GUIDE TO THE RIVER RAWTHEY
NAME OF RIVER: Rawthey.
WHERE IS IT?: Cumbria, flows round Sedbergh into the River Lune.
PUT INS/ TAKE OUTS: Put in off A683 just below Rawthey bridge, take out at Straight bridge on A683, or continue down to the River Lune confluence.
Nick Mortimer (Feb 2004)...'Rather than split journey at Straight Bridge where A683 crosses Rawthey river, there is an excellent beach and large layby at Hawes bridge where A684 crosses Rawthey. I have always found Straight Bridge an inconvenient place to get out. Besides as you continue for 1 Km, you pass bottom of Clough, and can check out level.'
APPROX LENGTH: 8 K to Straight bridge, 14 K for the full trip.
TIME NEEDED: Approx 1.5 hours short trip or 2.5 hours to the Lune.
ACCESS HASSLES: Fisherman don't fish between November 1st and March 31 st. No formal agreement.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: A bit of recent rain is required to bring this river up. Inspection from the A683 towards the get in will indicate if there is enough to float. Low levels can provide a worthwhile technical paddle down to Straight bridge, however at high water this river provides fantastic roller coaster ride all the way to the River Lune with constant grade 3/4 water.
GRADING: Grade 3 and 4.
Nick Mortimer (Feb 2004)...'Just been for walk beside Rawthey river to check out reported obstruction. Barely a trickle but lovely day. Man made obstruction, where Cautley Spout beck enters river, has been flattened by recent floods. It is now a pile of debris in middle of river bed. With necessary water for paddling this debris is easily passed on either side. This structure was presumably to keep nearby horses from straying downstream, from this open land. Tree on Loup Falls has been washed further downstream. Wonder where it will appear? The barrier across river may get rebuilt to resist horses, as the nearby farm has diversified into Equestrian, as sign says, and is keeping their horses on the open land surrounding this part of river. But probably not until Summer.'
Mike Millington (11/1/04)...'Further to Ian Pudges update of 26/11/03 paddled this on Saturday 10th Jan' at a paddleable low level. We managed to sneak under the fence at Cautley but any higher flows a portage on the right would be an absolute necessity. The main incident happened at Loup falls where the tree continues to block the main route on river right. River left does not really offer an option as the water goes straight onto a rock face so the best paddleable option is to rattle down somewhere over the middle. This was our decision however the force of the water on the 2nd drop sent my friends boat vertical by the time he'd recovered it he was committed to run the tree blocked route. As his life passed before me, he managed to squeeze between the rock face the first vertical branch more by luck than judgement he made it through out without too much problem (apart from being covered in mud bark from the bank tree losing his paddle!). If in doubt portage (no mean feat in itself) or break out in the pool on river right above the 2nd drop boof it from the eddy aiming for the left bank thus setting yourself up for a middle route. Don't follow the flow hope you can turn in time. This was our plan we nearly had major regrets over it! The tree in the conglomerate gorge is still there even at this low level was a "pain" to negotiate.'
Diane Cook, Deva Canoe Club, Chester (10/1/04)...'Paddled River Rawthey on 27/12/03:
FIRST TREE HAZARD, after Loop falls and before the gorge. Just after long flat bit, get to an S bend, with grassy banks river right and trees lining banks. The main shoot at the end of a series of small drops is now partially obstructed by a hanging tree, it looks ok from the bank but worse from the bottom. Avoidable by taking chicken shoot on left.
SECOND TREE HAZARD in Gorge. Tree fallen lengthways down narrow gorge section, at medium water we got past it with some yoga/ tree hugging, not possible to portage unless you've got climbing gear!'
Ian Pudge (26/11/03)...'There's now a fence right across the river after the flat braided section by Cautley Beck, a large tree blocking the right hand line on Loup Falls, and still a tree in the onglomerate gorge, but you can sneak this .'
Nigel Cooper (November 2002)...'Paddled it on 27/10/02. At medium flow. The bad weather has brought down a tree into the conglomerate gorge just before the Hebblethwaite Ghyll entry. It's quite narrow and steep sided, reasonably quick flow but no rapids. You can break out just before the strainer but getting out the cliff sides would be a real pain. We managed to thrash/ hack our way through the jammed branches on river left without much incidence. It may be worse in higher flows.'
Clive (2 rolls, a swim and a pin) Williams...' paddled it on the 2/11/2002, fairly low level but interesting paddle. HAZARD about 300 yards above Straight Bridge; in the steep sided gorge it is completely blocked by fallen trees.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: In the first 2 km there are a constant series of small rapids and drops, which in low water provide an interesting technical trip, in high water will leave you little time to worry about the G4`s to come! Indeed in high water, one of these small drops, 0.5km in, resulted in three experienced paddlers being upside down altogether in the small drop.
At 2.5 km after a tight bend is Loup falls, best inspected river left. At low water this is an interesting three tier technical fall. In spate this becomes a continuous spectacular grade 4+ rapid requiring careful inspection and plenty of bottle.
Easier but interesting water for the next 2.5 km leads to the Rawthey gorge section lasting approx 1km. Again, at low levels this consists of a series of technical drops culminating in a interesting twisty tight slot which is best inspected river right. At spate levels this twisty tight slot fills up forming a nasty looking water feature at its base that is difficult to protect from the bank. If you spot this in time and can get out you may wish to portage this in spate conditions.
Straight bridge shortly comes into view, probably it's best to get out here in low water. At high levels if you still have some energy, the next 6 km provides exciting bigger water paddling as the river changes character with play waves, haystacks, two weirs, and constant interest! Railway falls, grade 4, can be seen after passing under a railway viaduct. This two tier rapid can be inspected river left, choose your own line. In big water the hole in the middle of the second drop has been known to eat Microbats!
The best is now over, the confluence with the River Lune is not far at which point you will arrive exhausted and exhilarated in high water.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Bob Evans, also Nigel Cooper, Ian Pudge, Mike Millington, Nick Mortimer, Diane Cook and Clive Williams.