GUIDE TO THE RIVER GELT
NAME OF RIVER: Gelt
WHERE IS IT?: Just outside Brampton, off the A69 on the way to Hexham and Newcastle.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: When I paddled this river in September we put in just upstream of the Gelt Pool, which can be accessed by parking at Jockey Shield, Castle Carrock (NY 557 555) and walking downhill along the rough track, which crosses the river at Hynam Bridge. Turn right and head along the river bank until you reach the obvious drop and pool.
According to Stuart Millers guidebook, White Water Lake District, you can put in higher up at Binney Bank, but when we tried this we came across a fair few Private Road signs so we were reluctant to head any further up the valley.
The take out is at Low Gelt Bridge (NY 520 592) where there is ample parking on the river right bank on the upstream side of the bridge. Low Gelt Bridge can either be reached by heading back towards Carlisle, along the A69, and taking the first right turning, after negotiating the round-about too the west of Brampton, or by heading through Castle Carrock and Hayton along some really confusing country roads.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 miles from the Gelt Pool.
ACCESS HASSLES: We had no problem with access. The Gelt Pool is in open access land and along the vast majority of the river there is a footpath either on the left or right bank.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs rain. Luckily there is a gauge on the downstream side of Hynam Bridge as there is a weir here. We paddled the river on a 1.9, but in Stuart Millers guidebook it states that it should be above 0.9 for a good level.
GRADING: 3/4 (V)
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees and the grade V rapid under the road bridge at NY 542 562. This rapid should be portaged on the left along some sandstone slabs, and a nice seal launch sees you back safely into the river. The rapid is full of siphons and undercuts and if you make your way through these safely there is then a tree blocking the majority of the channel. There was a lucky escape from this rapid back in 2007. Read what happened here.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The river has three distinct sections. The first section begins at the Gelt Pool and runs down to the grade V rapid under the first road bridge. There is a lovely set of falls in this section, which starts with the measuring weir at Hynam Bridge. It is worth checking these out before you get on the river.
The second section meanders through open farmland and has little interest. However we had to portage around one tree blockage and there were a few other blockages, which were a bit touch and go.
The last section finishes at Low Gelt Bridge and here trees can be a major hazard as there is little chance of escape from the sandstone gorge. However if the channel is clear you are in for a fun roller coaster ride. The guidebook recommends that you walk up from Low Gelt Bridge to check that this section is clear of trees. We didnt and we got lucky as the trees, which were in the channel were running parallel with the flow and we could grind down them. If this wasnt the case it could have been a different story.
OTHER NOTES: If the river isnt up when you arrive perhaps head upstream from the Gelt Pool and have a little boulder on the quartzite boulder, which appeared in a European Climbing Guide once upon a time, or even take a swim in the Gelt Pool, which is a popular local swimming hole.
Combining this river with the middle section of the Irthing provides a good days paddling.
The Gelt appears on page 41 of Stuart Millers infamous White Water Lake District guidebook.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Iain Rockrat Robinson