GUIDE TO THE RIVER WHARFE
(Barden Bridge to Bolton Bridge)
NAME OF RIVER: Wharfe.
WHERE IS IT?: Yorkshire, Grassington near Skipton. The OS 'Yorkshire Dales South' map covers the section.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Good parking at Barden near the bridge and it's a public path so no problems there. Grid Reference SE052574.
Get out at Bolton Bridge. Take out on river right, where there is plenty of parking 100m downstream of the bridge. Grid Reference SE071526.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 miles.
ACCESS HASSLES: No access agreements but the river is paddled regularly. This section goes through the estate of the Duke of Devonshire and is prime trout fishing water, there has been lots of harassment in the past and tensions sometimes run high!
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS:
GRADING: 3 (5).
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The Strid.
1 km to an old aqueduct which leads into the wooded area of Strid Woods.
Another half km to a grade 3- rapid which is 200 metres above the Strid, grade 5+ depending on level.
There are two small grade 2's before the Strid, then you have plenty of chance to get out and scout either left or right above the fall.
The Strid (grade 5-) is a long thin section of river where the Wharfe narrows to 5-6 feet in places. The main problems are beneath surface in form of ledges which if you're swept under - you can forget it! At a higher level as seen in pictures, it's runnable. The pictures show med-high water and most of the ledges were covered. I'd have graded it at 5- this day. At lower levels it runs at class 5+ and many would portage, the ledges that trap you need divers to get to you and even good safety cover would be of little use in an entrapment situation. (2 tourists fell in at the Strid last year and one didn't emerge for nearly a week)
The rest of the trip is easy; one small grade 2 fall 100 metres below the Strid.
Flat water, plenty of wild life for next 1km, stream emerges from left. A small grade 3- rapid here.
5 islands then cover the river 400m down from here, hardest line is grade 3-. It's a good run down the far left.
It's then 300m to 'Cavendish Pavillion' tea rooms. boating is allowed from here.
There are no major rapids now. The next obstacle is the stepping stones at Bolton Abbey which are 1km from Cavendish Pavillions.
From the stepping stones, it is rocky shallow grade 2 to Bolton Bridge...take out right, where there is plenty of parking 100m downstream of the bridge.
OTHER NOTES: Consider continuing downstream.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Andy Craven.