Friday, December 4, 2009

Canoeing the River Esk North Yorkshire

Monday 1st December.

A clear but frosty morning after a day of continuous rain on the Sunday and it looks like a good day to go for a paddle. I'm soon at Grosmont, several miles upriver from Whitby.
I drop the canoe off next to the bridge, drive back to Sleights where I leave the car and jog the few miles back to the canoe. It takes just over 40 minutes and I put my paddling boots on and a warm fleece as I'll soon cool down.

A paddle of about two hours downriver to Sleights or beyond looks on the cards. The section between here and Sleights is varied paddling through woods and fields and passes under the Esk Valley railway a number of times. It's a quiet paddle and well sheltered. There's plenty to interest paddlers. It's fairly straighforward and is the best section on the river Esk for an open canoe. Between Lealhom and Grosmont there is plenty to interest the keen Kayaker

The put in at the ford in Grosmont. The river has been very high, look at the debris hanging in the tree top right! It looks line fun.

Plenty of grade II makes for an interesting paddle between here and Sleights about two hours paddling away, through a mainly wooded valley and past a few interesting man made structures.

The first one being a fishermans shelter partially built into a cliff. The air temperature is hovering just above freezing and I'm having difficulty keeping my hands warm.

Plenty of small drops, some easier than others but enough to keep you interested. Gravel bars, and twisting turns.

And for those of you old enough to remember, this is the actor Ian Carmichael's house, camera shake notwithstanding - but I was paddling aswell!

My bowman, Jilly, with canoeing & mountaineering experience in Ireland and England. She's fine at the bow but only knows doggy paddle.

Some of the river passes by undercut cliffs but none of this interests her

There's some interesting wildlife to be spotted. These are (I think) otter tracks, we see kingfisher, dipper, a little grebe, several goosander and a pair of red breasted mergansers and numerous grey wagtails. The odd deer scurry away from the bank Jilly jumps ship at one point and dives overboard on seeing a squirrel and chases it along the bank requiring me to go ashore.

A good chance to stretch the legs!

And so the river continues, passing through woods, ravines, twists and turns, the odd island, and here, demonstrating the height the river reached at the weekend by several log jambs

The first take out point is easily noticed by a huge metal bridge (The road to Pickering) replacing one, previously washed away in floods in the 1930s.

And here's the take out point at Sleights Weir. It's an awkward carry out to get to the car park next to the Salmon Leap pub, but you can carry on to Whitby or another take out just before Ruswarp boats, where beyond that is the only other weir which involves a carry over.

I've heard of people paddling over Sleights weir in kayaks, but there is a strong undertow in high conditions and I'd not chance it in any condition!. At extremely high conditions there is only a foot drop but who knows what lies underwater.

In the many years I've lived here I've never seen another paddler on this or any other stretch of the Esk other than below the Dam at Sleights which is heavily used by a couple of local outdoor centres.

And here's the same dam taken Monday 26 November 2012 after heavy rain.  The river level was at 2.88 meters as recorded by the Environment Agency.     __________________


Unknown said...

Useful info. Thanks for this. I may attempt this stretch today

David Perry said...

Let me know how you got on Andy