The River Tweed in November
I'm back on the blogg again, sorry for the long absence. A combination of lack of drive to write, idleness, canoeing (the best excuse) and a busy life has kept me away from the keyboard.
But here is another adventure with:
The Wobbly Water Group set out to paddle the River Tweed in early November 2011.
The final count of paddlers was the “Intrepid 7” with our three lovely ladies, Lou, Lyndsey and Lynne. The four grizzly males were Chris B, Chris H, Doug and Graham.
The initial planning was vague and fraught but finally we had sorted the where from and to, when and how many days. Although there was a bit of a battle over how many days, with one of our party playing the G&G card.
The day came; Chris H, Graham and the three L’s had travelled up on the previous night and bivvied out near the start point.
Chris B and I chose the early start and arrived about 9.30 in the morning.
Well, we all dropped our gear on the riverbank at Peebles and commenced the shuttle but only to that evening’s camp location. Sometime later, we set off. The salmon were jumping in great numbers and some big-uns too.
The start at Peebles.
Unfortunately we hadn’t realised that the salmon season on the Tweed is quite different to England. It had only just started!
We passed many anglers on our way but only two grumpy folk. The majority were chatty and joking with us.
On one stretch a large salmon leapt out of the water only 3 or 4 feet away, this was my first wetting from the hefty splash it made.
The wows! At the spectacular salmon leaps continued for the rest of the trip. Graham being one of the fishy folk, estimated some of the fish to about the 30lb size.
The river is quite scenic and the autumn colours added to the beauty.
As we approached our camping spot the rain started and although only a shower it was heavy, cold and very wet.
Our first night was damp from the thick mist that swept in overnight and froze by the morning.
In the evening the drivers completed the shuttle, with all the cars left at Berwick on Tweed and a taxi back. Of course the drivers treated themselves to a slap up Chinese feast. Lou and I had a camp ration of some kind (I don’t remember what). But we washed it down with a liqueur that Lou had with her.
Inside my tarp the condensation was dripping and I tried to avoid getting my sleeping bag wet.
We awakened to clear skies and the promise of a brilliant day.
Lyndsey ready to go.
Ashiesteel Bridge, sometimes called Low Peel Bridge, crossing the River Tweed, was built in 1847. Constructed of whinstone rubble, its span is 132 ft, while it measures 203 ft in length, including the approaches, by 18 ft 10 ins in overall breadth. The structure was repaired in 1952. It is understood that the bridge collapsed once during its original construction, before the arch was completed.
The mist could not decide to go.
Yair Bridge, of three arches, carries the Edinburgh to Selkirk road over the River Tweed. The date of its construction is not recorded, but as the Act for the road was passed in 1764 it is reasonable to assume that the bridge dates from this time or perhaps a few years earlier. The masonry is random rubble, apart from the bases of the piers and abutments, which are block in course. The total span is 146 ft and the span of each arch 42 ft, the head- way over the river being 22 ft. The width between the parapets is 13 ft 9 ins; there is no footway, but a refuge is provided on either side over each pier.
Lou and Chris H getting their first splash.
Now riding low in the water.
Tea break. I’ll bet you were wondering how long do these people go without a break. Well, the answer is. Not very long. Just not recorded our ever so common event.
Bridge, Lindean, mid 19th century. A handsome 3-span bridge, with dressed-stone arch rings, and rubble spandrels and wing walls. The two main spans are elliptical-arched, and there is a smaller semi-circular flood arch.
Lyndsey and Chris B
Lunch near Gattonside Suspension Footbridge, Melrose. We portaged the Melrose Cauld it looked very boney.
Suspension bridge, built 1826. A footbridge, with iron-link suspension chains, a wooden deck, and Gothis stone pylons. The vertical suspenders are iron rods, and there are light iron railings.
J R Hume 1976.
Leaderfoot Viaduct an impressive bridge.
This is a nineteen span, single track railway viaduct, with semi-circular brick arches. It has piers and spandrels of dressed red sandtsone which are roughly coursed with snecks. The outer face of the masonry is very uneven.
Sunset day 2
We managed to have a very small campfire but Graham was warned that my axe is sharp he had a few minor cuts before long.
A poplar had been felled, too recently, it is the most fire resistant wood we have ever tried to burn. Dead wood from the nearby wood
save the night.
The standing poplars were perfectly spaced for hammocks, four of us used hammocks.
A cold misty night with a hard frost left those in tents requiring help to unzip the doors.
But the promise of another glorious day.
Sunrise day 3
Graham planned to complete the trip today and he set off alone to reach Berwick. We wished him well and take care.
The frosty scrolls on the upturned hull.
Heron on a boulderclay spire.
Lou and Chris H
Mertoun Bridge (NT63SW 61) and tollhouse (NT63SW 62), built 1837, engineer James Slight, Edinburgh. A 5-span bridge, built entirely of dressed stone, with flat segmental arches on slender piers with rounded cutwaters.
Below Rutherford Weir
Below Rutherford Weir
Lou and Chris on the Upper Makerstoun rapid
Lou and Chris on the Upper Makerstoun rapid
The bit I tried sideways. Not deliberately!!!
A 16ft boat does not fit through a 15ft gap!!!!
After many suggestions of jump out and swim. The bank support team realised that as long as I stayed relatively dry and the canoe didn’t get damaged. The captain was staying in command of his ship.
Valiant efforts from my bank support team managed to dislodge the stern and I negotiated the last bit partially swamped and backwards.
Floors Castle near Kelso
A few miles downstream of Kelso we found our way through the big weir using the left side with a quick turn right and through the middle channel. We decided to camp on the middle island, where there was plenty of driftwood for a warming fire.
We awoke to the distant sounds of a large flock of whooper swans on the river, and we were surrounded by hundreds of fieldfares in the trees and bushes. All Scandinavian refugees from the arctic winter.
Coldstream Bridge and Tollhouse, built 1763-7, engineer John Smeaton, widened 1962. A seven-span bridge with dressed-stone arch rings and rubble spandrels, which are pierced between the main piers by flood relief holes, now blocked. The five main segmental spans are flanked by single semicircular flood arches and there is a dentilated cornice.
The right hand arch leads into a safe shute.
Elevenses on our last day
Whooper Swans probably freshly arrived from Scandinavia.
Ladykirk by the Tweed
Lunch stop Blount Island R Tweed
Hutton Union Bridge
Union Suspension Bridge, built 1820 (by engineer Captain S Brown) and strengthened 1902-3 (by engineer J A Bean). The first large suspension bridge in Britain. There are three sets of iron link chains on each side, each consisting of pairs of links, with iron-rod suspenders to a light wood-truss deck. The pylons are monumental in design, of dressed stone. Unusually, the pylon on the S side is set back from the end of the truss, into a hillside. The 1902-3 strengthening consisted of adding a wire-rope cable on each side, with wire-rope suspenders to steel reinforcement at the sides of the original dec. There is a light wrought-iron railing of attractive design.
Lynne on the Tweed.
Lou and Chris H on the tidal Tweed
Royal Border Bridge, rail viaduct Berwick
Lyndsey and Chris B
Chris H and Lou
Four days paddling for the journey from Peebles to Berwick upon Tweed.
It was a great trip on a beautiful river in fantastic weather, cold and clear. Moody misty mornings with frost created gorgeous images.
Good friends all enjoying what we love to do in great company.
Graham finished safely the day before us, just so he could rush back to work.
We finished off our trip with a meal in a Berwick restaurant, good, simple, tasty and filling food before we drove home.
We left the Tweed with memories of a great trip with good friends, fine weather, autumn colours and just the right mix of lumpy stuff.
The Tweed may not be the most exciting river we have done but we all enjoyed it and its beauty. It was great to be treated with respect and friendship by the anglers, although they were usually fishing where we wanted to paddle, but we took to the slower water or even through eddies.
We saw salmon being caught, we were asked to herd them towards towards those that were not catching. We were offered swaps because the anglers said that canoeing looked more fun.
Well worth doing.