GUIDE TO THE RIVER WEST ALLEN
(Whitfield to Cupola Bridge)
NAME OF RIVER: West Allen.
WHERE IS IT?: Allendale (nr. Hexham) OS Map 87. It flows into the River Allen.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: We got in above Whitfield, follow A686 past Whitfield until a turning on left for Nenthead is seen. Take this left, follow road till a bridge over the river is crossed. Park in layby on right for the get in (NY780541). Take out is at Cupola Bridge NY800581, or carry on down the Allen.
APPROX LENGTH: Unknown.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: I caught the West Allen in spate on 29 01 00.
GRADING: Grade 3.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS:Waterfall. Weir. Trees. Whitfield Weir is now dangerous as the toe has collapsed, leaving several exposed stakes across most of its width and various metal reinforcing bars.
River right is the easiest portage.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Insignificant rapids lead down to a caravan site on the right. BEWARE THE WATERFALL. Get ready to break out on the left after a left bend in the river to inspect a 4m drop. We chose to paddle left side for ease of rescue. The plunge pool was deep enough for Topos and a Kendo. The stopper held the upturned boat of one of the paddlers but kindly ejected the swimmer. The boat swiftly followed without any assistance. Insignificant rapids follow till Whitfield weir. Look out for a church spire and prepare to breakout. We broke out on the left side to inspect the weir, which we usually paddle on the left side. This side is currently blocked by a tree, so a ferry glide is required to descend on extreme right about 1.5m from the right wall. Beware of metal rods protruding from the weir face. Misjudged descents saw two paddlers going over the rods without incident but it is not recommended.
Update Jan16, Steve Agar - Whitfield Weir is now dangerous as the toe has collapsed, leaving several exposed stakes across most of its width and various metal reinforcing bars. River right is the easiest portage.
Insignificant rapids follow down to Cupola bridge.
OTHER NOTES: Not really worth it, as we could have spent the time paddling a second river. Interesting all the same. Don't forget about the section after this, on the River Allen from Cupola Bridge to Plankey Mill.
CONTRIBUTED BY: John Bell.