River Esk

River Esk

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PaddlePoints Waterways focuses on individual bodies of water across the UK. On this page you'll find a map, launches, routes, licensing information, paddle trail downloads, services, and more about one particular river or canal. For the full PaddlePoints with search bar follow this link.

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River Licensing Information

Licence Required?

No licence required

Grade: 2-3 (up to 4 in high water)

Rising in the North Yorkshire moors and flowing east towards the North Sea at Whitby, the River Esk is a 28 mile long river in Yorkshire.

It’s the only river to flow east in Yorkshire. And, interestingly, the only river to not flow into another in Yorkshire before entering the North Sea.

Paddlers often head to a couple of sections on this stretch, with the most popular sections of white water being Houlsyke to Egton Bridge, and Egton Bridge to Sleights.

At Sleights, the river becomes tidal. The grading ranges from grade 2-4 so paddlers should be aware of the river levels and their own experience and skill before heading to the water.

Wildlife on the River Esk

The Esk is home to a variety of wildlife which live in and around the river. These include Atlantic salmon, sea trout, native brown trout, grayling, brook lamprey, sand martins, dippers, kingfishers, water voles, and otters.

It is also the only river in Yorkshire, and one of only seven in England, that contains the fascinating endangered freshwater pearl mussel.

As well as wildlife and splendid views of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, on Ascension Eve at 9am, look out for gatherings of people who meet on the east side of the upper harbour in Whitby.

They are celebrating the planting of Penny Hedge.