GUIDE TO BLACK BECK
NAME OF RIVER: Black Beck.
WHERE IS IT?: SW corner of the Lakes. 5 minutes from the bottom of the Lower Duddon.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: From Duddon Bridge on the A595 continue West, after 5 minutes take the right hand turn signposted towards Broadgate. You'll pass over the river where you can gauge the level. If you can paddle down without scraping here, the gorge sections will be runnable. Turn right onto the Fell road, and continue to the next bridge (the put in). Parking is possible on the wide bridge at the put in.
Take out at the small bridge in Hallthwaites. To get to this takeout, continue past the broadgate turning on the A595, and take the signposted junction.
APPROX LENGTH: 3 km.
TIME NEEDED: 1 - 2 hrs.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Very much a spate stream. If it's been raining hard for a bit, check it out from one of the bridges.
GRADING: Grade 4.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Wire fences, trees, more fences, more trees, get the picture?
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the put in bridge (put on downstream of the wire fence under the bridge), the first gorge is a short distance downstream, around the first right hand corner. The 500m gorge consists of a number of narrow small stepped drops. Halfway down the gorge is a fallen tree just following a blind bend - caution. Portaging this, you'll see a few more downed trees just downstream. At the end of the first gorge is a sheep fence. Just below the sheep fence are some downed trees which could be avoided with very careful paddling.
As you approach some houses on the left bank, another sheep fence lurks on a section with no breakouts. You may be able to push under the fence, but portage on the left if in any doubt. The small road bridge will cause you to duck under the undergrowth clinging to the low bridge. The main A595 road bridge follows shortly. The second gorge is immediately below. Very similar to the upper gorge, perhaps a bit narrower. Towards the end of the gorge, a tree blocks the river on another blind corner. We noticed it mainly due to the root ball sticking out high up on the bank. Portage left. A few more narrow falls lead to the end of the gorge. Some barbed wire is strung across the river at a very inconvenient level, but can be snuck under on the left. Shortly below this, a large double wooded sheep fence totally blocks the river; this is easily visible on a longer straight section on the river.
About 50m below the sheep fence, you come to a small weir easily shot anywhere. Just below this, some trees totally overhang the river. Some barbed wire lurks in the overhanging branches. The take out bridge follows shortly.
OTHER NOTES: I would not recommend this river. But without the wires and trees it would be great. There is supposedly one fall/ rapid further downstream from this section.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Simon Wiles, Whitewater Tourists.