GUIDE TO THE RIVER WHARFE
(Beckermonds to Hubberholme)
NAME OF RIVER: Wharfe.
WHERE IS IT?: Langstrothdale, North Yorkshire. Sort of in the middle of the the Pennines. Follow B6170 above Grassington and turn left either at or just after Buckden (two routes).
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in is at Beckermonds, where two becks join. The valley is known as Langstrothdale here, even though it's upper Wharfe. Grid ref SD874803 (Yorkshire Dales tourist map). There's a footbridge and places to park.
Put in at the confluence. Follow the minor Dales road from Hubberholme to Deepdale and Oughtershaw to get there. Put in at the confluence of two small streams (Oughtershaw Beck and Green Field Beck) or where the road suddenly climbs to go over to Wensleydale. Or on the Road which follows the river as you get higher up. Put in anywhere if you want. Pull out at Hubberholme on the left just below the bridge (SD927782). Then do it again!
APPROX LENGTH: 4.3 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 30 minutes in spate.
ACCESS HASSLES: No access agreements but the river is paddled regularly. Normally the river is too ledgy to paddle and can only be done in spate or high spate. So no fishing interests, so no one will bother you at all and the locals will consider you daft townies anyway.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The river is best run in spate preferable as the rain is still coming down. I did this section of river one summer in a belting rainstorm. A lot of the other stuff was manic so we kept going further upstream...its a great section, some problems with trees and strainers that up the grade a little but no major falls or rapids. I walked the full section today (March '00) and there's nothing major - problem wise. In one of the sections though there has in the past been a barbed wire fence at neck height right across the river!
As you come through Buckden, stop on the green opposite the Buck Hotel look at the low level road to Hubberholme. If its flooded, take the high road and paddle. If not turn around and paddle further down. Check clearance under bridge at Deepdale as you drive up.
There's an online EA gauge at Kettlewell. Calibrations are roughly - Low: 1.10m, Medium: 1.40m, High: 1.80m.
GRADING: Grades 3 and 4 when just paddleable. 4 to 5 continuous in spate with low trees dragging branches in the water.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Barbed wire. Lots of limestone ledges, can be shallow if you swim. Tree free before bridge. Trees after Bridge.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Summary...river runs fairly straight, ledges push water from side to side. Low bridge in middle. Lots of manoeuvring skills needed. River goes down hill like a roller coaster. Only for the committed expert. You can run it more than once in the day, allow about 1hr to 1 1/2 hour round trip.
0.2 miles class 2/3 bend in river trees on both banks.
0.3 miles stream enters from river R 3+ fall.
0.5 miles 3+ fall. There is parking here as an alternate put in - the footpath to the above falls can be walked easily - no access problems.
Class 2/3 from here to.....
0.7 miles 3- fall.
0.8 miles 3+/4- fall...trees indicate where the fall is, and are also a hazard in high water.
1.0 miles farm on r/h side footbridge just after a 4/4+ fall.
1.2 miles barn indicates a 3+ followed closely by a 4- fall - watch the trees.
1.3 miles green iron road bridge. Falls above and below are 3/4.
1.4 miles fencing on river rt indicates a section of 3+ and 4- drops about 3 in total.
1.7 miles 3+/4- fall.
1.8 miles 3+ fall.
2.2 miles 3+ fall.
2.3 miles a packhorse bridge crosses river to ' Yokenthwaite'. Good 4- just after bridge.
Next mile to 3.3 miles is steady with less descent and less major drops - still good in high water - THIS SECTION HAS BEEN KNOWN TO HAVE BARBED WIRE ACROSS THE RIVER!
3.3 miles gully emerges from left (dry gorge). Next mile class 2/3.
4.3 miles Hubberholme bridge.
OTHER NOTES: Probably one of the best White Water runs in the dales. Not worth a shuttle. As fast as your wife/ girlfriend/ partner can drive down you will be at the bottom ready for another go. Top bit, the road is so close s/he can follow you with the car and look at you out of the window.
It is even possible in super-spate to go higher up the valley on either Green Field or Oughtershaw Becks! Other spate becks in the area include Cray Gill and Buckden Beck - anyone run these and fancy sending a guide in?
The next section is Hubberholme to Kettlewell...
Will Hemming, Leeds Uni Canoe Club (4/2/02)...'The get in described at Beckermonds seems to have dodgy access. We drove up there put there were lots of "Private" signs. Better to put in at the 3+ falls where there is roadside parking. The small falls has a tree in river right, but is ok on the left. The first time we ran it, the rock in the centre of the river directly opposite the lay-by was completely covered (by a perhaps a foot), making for a really good level with nice stoppers and nothing too difficult. When we did it on Saturday, this was only just covered, and everything was much lower, making it more technical but play waves not so good (still worth a trip though - the river had risen a lot by the time we got off by the pub). In terms of tree hazards, there are a couple places where the trees are low hanging, but reasonably easy to avoid. It would have to be VERY high for these to present a serious hazard. There is currently no barbed wire across the river, but there is a blue supply cable across the river at one point, floating on the surface. No problems getting over it, though. Even at low water there are still some excellent stoppers and waves! Well worth a morning run after rain, particularly if you're in a hurry.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Andy Craven, Will Hemmings and Chris Hawkesworth.
I suggest this parking is used for Oughtershaw Beck aswell, once again, avoids agro.
Just another suggestion, dont bother doing Green Fields Beck, once again, its technically a private road and could cause agro, the upper Wharfe section is brilliant and the access is really good if you park where I suggested and get on at the confluence.
The Upper Wharfe feels fairly similar at lower levels, but is supposed to get quite a bit more full-on at significantly higher levels.
For the get in, as we pulled off the road down to Beckermonds a local drove by the opposite way and shook her head as we went past. No words or confrontations, but we would've felt uncomfortable changing and launching amongst the farmhouses. if you continue through Beckermonds there's open land where you can park, change and launch on to Green Field Beck quite easily without causing disturbance.
The only fence we encountered was on Green Field Beck, but was easily avoided. The rest of the river was fine, a few overhanging trees in the lower half of the river, but nothing major at the level it was at and easily avoidable.
Another thing worth mentioning, the road and footpath run alongside this section pretty much the whole way, so if one does end up having an epic it's easy to get off, or start lower down the river for an easier run. Scouting and portaging is also easy.