(Gradbach to Rushton Spencer)


WHERE IS IT?: The sections in this guide are in the Peak Distirct. Gradbach, Dane Bridge, Rushton Spencer, Congleton. It's off the A54, best to use an O/S map. There is a youth hostel at Gradbach. Map.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Top section: grade 3+ one grade 4. Get in at Gradbach Youth hostel and take out at Dane Bridge.

Lower section: get in at Dane bridge and get out on main road A523 at Rushton Spencer.

APPROX LENGTH: Top section is about 4 miles. Lower section is about 6 miles.

TIME NEEDED: Top section takes anything from 1 hour upwards, depends on the number of swims and how much water there is. Lower section takes a good 2.5 hours plus, best to allow 4.

ACCESS HASSLES: Access is tenuous. Never had a problem running it at all, but have heard of plenty of hassles. At Gradbach, use the national park car park 500 metres before the youth hostel, you can launch right out of it. when using Dane Bridge, please be aware it is a small village, so best to leave the least number of cars there and not get changed there at all.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Top section. If it looks high and brown and it is raining get on. If it has stopped raining for more than an hour or so, then don't bother getting on as it drops that quickly!!!! There is a gauge at the get out, but it is hard to find and see. If the weir at the Rushton Spencer get out is covered and brown then the lower section is perfect.

Look right over the wall at the far left-hand corner of the gradbach car park. If there are 5 bricks above water level showing it will be a good trip. Four bricks? - well I've not paddled it at that level but it would I imagine be a handfull - depending on your ability of course. Flash water takes about an hour to fully get into the river so if you get on even when the rain is just stopping it will continue to rise. However it drops equally quickly.

GRADING: Top section. Starts off fast grade 2, then has a steep, thin grade 3+ (4 in high levels) gorge of about half a mile then continues at 2-3+ for the rest of the trip.

Lower section is grade 2+ all the way, with 2 weirs, close to the get in. Both have been paddled. First is a sloped/ stepped afair of about 10 feet, the next is a good 8ish foot high horseshoe. portaging is easy.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Top section: major hazard is farmers fences.
Lower section: 2 weirs.

Paul Smith...'Paddled this on 07/02/04, water level was dropping, in the first section from the gradbach national park car park, there was several trees down low across the river, in better water levels these would all block the river. It would be better to walk down past the youth hostel and get on near the footbridge. In the main gorge there is also a tree blocking the river, and needed to be portaged! About 1 km from the end of the river is a low barbwire fence, that is at perfect head removing height. Excellent river, grade 2/3 in the main gorge, and with plenty of interest of the intermediate paddler all of the way down.'

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Very nice paddles. Wonderful infact. BUT the Dane is a spate river and can only be run after heavy rain and best if still raining. IT runs off very quickly and becomes a rocky scrape!!

OTHER NOTES: If the water is up, and I mean up, then rry the Wildboarclough. It is a little stream that joins the Dane just above Dane bridge. You get on in the village of Wildboarclough, in the Peak District. Find the village, then find the stream, and there is a small farmers track up the side of it, walk up there as far as you like to increase the trip and run down to Dane bridge. The width isn't much above 10 feet all the way, but at times the gradient is fun. Get up to a nice 3+ in places. But again, needs loads of water.

"scruffydave" notes - 'Paddled in early October 2010 - some hazard info: The section down past the car park to the youth hostel looks very overgrown now, so I would recommend getting in by the Youth Hostel itself. The tree which for many years had been stuck about half way down the gorge had been swept away BUT a new more dangerous tree is FULLY across the river at the entrance to the gorge section. It is a big one and doesnt look like it will be swept away by winter floods. We also encountered (and removed) baling twine fully across the river which had clearly been deliberately put there to catch paddlers, along with a couple of sheep fences which had been there before.'

CONTRIBUTED BY: Richard Witheridge, of Potteries Paddlers, also Paul Smith.