GUIDE TO WEST BECK
(New Wath Bridge to Beck Hole)
NAME OF RIVER:West Beck
WHERE IS IT?:Near Goathland, North York Moors, west of Whitby.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in at New Wath Bridge at NZ 815 002 in Scar Wood. Ample parking in the layby.
Get out river right at Beck Hole at the foot bridge (NZ 821 021). Look for the small Cottage on River Right after the final gorge section. Park at Beck Hole near the pub or over the Bridge that runs over Eller Beck.
To avoid trees get out river right just after Mallyan Spout (Water Fall).
APPROX LENGTH: ~3km if starting from the road bridge in Scarr Wood.
TIME NEEDED: One hour depending on inspections and portages (trees).
ACCESS HASSLES: All National Parkland so shouldnt be any problems. There is a public footpath river right all the way to Mallyan Spout. After this the Beck flows into a steep gorge and the footpath runs along the top of the gorge into Beck Hole.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs to have been raining hard for a couple of days and then needs to be paddled within 24 hours. If the Esk is running over 3 on the gage at Egton Bridge there is a good chance West Beck is running.
GRADING: Grade 4.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees, particularly below Mallyan Spout. Heavy snow of Dec 2009 brought lots down in the gorge blocking the river in several places. Having walked it during the summer and seen it low there are always bits of trees stuck fast between the boulders in the boulder garden sections so beware if you end up swimming.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This is a good Beck, but it has to be raining pretty hard to make the trip worthwhile. It is always best combined with a paddle on the nearby Esk.
After getting on at the road bridge in Scar Wood you are straight into a deep boulder garden where the line through is fairly obvious. The Beck then bends river right and you are confronted with a horizon line. In very high levels there is a line river left, if low the left line is an impassable boulder choke that would probably lead to a pin. River right leads into an enclosed pool at all levels, the entrance to the pool has a small drop and stopper. Once in the pool it is a mandatory portage as you cant paddle out of it. Either way get out here and have a look, there is a large eddy river right just before it.
After this there are several boulder gardens again with fairly obvious lines, you will also come across a small island that needs to be run river left.
Once you reach a footbridge Mallyan Spout is only around the corner. A nice boulder garden leads up to the Spout and you generally get a crowd of sightseers here. The river then bends left over a small ledge, at low levels this is a 3ft shelf drop sometimes with a defined tongue. In higher levels this can be a sticky stopper if not hit with speed. In January 2010 there was a tree down immediately after this drop, therefore inspection is recommended here.
The river now follows the footpath for a few hundred meters before entering a long deep gorge. In January 2010 this section as totally clogged up with trees that had fallen during the heavy snow, meaning long difficult portages. Most of these trees were rather large and will probably be there for some time to come. Therefore its recommended you get out at Mallyan Spout.
When clear this section is very straight forward the only major feature being another small shelf drop that is generally ran river right.
Once out of the gorge the get out is not far away. As soon as you can see the small cottage river right you can get out on river right and then use the public footpath back into Beck Hole.
OTHER NOTES: It is rumoured you can get in further above New Wath Bridge (we are planning to try this next time its running and then miss out the gorge section below the Spout). A suggested put-in would be from the road bridge at SE 801 992.
The pub in Beck Hole is highly recommended for a post paddle drink.
The Esk is also a good paddle nearby and the other tributary, Eller Beck is rumoured to contain some steep stuff - anyone run it?
CONTRIBUTED BY: Rob Helyard, Colin Braithwaite, Graeme Benson and Phil Savage all members of Hull and District Canoe Club.