GUIDE TO THE RIVER DERWENT
(Seathwaite to Derwentwater)
NAME OF RIVER: Derwent.
WHERE IS IT?: Borrowdale, Lake District. Map.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: At a very high level access at Mountain View (NY250137) or even Seathwaite (ask permission at the farm).
At a high level access on Stonethwaite Beck at Rosthwaite Bridge (NY257151).
Access is usually possible at Grange Bridge (NY254174) and near the Bowderstone (parking at Bowderstone car park), in summer this area is often congested.
Access at Hollows Farm campsite for residents.
Kettlewell car park on Derwentwater ( NY267195) is a useful point of egress (avoid parking trailers here as in the past this has led to the erection of a height barrier).
APPROX LENGTH: 8 km from Mountain View to Derwentwater.
TIME NEEDED: Unknown.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs rain.
GRADING: Grade 2.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees, possibly fences.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: There is a grade II+ rapid by the Longthwaite Youth Hostel.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Steve Lenartowicz.
We were limited on this trip by one vehicle, 2 people and 1 OC so we were lkooking for a simple bus shuttle. This was a very straightforward 1 vehicle trip.
Access was checked with the River Advisor as there are a few different versions of the access agreement online. There were no restrictions at this time of year. This was a simple e-mail and there is no excuse for not checking.
Shame there is not more information about this trip online as it is one of the nicest bits of river i've ever paddled a canoe on.
Dropped the boat and girlfriend off at Longthwaite YHA car park by the bridge. We work for the YHA but you'd want to ask if it is okay. They won't say no.
Then drove van to Kettlewell car park on the side of Derwent Water. I then walked 10 minutes back down the road/footpath toward the big hotel and the bus stop. Another very short bus ride to the YHA drive and a couple of minutes walk to the car park.
On the drive down we stopped at Grange by the church and checked the water level under the bridge. There was a single deeper channel on the right hand side looking towards the lake. The water was probably only calves deep at the bridge and a little shallower just down from here. It looked like we could float down okay and as we were practicing poling this was no problem. In hind sight you'd probably want a good knee depth flow under the bridge to really enjoy the trip as a minimum level.
At the YHA get on we could just about float, unfortunatley just downstream we found the shallowest part of the trip. I poled down this and a number of other shallow rapids and the only place we got stuck was the stepping stones, which would have probably required another foot of water to clear.
Every time a stream or river entered the depth increased and soon the pole was packed away and proper paddling was needed. The water was deep and a number of fun shingle rapids added spice to the trip. You could float down all the rapids without any real effort but there was a 'line' to most and a few with currents that would slam you into the bank. The junction with Stonethwaite Beck produced a nice wave which we used to play around in for a while.
Mind the low stone bridges in high water!
The section with the road on the right was the nicest, woods all around and plenty of easy rapids. We pulled in for lunch just upstream of he best rapid - a good tongue to shoot with some rocks to dodge. Excellent ferry glide practice spot. Soon we were at campsite on river left and the trees slowly receeded and we found ourselves in the flat meandering swan song of the river. A while later we were at the end of the Upper Derwent although it felt longer with a head wind and driving snow!
A quick look about quickly confirmed that we could paddle no further due to the ice on the lake and we headed across to the car park. Getting out was a simple matter of pulling up on the beach and carrying the 10 metres to the van. Warning, strong winds would make the last section across open water difficult with inexperienced paddlers.
Time taken to paddle: 3 hours with short lunch
Time to do shuttle: 30 mins if you check bus times first
I cannot emphasise how beautiful and scerene this trip is, one of my all time favourites despite the low water. A great beginners trip that could be as long as required with the lake at the end. You could even head to Keswick or on down the Middle Derwent.