(Garsdale Head to Road Bridge)


WHERE IS IT?: A tributary of the River Rawthey, flowing down Garsdale beside the A 684 towards Sedbergh. OS maps 97 and 98.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Road Bridge just below Garsdale Head for the upper Clough. The lower Clough begins at a Road Bridge at GR 71390; but you will want to carry on downstream past the bridge to take-out at Sedbergh New Bridge, after joining the last bit of the Rawthey.


TIME NEEDED: 1 - 2 hours.


WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Really heavy rain is needed to bring this up; don't bother trying after 12 hours. You might not want to paddle this in huge spate; trees are a problem. And some of the drops get really sticky.

The ford at GR 727901 is a useful indicator - the water should be flowing over the top to make the upper section worthwhile (at LW water flows through pipes under the concrete).

GRADING: Grade 4, quite continuous and steep.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Watch out for trees. Plenty of fences near the river which are a hazard also in high levels.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Just below Garsdale Head is a 2-3m bedrock step (GR 784917) which requires HW to be shot - this is usually bounced down the left.

At lower levels access is possible at the next road bridge (GR 782915). Low branches can be a problem on this upper section if it's HW.

Bouncy water leads to the next road bridge (GR 779912) with a wire fence across the river requiring portage (possible alternative access).

The next section has many small bedrock steps which are quite close together making this quite continuous but never difficult. The river then goes under another road bridge (GR 775907) with a single wire across (may require portage at very HW).

The river then whisks you into a narrow and exciting, if rather short gorge, that culminates in a large drop (3m, IV) into a good deep pool with two smaller drops and fast eddyless water immediately above! This drop, known as 'Lemmings Fall' (paddle it and understand!) is just visible from the road just above the bridge (GR 772906) but it is much more exciting to run it blind!

Mike Hayward (Dec 2003)...'You might be interested in how this fall got its name. We had arranged to paddle the Clough, but everyone and their mates turned up. The group probably totalled 10 paddlers. All very competent and only 2 of us knew the river. Since the river was in spate we got on right at the top, and of course we neglected to tell the other 8 of the lemming falls. Of course the run starts 100m upstream and once you pass the point of no return - event horizon - you are committed to the ever steepening rapids and the final fall. OK, we had 2 swimmers and everyone commented on the 'shock' factor of not knowing it was there. So Lemming falls was named.'

Easier water follows for 2.5km although this section does contain many bouncy rapids. There is quite a chunky drop underneath the third(?) bridge (GR 752898) and then another under the road bridge in Garsdale (GR 745896).

The 2km after Garsdale has many bedrock steps providing continuous and interesting paddling until the concrete ford (GR 727901) which spans the river (see water level above). There is then 2km of fairly flat water until the road bridge which is the start for the lower section. You'll want to carry on!

OTHER NOTES: A great little river that is very underrated but provides lots of entertainment. The Clough has a small catchment area that needs heavy rain to bring it into condition as with the Rawthey. If the Rawthey is possible then the lower Clough will also be unmissable and combines with the lower section to make an exciting run which is better than its sister the Rawthey. The first time I did the Clough we did the Rawthey first - these combined to make a great day out!

Anyone paddled the River Dee which is the next valley south? Apparently it disappears into a cave at one point...?

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Leicester, also Simon Wiles, Mark Rainsley and Mike Hayward.