GUIDE TO THE RIVER DEE
(Farndon to Chester Weir)
NAME OF RIVER: Dee (or Afon Dyfrdwy if you're Welsh...)
WHERE IS IT?: All over the place from Bala to Chester and beyond. This bit is all in Cheshire.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in at Farndon SJ 4121 5443. There is a small council car park immediately upstream of the bridge in the centre of the village. This is river right. Bit of a high bank (4 feet or so). Please don't seal launch as it trashes the bank. Take out at Eccleston Ferry SJ 4151 6220 on river left, or carry on to Sandy Lane SJ 4198 6601 (river right, just past the Chester sailing club) or Chester Weir, SJ 4084 6590.
APPROX LENGTH: 9km to Eccleston Ferry. An extra 5km to Chester. Bit difficult to measure accurately as it wanders all over the place.
TIME NEEDED: 4 hours of gentle cruise including a lunch stop.
ACCESS HASSLES: Tidal and an historic navigation, so you have full right of passage. Access points are all public roads or car parks. Most of the rest of the banks are Duke of Westminster's, but we have never had any problem stopping for lunch.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Will run at any level. Can breach its banks at very high levels. Check at Eccleston Ferry. Note that the tide comes up here and on high tides there is a big upstream current. Check tides before setting off, or this could be hard work.
GRADING: Flat. Might reach grade 1 if you really stretch the definition. Chester Weir is not graded, since it is a weir. It is not graded at grade II.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Absolutely nothing until Chester Weir. Watch out for the wooden gates across the top of the fish steps, go round them to the right to drop down the steps. The steps are a favourite local play spot. The main weir has a man eating (literally) stopper right across its length at some levels. There is a great surf wave the whole length of the weir as it uncovers from a high tide. It lasts about 10 minutes, then collapses into an open boat swamper.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A flat water cruise, ideal for a day out with the younger members of the club, or anyone who doesn't do moving water. Pleasant drift through Cheshire. I've only done it in an open, but with a group of kayakers. I run it as a first day trip, before they've done any moving water stuff. An excellent view of Iron Bridge (carrying one of the drives into Lord Grosvenor's estate at Eton Hall). There are often anglers about but we have never had any grief.
OTHER NOTES: Banks can be very soft mud, literally knee deep in places. Remember that the Dee has classic stretches of whitewater, upstream near Llangollen.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Adrian J Pullin, Club Coach, Peninsula Canoe Club, Wirral.
A warning to anybody planning on using the weir in Chester: there are some nasty nails/screws sticking up from the wall you slide over at the top to get on to the salmon steps. Wooden planks that used to be there have gone, and the nails are hard to see under the water.
A few of our club's boats were gouged last night, including mine that I'd owned for less than a day :-(
They also look sharp enough to hurt if walking along there in wetsuit shoes.