(Martholme Viaduct to Ribchester)


WHERE IS IT?: The Calder starts up in the moors above Burnley, Lancashire. The river then flows through many of the industrial East Lancashire towns including: Burnley, Padiham and Whalley. The river eventually converges with the Ribble approximately four miles before Ribchester.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: When I paddled this river we got on underneath Martholme Viaduct (GR752339, Landranger 103, 1:50,000) and got out at the De Tabley Arms, Ribchester (GR667357) after joining the River Ribble. Maps here and here.

The trip could be shortened by about five and a half miles if you got out under the roadbridge on river right, at Whalley, after the large, sloping weir. There is a rough footpath which leads upto the main road which runs through Whalley. In Whalley there is a car park and plenty of pubs.

APPROX LENGTH: The stretch I did, from Martholme Viaduct to the De Tabley Arms is about nine and a quarter miles. The trip could be shortened to around four and a half miles if you were to get out at Whalley.

TIME NEEDED: It took me a good three hours, with plenty of stopping for playing. It has though been known to take five hours in very low water.

ACCESS HASSLES: I don't think there is an access agreement, but this river is popular with fishermen, so be considerate. If you were going to get out at the De Tabley Arms let the manager know in advance and perhaps partake of a drink after the trip, just to keep them happy.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It needs a good amount of rain to be a worthwhile trip. I ran the river after a week of heavy rain. The river however fell by about six foot the night before, so it doens't hold its water well. At the get in there is a small shingle rapid on the bend. If you can float down this the rest of the trip should be reasonable.

GRADING: There is, at one point, a low grade 3 rapid which runs for quite a while, with large pools interspersing it where the pieces could be picked up regarding swimmers.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: There is a large, sloping weir at Whalley (GR735359). This weir can be paddled, but at low levels it will be a scrape; even at a good level you're touching the bottom. There is an island at the bottom of the weir and if you aim to run the right hand channel of this island, down the centre you should be ok.

The river, when we ran it, was littered with depris from an earlier flood. This included a shopping trolley and parts of a car. So do be careful if swimming.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The section from Martholme Viaduct to Whalley Weir is in White Water Lake District by Stuart Miller on page 309.

From the get in at Martholme Viaduct a small shingle rapid can be seen and this can be ran anywhere. There are small waves formed but nothing for playing on. The section between now and the bridge is flat, but flowing fast. This spot is ideal for practicing ferry gliding, reverse ferry gliding, breaking in and out if you are leaded novices down the river.

Once under Cock Bridge there is a small grade two rapid with a large boulder on river left. This rapid is a good introduction for novices to the fluffy, white stuff. There was the odd play wave, but nothing compared to the next section.

The river meanders once more and this signifies the start of the hardest rapid of the trip. This can be run from river left then near the end start heading over to river right. There is a large eddy at the bottom of the rapid on right left and a good surf wave forms on the opposite side. There is a small flat section before the next set of rapids and this repeats for another two times. All these sections are easily run and any swimmers can be rescued easily. There is the odd play wave, but no eddy's to sit in and wait for the wave to become free.

The river eases off now until the weir at Whalley. The weir is easily run, but can be portaged. Dinner can be taken at Whalley, but make sure not to stop in the gardens which back onto the river. The group I was with got out under the bridge at Whalley and sat on the sand bank before carrying on down the Calder and onto the Ribble.

The section along the Calder to the Ribble is flat with a small weir, which can be ran anywhere. The weir can be recognized by the small building on river right.

OTHER NOTES: The section of the Ribble which has now to be paddled is mentioned in the guidebook entry for Eddisford Bridge to Ribchester. The river produces some good play waves in higher water, especially at the suspension bridge.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Iain Robinson.