GUIDE TO ROOKHOPE BURN
NAME OF RIVER: Rookhope Burn.
WHERE IS IT?: Tributary of the River Wear, flows through Eastgate in Weardale.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Once in Eastgate cross Rookhope Burn over stone bridge. Immediately after crossing bridge (going up Weardale) turn right and drive past caravan site to your right. Drive up this road until you see a wooden footbridge spanning the beck to your right, next to a layby. Get on here (Multimap Link). Get off near the caravan site, before the road bridge or at crosskeys pub by road bridge at Eastgate
APPROX LENGTH: 1.5 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 1 hour.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown but the gentleman in the caravan park at the get-out was very friendly when we did it and seemed pleased to see people enjoying the river. Parking at pub can be problematic.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: A small pipe spans the river just upstream of the road bridge in Eastgate. For the conditions described one could probably have paddled under the pipe without any great difficulties. Grading unknown for higher levels.
Richie (19/2/01) ... look at water eastgate road if you can run it go to top and get on for a no bum scraps run
Guy Genge (24/07/07) Look at the steps on the upstream side of the bridge by the Cross Keys in Eastgate. There's one step built into the bridge, a small gap, then a flight of three steps. When we paddled it (24 Jun '07) the water was just on the upper edge of the 4th step from the top (ie. the third of the flight three...). At this level, everthing went, though more water would've been better. If it is much higher, trees would start to really spoil your day. If it's any lower don't bother - you'll leave bits of your boat all over the top half of the run and the lip of the last drop will a bit dry.
Joe Alexander (Feb 2011) If you can paddle under the pipe at the get-out and all the rocks looking up river are covered it's a go-er. At the top by the bridge if the small beach up-river of the bridge is just covered then all is good. If the last big drop looks brown and covered both sides of the drop it is at a good level, if it's wall to wall full and brown with branches that will make it a bit sporting.
There's an EA gauge at the end of the run which should provide an ideal way of checking on the state of the beck. Unfortunately it's not calibrated yet! I suspect it'll need to be high up the "typical range" to go (0.5/0.6m?) - does anyone have any more information?
GRADING: Grade 3 (4).
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: 4m natural fall turned into gauging weir with a concrete blob - semicircular plunge pool with suspect hydraulic. When run (winter '98) a wire fence spanned one of the main rapids. Unknown plunge pool depth on final fall.
Guy Genge also notes... Trees. One notable log in the first 3rd of the run, plus lots of low flying branches throughout the run. Also, the small (2ft?) drop next to the campsite whaich appear fairly mundane from above has an enormous undercut on river right and a metal rod sicking out of the lip on the far left. When we paddled it (24 Jun \'07) a centre left line worked fine, check it for yourself...
Joe Alexander (Feb 2011) Keep an eye out for trees in the bottom of all the drops and over hung branches as there are currently loads.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A fun little spate run with a few falls and some strange rapids. Some sections are very shallow and at times we got out and carried some bottom-scraping sections. This is not a hugely continuous section but does contain some fun bits. Due to being dragged out early on a sunday morning to paddle this I make no claims that this write up is in perfect order!
There are a couple of main rapids on the section (grade 3) where the bed consists of channels in the bed rock and the route down necessitates dropping sideways into strange slots and stoppers, all whilst pointing downstream(?!!?!). As mentioned one of these rapids had a wire fence spanning it which was navigable but not visible - one of our party saw the fence at the last minute, eddied out and held it up. In higher water, if there, the fence would not be pleasant. After a couple of rapids an obvious horizon line is seen. Easy eddies on river right allow inspection of 2m fall which boofs nicely.
From here nothing of note is reached until the caravan site on river right. We got out just after a 0.5m angled rock ledge at the upstream limit of the caravan site, so the rest of this guide is based on inspection only.
Below here there is a 4m fall which, as mentioned above, has been altered to create a gauging station. Look at it yourselves and decide whether to run it or not - the hole at the bottom looked a tad unfriendly and may re-circulate swimmers or boats.
The final fall on the river is a wide 3 - 3.5m fall. None of us could be bothered scrambling down the bank with a boat to assess the plunge pool depth but it looked to be shallow close to the base and possibly deeper further out. Due to a very shallow lip boofing could prove tricky, hence this one was left for another day.
Bob Evans adds...'I am reliably informed the last two falls run OK at levels which the whole river can be paddled. The biggest of the falls looks bigger to me than the 4 metres described, I would rate it as a fun looking 5+ metres.
OTHER NOTES: Richie (19/2/01) has paddled the length of this burn to the confluence with the River Wear and notes 4 hazards:
'1) rock slide, 3ft drop, shoot middle, trees left top right pool!
2) 3m/ 10 ft. long straight, trees right, run left turning to middle (cliff on left sticks out) a bad swim will need a rope.
3) 16ft concrete top by caravan site, top right inspect, safety pool deep but may pull swimmer back, run middle in low water down the slot. Run right high water, no problem if you are in your boat.
4 ) 2m/ 8ft run middle off lip, pool deep, but there is a clear ledge under the fall.
Fast tight g3/ g4. drops. Fun and lots of it!'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mike Redding, Bob Evans, Richie (Durham Pirates CC), Guy Genge and Joe Alexander.