GUIDE TO THE RIVER DERWENT
(Workington to the Sea)
NAME OF RIVER: River Derwent.
WHERE IS IT?:Lake District. Just above Workington. Map.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: This trip starts at the weirs. About 2 miles upstream from Workington town centre. Park right by the weir.
APPROX LENGTH: 2 miles?
TIME NEEDED: 30 minutes if not playing.
ACCESS HASSLES: OK outside fishing season. Not OK during Fishing Season. But please be sensible. The river baliff and his heavies have been called by fishermen on us before.
John Crosbie (2006)...
'Delicate access situation with Baliffs being called in to arrest paddlers in the past. We now have an agreement which is date and water level dependant. For the future of paddling this river it is essential that we adhere to this agreement.
1st November to 31st January. Canoeing permitted providing water above red lines on gauges.
1 February to 31 May. As above, however, Bassenthwaite Lake to Isel Bridge closed (for nature conservation purposes.
1 June to 31 October river closed to paddlers except by special permission (and this is likely only to be given in June and July).
Groups of more than 10 people and Outdoor Centres are requested to avoid this river between Bassenthwaite and Cockermouth due to the sensitive wildlife and access issues.
Leaders of groups and individuals should ensure that:
- Each person is sufficiently trained to make a reasonably trouble free passage.
- Straight through, quiet passage is requested.
- Landing other than at the agreed sites should only be necessary in the case of an emergency
- Groups should be sufficiently well equipped to deal with any emergencies that may arise.
Wildlife - This river is designated under European legislation as a candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) for sea, river, brook lamprey, salmon, otters, marsh fritillary (butterfly) and luronium natans (floating water plantain) and as well as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Canoeists must take care and make as little disturbance as possible to the wildlife and habitats present.
Consideration should also be made to wintering wildfowl, such as goldeneye, found on the river and banks in the upper reaches, between Bassenthwaite and Isel Bridge. These can be found in large numbers
(300+) during the months of January, February and in particular March and are important bird species. This is the reason there is no access 1st February to 31st May. Extra care should be taken at all other times.'
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: River does hold levels well as it is lake fed via Derwent Water, Bass, Buttermere, Crummock etc.
GRADING: Grade 1-2.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS:
Mike (Jan 2004)...'Top weir has a nasty fish ladder in the middle, but rest of the weir seems OK.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: When you have finished playing on the weir, paddle down the Derwent through the harbour and past the life boat pier. Get the tide right and it will be a quick paddle down one or two grade 1/2 rapids and then you're into a tidal race of sorts at the end of the harbour. Finish under the wind turbines on the north side of the harbour mouth and surf on the beach.
OTHER NOTES: This trip is really an extension to a play on the Workington Weirs.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mikeybaby, also John Crosbie.
Quote:"..... the very last bridge (pedestrian footbridge / redundant railway) as the Derwent enters Workington harbour is absolutely chock full of submerged obstructions (as well as the ones that are above river level at low tide and hence visible).
As you may have seen reported (highly selectively reported I might add) in local papers, one of our group had a very lucky escape from an entrapment yesterday afternoon. My suggestion is not to consider paddling under the bridge unless a thorough inspection has first been carried out from well above river level and at a much lower state of the tide than that at which it is intended to paddle. Three of four canoes were "tripped up" by unseen underwater objects. Because of the way the river courses at lower states of the tide, the nature of the river changes very suddenly from slow, scrapping-the-bottom shallow to a powerful, fast flowing turbulent stream immediately upstream of the bridge with virtually no eddies that more than one canoe might make. This change in character is not at all obvious from river level until it is too late to hit this eddy. The RNLI Ops Manager told us afterwards that there are some real horrors underwater across the full width of the river on the upstream face of the bridge stanchions; we were very lucky!