GUIDE TO NEWLANDS BECK
(Little Town to Stair)
NAME OF RIVER: Newlands Beck
WHERE IS IT?: North East Lakes, just west of Keswick. The river is reached by turning off the A66 at Braithwaite, and taking the road that leads up the Derwent Fells.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The get out for the river is at Stair, where there is little parking, but you could try at the outdoor centre based there and see if they will let you park in their yard. Cross the river here, and drive up the East side of the river. The reason for this is that you can stop at Ghyll Bank, where there is a footpath that leads down to the river and over a wooden footbridge. Just above and below the bridge are two of the three bigger falls on this river, so this offers a good opportunity to inspect the falls, and also check for fallen trees. On continuing up the lane you will pass through Little Town, where there is a small car park by the bridge over the river. This is the put in.
Helen Wigmore (12/06)There is a car park at Chapel bridge, with plenty of space, and another just beyond the adventure centre at the get out (next to a phone box).
Barry Curley (02/07)Put in at road bridge near Little Town, OS Grid NY232194 (Multimap). We took out at road bridge at Stair, NY 237213. It looked possible to double the length of the paddle by continuing down to road bridge at NY 238230 but we didn't paddle it as we had to walk the shuttle; will be going back to do the extended trip soon though!
APPROX LENGTH: 3km
TIME NEEDED: 1 to 2 hours including strainer portage(s).
ACCESS HASSLES: None. No agreement known.
Barry Curley (02/07)No problems accessing or egressing. Good car park at put-in. Considerate parking at the get-out will be appreciated by locals on narrow roads, as will sensible driving - the valley roads are notoriously narrow and twisting.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Dave Bradshaw (09/08)We did it after doing the Greta, when the white line on the bridge was about a foot under water. According to the UK Rivers Guidebook "White marker on bridge at get in...on/above this will be spate trip", so obviously there was quite a lot of water about. Other than this, inspection from the footbridge will tell you if it is going or not.
Helen Wigmore (12/06)It needs lots of rain. The guide book suggests that the rocks just above stair bridge need to be covered.
Barry Curley (02/07)Inspect at bridge by take-out or at put-in. Keskadale Beck joins from the river left soon after getting on and more than doubled volume when we ran it. We ran it on a day that the Greta was dog-low (about 3' of beach showing at Fitz Park) but following a couple of days of fairly steady drizzle and rain. Maybe there had been localised rain in the Newlands valley?
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: There are a lot of overhanging trees at the start, though they are quite small. Fallen trees are going to be a likely hazard, and since the river is narrow and fast running with small eddies you might have to act fast to avoid running into one.
There is large boulder sitting in the middle of the river near the end of the run, and when we ran it, it had collected three large trees that didn't look as if they were going to move anytime soon. Fortunately, there were good sized eddies above the obstruction, so it was easy to stop. However, an awkward portage followed, up a steep slippery bank and over a sheep fence.
Barry Curley (02/07)Trees, trees and more trees. Many trees ganged up at one point forming a monster (for a beck!) river wide strainer. Rapids were fairly steady at 3 with one or two more interesting small drops. Look out for trees.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Initially the river is shallow, with lots of overhanging trees. Fortunately these are quite small, so you are able to brush the branches out of the way. Soon Keskadale Beck enters from the left, swelling the volume, and there is a bit more space between the trees. Trees are a bit of a theme of this river. It is tree-lined, fast, continuous, with only very small eddies. It is important to make sure that you can see beyond the last visible eddy to make sure that the route is clear.
The first obstacle of note is where a large rock sits in the middle of the river. Most of the current bends around the right of it, and it is not really possible to see past it. Unfortunately the eddies above it are small, so these have to be snatched at so that you can stop and scout the river below.
After this, the gradient is moderate but continuous, so visibility is fine until you come to the first of the bigger falls. This is one of those that you inspected from the footpath, so there is no need to scout for trees before running it. After the fall is a nice big eddy so that you can all stop and take a breather before heading on under the footbridge.
After the bridge the river passes through a small graveyard section that requires a bit of navigation before dropping down another significant fall. A stopper guards the line down the fall which should be punched through right to left to take you into the deep water close to the left hand wall.
A third fall follows shortly, which is probably the most complicated on the river. It is run on the right. A stopper halfway down the fall tends to turn you left, in which case you will drop sideways into the hole at the bottom.
The gradient eases until you reach the get out. Egress can be made above or just below the bridge. Once again eddy service is poor, and the eddy below the bridge will only take a couple of boats.
OTHER NOTES: Helen Wigmore (12/06)It's mainly grade 3, with one grade 4 shortly after a footbridge - this finishes with a drop into a narrow boily gorge. Trees are an issue throughout though, and all drops/rapids should be treated with care and/or inspected accordingly! At time of writing the river was totally blocked by a large fallen tree and considerable debris shortly after the grade 4 fall. We portaged up a slippery bank on the right hand side.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Dave Bradshaw (Manchester Canoe Club), Helen Wigmore (York Canoe Club) and Barry Curley.
There is a telephone pole like tree trunk right across the beck immediately below where Keskadale Beck enters from river Left. Most of this was just above the water though we just about managed to sneak under it hard against the river right bank, but had there been another 6" of water in the beck we wouldn't have been able to. Had the level been 9" higher I reckon that we'd have been able to bump over it from middle to river left - it's a very "clean" log without many sticky-out bits.
The big strainer shown in the guide - above the Newlands Adventure Centre - has been pretty much cleared. There is still a sizable tree fully across the beck but about 4' above todays water level. Just below this the Centre has installed a wire-rope bridge, also well above head height today but a look out for this at seriously big levels - from debris along the river banks I'd estimate that the beck had fallen as much as 3 feet overnight - from what I would consider seriously big.