GUIDE TO STONESDALE BECK
NAME OF RIVER: Stonesdale Beck
WHERE IS IT?: North of England, Upper Swaledale. Small tributary of the Swale.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: We parked at NY888028 (limited parking) and walked along bridleway to a ford - roughly 1km. You could carry on up the stream to a big slide which is just in sight. In higher water get on where the park bridge to tan hill road crosses at NY885043.
Get out at the bridge just above Currack Force and the confluence with the Swale at NY888016 or carry on down the Swale (you will want to inspect Currack Force).
APPROX LENGTH: Less than 2.5 km for the section described here, another km from the higher put-in.
TIME NEEDED: 1- 2 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: None – We passed a friendly farmer walking to the get on.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Lots needed, probably at least 1.0m on the online EA Swale Park Bridge gauge. Even more needed for Currack Force to be viable.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: A number of falls, sheep fences, a low bridge, walled in gorge with siphon, Currack Force and trees(!)
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the slide above the ford there are a number of small ledge drops (1 to 1.5m) which all went without any problem. These lead down to a foot bridge which had a stock fence under it - portage easily on river right. Following this, the gradient starts to increase and there are 2 ledge drops in quick succession. Immediately after the 2nd drop there was a tree – portage river right. After this the river drops into a steep gorge and getting out is difficult - you might want to take this opportunity to inspect for trees and the particularly dirty siphon drop.
The river now narrows and 4 small drops take you into the gorge. There is then a drop with a siphon river left- the river is divided by a large rock at this point. It’s difficult portage but there’s a nice seal launch back in. The river now steepens - watch out for trees and pick the best line depending on water level. After about 150m the river gradient reduces and emerges from the gorge. Get out to inspect or portage (river right) Currack Force. In very high water Currack Force goes but the rest of the river would be very committing. It’s easy to portage down to the confluence with the swale just below Rainby or to walk round to the top and run Rainby itself.
OTHER NOTES: The lower section is lined with trees so there is a high potential for tree blockages.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Dave Peel.
If you don't want to miss the top bit of the Swale by putting in up on the moors, the 10 minute or so walk up from Rainby is a good option. Get out below Rainby and above the confluence, walk up and look at Currack Force (if the lip of this looks just about deep enough to boof, the gorge will be a good level), cross the bridge, go through the gate and walk up river left. Probably worth a look for trees on the way up. The siphony drop is about 50-100m above the next gate, climb the fence and seal launch in directly before the next (really fun!) drop - don't go right, you'll miss the best move on the run.
Currack Force goes when the gorge might be a little high for a 1st run down - there is a ledge that sticks out halfway down that catches your tail unless you've got enough water to boof out and over it. The more water the better. Pool seems deep enough as long as you can get some sort of boof though. Levels don't match up that well with the Swale as it goes up and down so fast. I've run it with plenty of water when the Swale's been on about 1.2 and rising fast and it's been too low when the Swale was on 1.5 and dropping.