WHERE IS IT?: Flows from the Pennines through Rochdale, and then meets the River Irwell in Bury.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: You put in from Roch Valley Way in Rochdale (SD 882124), and take out at the Car Park at the end of Gigg Lane, Bury (SD813 095).


TIME NEEDED: 4 to 5 Hours

ACCESS HASSLES: None. Many questions from walkers as it’s never paddled.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: If it’s rained in the last few days, it’ll go, but if it’s been dry, forget it. Look for a reasonable flow at Roch Valley Way, or see if it’s running when you pass over it at the Bury Junction on the M66,

GRADING: The river itself is a long grade 2, but, the weirs make it wholly unsuitable for beginners/intermediates after Queens Park, Heywood.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Apart from the obvious tree down hazards, it’s the weirs that make this a more serious proposition after Heywood. There are four major drops that demand respect, and it’s imperative to inspect.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Roch begins as a meandering river, with quite steep banks. It starts alongside a Riding Club site on Roch Valley Way in Rochdale.

The first three miles run through wooded valley areas, and pass some old mill type structures, with a few riffles and small wave trains. There’s one small surf wave that holds enough to let paddlers practice. No hazards on this stretch, and it may even make a nice open boat trip.

Upon reaching Queens Park Bridge in Heywood, casual paddlers should look to leave the river. There’s potential to leave at Queens Park, but it’d be a long portage to the car park. If you don’t fancy the carry, go a bit further, past an industrialized old mill area, and look for a large breakout River Right, just after an obvious row of cottages. There’s a car park there, off Bamford Road, Heywood. Be vigilant! There’s a weir about fifty yards after the get out!

This is Fireman’s Weir.Shoot it River Left, the weir has collapsed on the right Hand Side. It’s about 6 or 7 ft high, and just bounces through. Don’t go right, the remains of the weir make it a rock garden.

After, the river runs through wooded and open countryside, until a latticed bridge crosses the main flow.

This is the lead in to Dry Mouth Weir. Shoot this serious weir River Left. It’s about a 15 ft sheer drop, with aerated water and a boily stopper. Below, it runs to a series of small riffles and a brief rocky section, before a wave train takes you right. We had to come back hard river left, as there’s a tree down. 22/01/12.

Inspect from either Left or Right bank, but DO INSPECT!

After a few hundred yards, you reach The Big Easy.

It’s a long slide to aerated water. It goes down the middle, but needs a look to see how big the stoppers are at the bottom. 22/01/12 there was a tree at extreme river left, but nowhere near any line that was runnable. Extreme river right could be a little gnarly, but a look at the weir will clarify matters. Inspection’s not easy, as the bankings are steep and muddy, but break out River Left a way before the drop and have a look.

The river then passes some industrial premises, and a left hand bend leads to the Cheesegrater.

It’s a series of chutes making a weir. As you come around the left hand bend, the flow goes right, and the most runnable chutes will change with water level.

When you’ve decided which looks best, down you go, but, keep to the left hand side of the chute. At the bottom of each, there’s a large concrete block!

The gap on either side is wide enough to take a Kayak without problems, but I doubt if an Open Canoe would fit. There again, if you’ve got this far in an open anyway, you’re SUPERMAN.

Easy water now leads under the M66 Junction at Bury, and another half mile or so takes you to the get out at the car park next to the river at Gigg Lane.

Another mile or two would lead to the Irwell confluence.

Pictures of the Roch.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Andy Rothwell, Geoff Brain, Paul Sherratt.