(Lankrigg Moss to Thornholme Farm)


WHERE IS IT?: West Cumbria, off the road between Calder Bridge and Ennerdale Bridge.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: To reach the put-in from Calder Bridge, take the Cold Fell road towards Ennerdale Bridge. After about 5 miles, the road takes a sharp 90 degree turn to the left and there is a bridle path going off to the right. Stop and park here. Walk down the path approx 1km until you can see the river and then make your way down to it. NY075128 .

You can either take out at the put on for the Lower Calder (Thornholme Farm NY 06577 08986) or carry on down to any of the three possible get offs for this section.

APPROX LENGTH: 5km to the lower get on, 9km to Calderbridge or 13km to the sea.

TIME NEEDED: This top section will take ~2 hours depending on water levels, becomes very quick at high flows.


WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: You need to catch it as it is raining, or soon after. Preferably the road will be running with water and large puddles on the drive up cold fell. Look at the river from Calder Bridge. It needs to be brown and swollen, for this top section to run properly. If when you walk in the first section looks like you can float down it then youre in for a fairly mellow version of the trip. If it's big, brown and there aren't any rocks visible then it's going to be quick, continuous and few eddies.

N.B. Last time I ran this at a decent level, thered been 40mm of rain at St Bees ( over the space of about 8 hours. I got on about 2hrs after the rain had stopped and it was obviously dropping. It must have been raging earlier in the day!

GRADING: Continuous 3+/4 possibly 4+ for the main drop. Becomes more continuous with fewer eddies with more water.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: : Fallen and overhanging trees may be an issue in the upper reaches of the river due to its speed and lack of convenient eddies.

The main fall can require inspection and is a 4m double drop. Get out on the left to inspect and set safety if necessary.

Just before the confluence with Worm Gill (the put on for the bottom section) the bridge across the river has a drop down fence into the river which may need to be portaged and could cause problems due to a lack of good eddies above it. Make sure that youre spread out if paddling in a group.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the put on the river keeps a fairly constant gradient for the entire run. To start with it's simple paddling through the moor. After ~1.5km the river takes a sharp left turn and goes into the first of two narrow gorges where the level steps up a bit and dodging overhanging trees adds to the spice of the experience.

As you pass under an ancient stone bridge in the final gorge (Monks bridge on OS maps) the river opens out, and you soon pass under a new wooden footbridge. If its all too much for you by this point, you can escape up to the road on river right, but beware the walk-out is as long as the earlier walk-in.

About 200m after this bridge, the river notches up a grade with some interesting technical rapids in a more open environment. The river here feels more powerful than before and all too soon you come to the crux of the run a long slide that drops around 4m in total. Scouting and safety is easier from the left, but like the rest of the river eddies are not good above it. The river then eases before the confluence with Worm Gill, where a sheep fence dangling into the river from a footbridge may require portaging (it was sneakable on the right Jun 09).

Either take out here at Thornholme or carry on down and complete the lower section.

Pictures of the Upper Calder

OTHER NOTES: Above this section the river looks fairly flat although I haven't actually looked to see if this is the case. Other rivers nearby include the Lower Calder, Bleng, Irt, Ehen and Esk. Worm Gill is almost entirely flat, though right up at the very top there are an interesting series of waterfalls which have (probably) yet to be paddled. Good luck though, as its a looooong walk in!

CONTRIBUTED BY: Rich C and Tim Burne (aka. Poke).