Text from The Environment Agency Document 'Esk and Coastal Streams CFMP 43
The river sits within a steeply sided valley, with relatively narrow floodplains. Between Castleton and Lealholm, the River Esk flows within a 200-300m wide floodplain at the bottom of a steeply cut valley.
Downstream of Lealholm, the river valley narrows and the river is contained within narrow floodplains and gorges down to Sleights. From Sleights to Whitby, the floodplain progressively widens to a typical width of around 300m.
The topography of the Esk catchment is a significant factor in the magnitude and rate of catchment runoff. The steepness of the valley sides causes the rapid and sharply peaked floods characteristic of the Esk. The narrow river corridor with narrow floodplains means there is little attenuation of floods as they move through the valley.