The Swale, for many the most enjoyable, hassle free section of Class 4 (occasionally 5) in the UK. It’s all down to preference of course, however, a little time invested in this true classic normally leaves paddlers with a beaming smile.
At its source, about 2 miles upstream of Keld, the Swale picks up pace and, set amongst some stunning scenery and isolated gorges, this river drops like a stone and often rises just as quickly: we recently witnessed the river rising 50cm within the hour it took us to complete the run. It rose a further 10cm in the time it took to get changed and do a shuttle; a factor that should be borne in mind when paddling this stretch after heavy rainfall. Potentially difficult to judge accurately, running this little gem has been made much more reliable since the introduction of the environment agency river levels gauge. This provides the source data for the invaluable Rainchasers site (http://rainchasers.com/river): an excellent information resource for which we are enormously grateful to Rob Tuley and crew supporting the site.