The stretch of the Tees from Egglestone to Cotherstone is know as the racing stretch due to its use as a ww racing venue. Access at Eggleston Bridge has been dodgy for some years so you are better off heading up stream to put on at Middleton. The outdoor centre at Middleton is a pefect place to get on, it can found just outside of town on the road to High Force. As you leave town you’ll go over a stone bridge which has a tight left hand turn. As you head up the bank you’ll see some new houses on the left. The outdoor centre lies just beyond the houses. Don’t park in front of the house, just call into the outdoor centre and ask if it is OK to leave your car. 9 times out of 10 it will be OK. From the Outdoor centre a short 200m walk down a narrow footpath takes you right down to the river. Alternatively park in town and walk down to the river.
The first stretch down to the start of the racing stretch is a grade II/III with easy lines. From Egglestone bridge the water is pushed right and the river narrows (grade II). This is the 1st of many rapids on the stretch. Plenty of waves, and a few holes can be found on this stretch leading down to Cotherstone. Rapids are evenly spread with the majority being fairly long and of grade III. At times the river can feel dark and remote as the river walls and tree lined bank rise above you. Meeting fishermen and other paddlers is rare.
Lines are obvious throughout and inspection possible in most cases. At high water levels the river is extremely fast and eddies are few and far between. Many of the rapids become big and bouncy and all stoppers can be escaped with ease.
As you approach Cotherstone you’ll pass a green iron footbridge just before the River Balder comes in from the right. Beyond this get out at a beach river right. Follow the track to the playing fields (where cars can be left) or carry up the steep bank, back to the main part of the village.
Below Cotherstone the river flattens out. At high levels its worth a run since it requires little effort. However the man made weir at Barnard Castle is a killer, the towback is fierce! The weir has an anti scouring construction and has resulted in one paddler loosing an ear. He was lucky to pulled out alive. Portage can be made river left.
The weir at Barnard Castle is undergoing some serious construction work. Portage is most definitely advisable.