GUIDE TO THE RIVER DUDDON
(Birk's Bridge to Seathwaite)
WHERE IS IT?: South West lakes in Dunnerdale.
APPROX LENGTH: 4 miles to Long House Gill.
TIME NEEDED: 1.5 hours or more.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It needs heavy rain. There is an online EA gauge at Ulpha, for this section, calibrations are roughly - Low: 0.80m, Medium 1.00m, High 1.20m (less needed for the section below).
GRADING: Grade 3 to 5.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS:
1. Narrow slot above Birks Bridge grade 5.
2. Troutal farm falls grade 5+ ( most will portage) .
3. Wallowbarrow Gorge grade 4 and 5.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This river has a good reputation which is well justified. Heavy rain is needed to make it paddleable, in spate conditions it is fast and furious. Many will get in below Birks Bridge via a good seal launch, the grade 5 slot immediately above is not very inviting without a warm up. The small gorge has numerous siphons and potholes forming a major hazard. Do you feel lucky?
A few twists, turns and small drops lead to Troutal Farm falls, a nasty grade 5+ most will portage. It is unrunnable in low water levels anyway, as most of the flow sumps under rocks. Get out river left on a right hand bend to inspect when a large 'forked' crag on the left is visible, don't miss it!. 2 -3 k of twisty, bouldery grade 3 and 4 follow which can be run without prior inspection in low-med water and would probably be hard to stop on in spate.
A huge boulder in the middle of the river marks the start of Wallowbarrow Gorge, a grade 4 and 5 section which gets progressively harder. At low to medium levels it consists of a series of small drops between and around large boulders with numerous pin opportunities, although bank/ or "boulder support" is readily set up. The final drop has boulders at the base which tends to trip and punish the challenger. In high water the gaps will fill in, although inspection and care are required. A short section of easier water leads to the confluence with Long House Gill and the lower section described elsewhere in this guide.
OTHER NOTES: It's well worth carrying on down to the sea using the lower Duddon.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Bob Evans and Mark Rainsley.