GUIDE TO THE RIVER ETHEROW

NAME OF RIVER: Etherow

WHERE IS IT?: Peak District, a small spate river flowing into the East end of Woodhead Reservoir, running west alongside the A628. Easily accessible from Manchester.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: There is easy access from the A628 at the road bridge at Salters Brook (SE137002, Multimap). Park in a layby just before the bridge. It looks as though there is some good paddling if you walk up stream from here, but be wary of fences across the river.

Take out above a 6 foot weir a little way above Woodhead reservoir. There is a small road leading down to a good parking spot here just off the A628.

APPROX LENGTH: About 3km.

TIME NEEDED: Not long, once on the river theres no hanging about, about 30mins.

ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown. It only runs when very wet, the likelihood of anyone being around anyway is slim.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It needs to have been raining for a few days and still be raining as you put on. If the tributaries flowing off the hills to the South are looking full thats a good sign. There is a (broken) gauge at the weir at the take out, we got on when it read approximately 4, by the time we got off it read just under 7 this was a good level.

GRADING: Continuous 3/4. The continuous nature of the river makes it more demanding than the grade would suggest. Not a river to take a swim on.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The weir at the take out appears to have various bits of debris in it but can be shot river right. A little way below this there is a very low road bridge make sure you get out above this.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The river starts as a narrow fast stream of no more than grade 3 and swiftly picks up in volume and intensity as a number of tributaries join on the river left. The middle section is steep and fast with some tight turns. Eddies are few and rarely big enough for more than one boat. At the weir take out River left and follow the footpath along the river and over the bridge to the parking spot. The Black Clough which enters river left a little way above the get out is accessible by footpath and looks as if it will provide similar spate entertainment.

OTHER NOTES: A great little run just outside of Manchester, perfect for those wet afternoons when you can get off work early. If the Etherow is at a good level and you fancy something thats more of a challenge then it may also be worth taking a look at Hayden Brook which flows into Woodhead Reservoir from the North.

Pictures of the Etherow

CONTRIBUTED BY: David Fairweather


Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: RIVER ETHEROW -- DavePerry
2012 Jul 06 11:04:53 PM
Sorry this removed all of my paragraphs, below again][/list]Just paddled this today at 8 on the gauge at the weir above the get-off. There was indeed a steel sheep-gate at the get-in so we launched below this. We are both competent UK and alpine G4 paddlers who dabble in a bit of G5 when pushing a little.
The upper section began very sedately but rapidly descended into a very constricted, twisting, tight and continuous G4 section at this water level. The sheer continuity coupled with the extremely short sight-lines, (often only a metre or two ahead) made this 400-500m section quite committing - extremely few eddies and those that were Burn-sized were often sighted too late for a breather. One larger hole to watch out for around half way down was fairly sticky. Couple of sections where the lines avoiding pour-overs took a course very close to jagged slate at arm and elbow height. Still, some extremely satisfying lines for the technical and confident paddler here but would be intimidating and result in a very long and painful swim if at all unsure. I would strongly advise at this water level (8 on gauge) only boaters with proven solid G4 read-and-run ability tackle this section, rescues here would be challenging.
The river eases slightly after a further few rapids, allowing some eddies to be made for the next 500-700m. We hopped out and inspected the next section again - we had already done so from above on river left where the A628 runs (however like Inn Shoot in Austria and Chateaux Queyras in France, this gives a falsely small scale and gradient to the rapids!). We were still surprised by the steepness of the gradient in the second gorge, however the river straightens, the drops are further apart and have far larger and deeper eddies which are easily made. A 3m long rock shelf/slide half way down this section warns of the largest hole. The water level was dropping as we ran this section (the rain ceased and we had blue sky!) and I'd probably grade it around 3, but bear in mind if you're paddling when it's still on the rise and raining hard then this will obviously be more continuous like the earlier section.
The river eases towards the bottom of the gorge, as the sides start to drop away large boulders become visible on the right bank, the Black Clough joins from river left and a large undercut becomes visible on river right, a three-to-four boat eddy on river left is the best egress with a good 80m safety margin before the weir.
Weir contained lots of debris on 06/07/12 from river left to centre, right looked like a nice line if you made it. Wouldn't fancy the closed hole if not, or the complete lack of clearance on the bridge 100m downstream. Fences mentioned above were not visible, though there were at least two sections of fence which appeared to come into the river then disappear, possibly in lower levels these may be an issue, though clearly if present below the water line these present a serious swim hazard.
Inspected the Black Clough, looks like a very challenging run at this water level, be good for full-face, elbow-pad bearing enjoyment for 1km or so, a few strainers, very continuous - above my grade!
In conclusion a truly fantastic and inspiring piece of the very best class of English white water. This is the "bouldery grade 4 slalom course" (alps guidebook) the loisach in Austria promises but never delivers!Thanks very much to Dave Fairweather for the guide above, without it we'd have missed out on this elusive classic.[/list]
Re: RIVER ETHEROW -- DavePerry
2012 Jul 06 10:58:40 PM
Just paddled this today at 8 on the gauge at the weir above the get-off. There was indeed a steel sheep-gate at the get-in so we launched below this. We are both competent UK and alpine G4 paddlers who dabble in a bit of G5 when pushing a little.The upper section began very sedately but rapidly descended into a very constricted, twisting, tight and continuous G4 section at this water level. The sheer continuity coupled with the extremely short sight-lines, (often only a metre or two ahead) made this 400-500m section quite committing - extremely few eddies and those that were Burn-sized were often sighted too late for a breather. One larger hole to watch out for around half way down was fairly sticky. Couple of sections where the lines avoiding pour-overs took a course very close to jagged slate at arm and elbow height. Still, some extremely satisfying lines for the technical and confident paddler here but would be intimidating and result in a very long and painful swim if at all unsure. I would strongly advise at this water level (8 on gauge) only boaters with proven solid G4 read-and-run ability tackle this section, rescues here would be challenging.The river eases slightly after a further few rapids, allowing some eddies to be made for the next 500-700m. We hopped out and inspected the next section again - we had already done so from above on river left where the A628 runs (however like Inn Shoot in Austria and Chateaux Queyras in France, this gives a falsely small scale and gradient to the rapids!). We were still surprised by the steepness of the gradient in the second gorge, however the river straightens, the drops are further apart and have far larger and deeper eddies which are easily made. A 3m long rock shelf/slide half way down this section warns of the largest hole. The water level was dropping as we ran this section (the rain ceased and we had blue sky!) and I'd probably grade it around 3 , but bear in mind if you're paddling when it's still on the rise and raining hard then this will obviously be more continuous like the earlier section. The river eases towards the bottom of the gorge, as the sides start to drop away large boulders become visible on the right bank, the Black Clough joins from river left and a large undercut becomes visible on river right, a three-to-four boat eddy on river left is the best egress with a good 80m safety margin before the weir. Weir contained lots of debris on 06/07/12 from river left to centre, right looked like a nice line if you made it. Wouldn't fancy the closed hole if not, or the complete lack of clearance on the bridge 100m downstream. Fences mentioned above were not visible, though there were at least two sections of fence which appeared to come into the river then disappear, possibly in lower levels these may be an issue, though clearly if present below the water line these present a serious swim hazard.Inspected the Black Clough, looks like a very challenging run at this water level, be good for full-face, elbow-pad bearing enjoyment for 1km or so, a few strainers, very continuous - above my grade!In conclusion a truly fantastic and inspiring piece of the very best class of English white water. This is the "bouldery grade 4 slalom course" (alps guidebook) the loisach in Austria promises but never delivers! Thanks very much to Dave Fairweather for the guide above, without it we'd have missed out on this elusive classic.
River Etherow -- bigbadbob12345
2012 Apr 09 09:02:46 AM
Went scouting on Saturday and walked the whole section described in the guide- also in the English white water guide book.

Ther was a broken stock fence laying very close to the water line about half way up which I dragged as far up the bank as possible- out of harms way. About 250m above this there is a 6" thick log spanning the river that has some kind of trap mounted on it- this could be nasty as unless the river is bank full and you bump over it, it would be quite difficult to portage.

In the first gorge section ( if coming downstream ) I removed an old stock fence that was pinned and wrapped around the large rocks in the centre of the river.

There were two more logs with traps on the top half of the river that again if bank full would be passable, these are on the narrow section and to portage may still be very difficult due to the fast flow and no break outs.
Login to reply