GUIDE TO STOCK GHYLL
NAME OF RIVER: Stock Ghyll.
WHERE IS IT?: It flows into the Rothay in Ambleside after flowing through the town. It starts in the valley above 'Rock and Run' (why did they get rid of their great cafe?), but below the big waterfalls!
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The beck is easy to find, find the glassblowers on the main road through Ambleside, and follow the beck upstream. I put in below an obvious manmade weir, I've heard the trip described from just below the main waterfalls. I'm not sure if the waterfalls have been run, but if so I expect in lower water. Best take out is before you enter town properly. If you can get under the low bridge in town you can go all the way to the Rothay confluence if you want.
Steve Ed adds (March '00)...'it is suggested you get in below the man made weir, but the section above is a nice one, you can get in below the big 50ft fall and after a 15ft fall (it has been shot several times but is very shallow) below this is a continuous 3/4 up to the weir and a nice tester.'
Robin Allison (Feb 2003)...'Both falls have been done on Stock Ghyll as I shot both for a dare. Not advisable though cos I ended up with two broken ankles, broken coxics and a cracked vertabrae after a really heavy landing (have photographic evidence of shooting the falls and doctors notes of the accident).'
APPROX LENGTH: Several hundred metres.
TIME NEEDED: 30 minutes with inspection.
ACCESS HASSLES: Unknown, but as it is paddled very infrequently probably little.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Needs loads of rain. Comes up and down fairly quickly. Obvious if it has enough to be worthwhile, don't bother if its scrapey, the beck is biologically sensitive.
GRADING: Grade 4 to 5 depending on level.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Two large falls, man made weir, low bridge, trees.
Robin Simpson, Team Blimey (November 2004)...'With the heavy recent rain we went to run Stock Ghyll. Much to our disgust the workmen have dropped scaffolding in the river which has caused nasty strainers. By the looks on the scaffolding in some of the drops, it's been there a long time and isn't going anywhere fast.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Follow the road past 'Rock and Run' heading up Stock Ghyll, the entire section can be inspected from the road above the gorge.
Upstream of the two large falls a path leads off alongside the river and the road diverges, walk along the path.
We put in immediately below an obvious man made weir (about a 2m drop). You can get in further up but it involves a) more carrying, and b) portaging the weir anyway.
From the weir you are immediately on a steep rollercoaster of flumes, significantly steeper than they look from the road. These lead down to two larger falls, each about 1.5 - 2 metres and with only 5 - 10 metres separating them. I can't remember the lines, but it was obvious from the road. If you can't read this river from the road and then run it without further inspection then you shouldn't be on it anyway. Be warned, mess up here and someone is not going to be a happy bunny.
From the falls a series of easier rapids lead into town. It's probably worth getting out before the beck enters town. If you don't, as we didn't, a final fall under an arched bridge leads to a small (no problem) ledge then into a long canalised section. This passes under a low bridge, which would require preinspection to see if you can actually get under.
From here the beck carries on canalised through Rothay Park before a final fall as it empties in the River Rothay. Don't expect to inspect this fall on the way down, I couldn't see any easy way to get out so just ran the fall blind. It runs OK if you want to repeat this! This is described in medium spate, I'm sure everything is harder in higher water.
OTHER NOTES: Short, sweet, steep and exciting. All the rapids squeezed into one short 500m section. Assume you can't get out of the gorge and that rescue will be difficult. No need for a shuttle.
Also, read this report.
John Pinn and Paddy Cave (24th Nov 2004)...'We ran the top drop on Stock Ghyll Force yesterday at medium levels. It went pretty well and the pool at the bottom seemed deep enough! Elbow pads were a good idea as you bounce off the right hand side. Set up safety cover as the bottom drop didn't seem like a good idea! Would be interested to know how Robin Allison broke a load of bones and on what drop?! Has the bottom drop been ran cleanly? See www.kayaking.fotopic.net for photos. Video footage available.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Philip Skinner, also Steve Ed, Robin Allison, Robin Simpson, John Pinn and Paddy Cave.