
GRADING: 2-3 if weirs portaged.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: If you put on at Rookhope Burn, the weir at Hag Bridge is a hazard - run far right or portage (take out right, cross bridge, put in below) if high. Will run in centre at lower levels. Weir above Stanhope bridge has three channels with concrete walls between. Landmark is railway bridge crossing the river diagonally on a lattice from upriver left to downriver right. Weir follows immediately, and drops into 200m gorge below the roadbridge.
Centre has a big stopper (runs through easily if gauge is 1 foot) and may be difficult to escape in high water. Left lands on rocks (not recommended), right is a chicken chute in reasonable levels, but the water is boily below and escaping back to the main flow can be entertaining. Portage right, but putting back on is difficult, possibly best after the gorge. Trees can be a hazard in this section, and are particularly likely to get caught up on the Stanhope weir.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Apart from the hazards noted, this section is fairly strightforward. Probably not worth doing on its own, but combined with either the section from Wearhead above, or with the section to Wolsingham below (or indeed both).
OTHER NOTES: With the level at one foot at Stanhope, we ran Wearhead to Wolsingham (28 km) in one run, all quite fast, and very little inspection needed at this level. At both higher and lower levels the trip could take longer (we ran out of daylight to continue beyond Wolsingham, so I guess five hours for the lot).
CONTRIBUTED BY: A.E.R.Waddington (MX: pennine.demon.co.uk, box: andrew)