Updated: Aug 13, 2022
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This is a leisurely 2.6km round trip from the jetty in Morpeth. For this trip we used the Aqua Marina Rapid - a 9' 6" riverboard, and the McConks Go Anywhere 10' 6" - an all-round board. River fins are advised over a standard fin as the water gets quite shallow around the Oldgate Bridge.
There are lots of options for parking that have more than enough time for this trip near the Jetty. All the parking in Morpeth is Disk parking, they are available at the 'Disk Here' location, or at the town hall. Heading west upstream, the river takes a large turn to the right, until you are heading North. Keep to the right on the water and be especially wary of the rowers! On the left side there is a sign for the rowing boats telling them to turn around, watch out! The river gets quite shallow so stay in the middle channel until you go under the Oldgate Bridge. From the Bridge you are about 150m from the stepping stones but we only made it 50m to the end of the island.
Choose your route carefully if you go through the island as birds nest here most of the year. There is a footpath along the left side of the river that we used, getting back in upstream of the stepping stones. This section was very shallow, even the Rapid was grounded until at least 25m up from the stones. From here the river sweeps left until you pass under the footbridge called Skinnery Bridge. This section is usually very quiet although 1 or 2 houses have private jetties so it is best to keep to the right of the channel. On the riverside besides Skinnery Bridge there is a working Sewer Gas Lamp.
Continuing West you can travel approximately 400m before it gets really shallow. We decided to try and get further up but we were constantly off and on the boards and eventually called it a day besides Abby Mills Farm. You can paddle the section after the Tree stopper but it is a lot of work to get there for not a lot of paddling on the other side.
The best place to turn is just after the stone structure on the side of Lady's walk (if you've never done it give it a go!) in the image below.
This route is ideal for anyone who can carry their own board, or if you have a group you can even team up to carry the boards the short distance to get upstream of the stepping stones. The water is very slow moving - with the exception to the section just downstream of the stepping stones which you can't really paddle due to it being so shallow. The Row boats open around 10 so keep that in mind when planning your start time.