GUIDE TO LITTLE LANGDALE BECK
NAME OF RIVER: Little Langdale Beck. Not to be confused with, Great Langdale Beck.
WHERE IS IT?: It flows out of Little Langdale in the Central Lake District.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Start off either in Little Langdale Tarn (near the road) or at a bridge, hidden down a rocky lane, beside a ford, GR 029306. Carry your boats down the lane; if there is enough water to paddle you won't want to take your car through the ford. Take-out at the bridge at GR 330030 or carry on down into Elterwater Lake which in turn will take you to the River Brathay. This makes for a longer trip, but it's flat from here (assuming you remember to portage Skelwith Falls).
APPROX LENGTH: 2 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 1 hour.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown.
Martyn Eddy (Jan 2005)...'Just done Little Langdale Beck and the River Brathay in my 1st ever time in a boat and already discovered the love of the local farmer just above Elterwater...after physically pushing 1 of group down the river with various language, only to discover he has chainsawed down a tree with various bits of pallets attached to it making a definite portage, but with no land to get out on...nice. Also there were a lot of trees down in the beck itself and in some of the falls making it a bit of a pain! Other than that, the trip was good and a definite return for the future.'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs heavy rain to get going. If it's paddleable at the get-in so will the rest be. Not necessarily paddleable when the River Brathay is paddleable. Not recommended in high water levels (out of banks?) due to hazards described below.
GRADING: Grade 2 and 3, but Colwith Force is certainly Grade 6.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Sheep fences, trees and wire in the river. You probably don't want to accidentally overshoot Colwith Force...
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the ford, you have to portage an annoying wire fence on river right. There are then two sheep fences which could just about be 'limbo'ed around in medium water levels. The river improves then, with small falls and rapids to enjoy in a wooded gorge.
When you reach a rocky weir be aware that not far below is Colwith Force, a major waterfall. The portage is on river left past some huts and down a slippery series of wooden steps. The river is worth doing just to inspect the falls and imagine! They are certainly paddleable and are occasionally run in low water. Many paddlers choose just to fall off the final (7-8 metre) waterfall and avoid the lead-in. perhaps something to do on a dry day?
Bob Evans (April 2003)...'We paddled Colwith Force in the middle of a dry spell when there was nothing else to do. The tree that has been lodged in the pool above the final fall for the last year or so has been removed by some kind person, the only problem is that it is now in pieces in the pool below the fall.
There are four main sections to the fall, dropping about 45 ft in total. The first drop is fairly straightforward.
The second drop is much more tricky, the pool is deep but a large rock is placed where you want to land!
The third drop is also straightforward but there is still part of the tree wedged in the lip. The final fall, about 20 ft, can be run left or right. The pool below both drops is deep. The river left drop is trickier, there is a boulder near the base thats just missable, there was also a lot of debris from the tree on this side. The river right drop is easier once you have negotiated the constriction on the lip.'
Below the falls another annoying tree has to be portaged. Several hundred metres of grade 3, including a drop where the river is blocked by a large rock, lead to the road bridge described above, a possible get-out unless you want to go on to do the River Brathay. The river is flat as it approaches Elterwater. Paddle across the tarn to join the River Brathay.
OTHER NOTES: A short trip for those who like to explore; not much quality paddling, but plenty of interest.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Bob Evans and Martyn Eddy.