Dartmoor - it's not crap anymore

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Mark R
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Dartmoor - it's not crap anymore

Post by Mark R » Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:18 pm

Another wet weekend on Dartmoor, just like we used to have in the good old days, before boating in the Southwest officially became crap.

A pleasant run down the Dart on Saturday (4.5 on gauge?), with some upper Dart virgins popping their cherries. Our finely tuned pre-trip planning went awry when we got to the Dart Park and realised that our clothes were in the car with the guys who had just gone up to the top for another run. Oops.

We slept in the car high up on the moor last night. We hadn't listened to the weather forecast, so we didn't know that 90 mile an hour winds would shake the car to pieces, all night long. At least it rained enough to bring everything up!

We all regrouped in Princetown in the morning to plan our day's Triple Crown action...some arrived a bit late due to downed trees in the road. We went to the upper Walkham first...it's a couple of years since I've done this, I'd forgotten what a gnarly little ditch it is. Great! Water levels were dropping fast though, the high water tide mark was 2 feet above our water level. We then went to the Plym which was on the low side - too late! - so we didn't bother, and did a full-team run down the upper Tavy instead, everyone got on the water for this one, except for Andy McMahon's mum*. This was brilliant, nice medium level and sun in the sky. I'd forgotten what a superb paddle the Tavy is.

There is a little known local law which says that all Devon paddling days must end with an upper Dart run - however late - so a few of us finished up on that...5 on the gauge? At least we just about got on before sunset this time, a distinct improvement on last week's night-time scares.

Devon...all is forgiven. After two hideously dry winters, we're only a couple of months into the season and it's all good again. It's rained every day to some extent for the past three weeks...fingers crossed it keeps like this for the Adventure Paddler weekend.

Mark Rainsley
--------

*Down for the weekend to visit her son...she got dragged all the way to Devon to run shuttle...

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:06 pm

Oh yes...and Chas Couchman for Prime Minister.

Chris Wheeler wasn't with us on Saturday. However, just after we'd sat down for dinner in a pub in Ashburton that evening, a phone call from Chris came through, along the lines of...

"I've just arrived and done a late run down the Upper and Loop, and now I'm at the Dart Park, it's dark, and there are no paddlers here. Could someone come and give me a shuttle back to the top?"

There was an uncomfortable silence, no one would meet anyone else's eyes...but Chas volunteered to jump on that grenade for the team. Good man.
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Post by JacobF » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:18 am

Dartmoor this weekend was indeed absolutely amazing.

Starting the weekend off with a dawn run of the upper dart.
There’s something rarver magical about being on a empty river with clear blue skies, the morning sun breaking over the valley, mist swirling across the top of shimmering golden water, just beautiful.

Followed that with a "solo" sprint of the loop in a duo and back to RDCP for breakfast and to rally the freshers.


Its mornings like that, that remind me why I go boating.



And Mr Couchman should indeed be up for such a position, having saved us plenty of hassle by passing on the information about the downed trees on Sunday morning.

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Post by Grandad » Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:26 am

Having run the Upper for the second time in a week at decent levels, I'm beginning to think I may have gone to heaven.
We had fun taking a few Upper newbies down who all got on great with no real problems. I got a really ugly line through Surprise which means I'm now looking for elbow pads on the net this morning. Brilliant.
"I'm not young enough to know everything"

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Post by buck197 » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:27 am

Big water is not good news for everyone as it can rule out paddling when above our skill level, I'm working on improving.
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Post by feelingjustfine » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:30 am

Big water is not good news for everyone as it can rule out paddling when above our skill level, I'm working on improving.
Big water is awesome even if you are improving, just different from rock bashing. Look at the people who learned to paddle on the white nile......
dam the dart :)

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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:31 am

This weekend didn't really see big water...on Saturday there weren't many options but the Dart was running reasonably. On Sunday a few rivers were big at 8 am, but by lunchtime everything had calmed down, e.g. the Plym was too low and the upper Tavy was at a perfect medium level for an intermediate group to enjoy.
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Post by buck197 » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:35 am

Can be intimidating though.
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Post by Steve B » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:37 am

feelingjustfine wrote:Big water is awesome even if you are improving, just different from rock bashing. Look at the people who learned to paddle on the white nile......
Oooh, be careful with that one. There is a world of difference between a naturally big volume river like the Inn (and presumably the White Nile but I've never been there) - and rivers which have a low background level but are bank full and more due to heavy rain. The Inn can have four or five foot waves and still be easy and "safe"*, an English grade 2 in spate can be a very dangerous place.

* usual caveats apply to "safe"!
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Post by StoneWeasel » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:43 am

I had an absolutely lovely run down the Upper Dart on Friday at a reasonable level 4.5 - 5ish I would guess, all the rocks covered but nothing too evil hole or stopper wise.
I did not see a single other soul on the river (apart from Pete with whom I was paddling) which was really lovely. Also taking the worst line of my life on Euthanasia gave me a good chance to test my WRSI helmet, took a really quite hard smack to the head on my inverted descent of the falls (first time I have run Euthanasia upside down and I don't recommend it) and felt absolutely fine afterwards (not even the tiniest hint of a headache), thank you WRSI.

Unfortunately the brakes on my car then failed (luckily not at a critical moment but while pulling over) taking me out of action for the rest of the weekend =-(

Denzil

P.S. SW paddling rocks once moor (sorry I could not resist).

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Post by Chas C » Mon Dec 04, 2006 12:46 pm

Had a nice upper run on Saturday, and middle tavy on Sunday.

The Upper run on Sunday am was cancelled due to the high levels, and we couldn't be bothered with the hastle of getting to New Bridge for a Loop Run so headed over to Tavistock.

Sunday am was a bit of a surprise with the four tree's down before New Bridge - Rich and I did or best to warn as many people as we could to go via the back routes.

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Post by nichburton » Mon Dec 04, 2006 12:47 pm

Although I've done it before (very low), Saturday was my first run of the Upper Dart with decent water. Lots of fun, and with strong winter sunlight filtering through the trees over misty radids, very picturesque too.

Image

Slideshow of some more photos here. After cunningly stealing Mark's clothes, Kev F and I did a second run in duracell mode, giving me a chance to follow his hard-right boofed line into Euthansia. Now that really was fun.

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North Wales

Post by Andy_L » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:07 pm

I went to North Wales with a group from Surrey Scouts.

Saturday - We did the Llugwy from Capel Curig to Betws-y-Coed in medium water levels.

On Sunday, everything was in spate. I ended up doing a solo run of the upper Conwy. The rivers were considered too pushy for the others in the group.

Andy

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Post by crazy_baby » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:12 pm

Upper dart was fun saturday morning even went for a second run after getting are play boats to make it a little more exciting. Had a great run on the meavy into the lower plym early sunday morning and went straight to cadover bridge for a quick run down the upper plym. Was a little scrapey but a good run non the less! Lots of trees on both stretches!

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Re: Dartmoor - it's not crap anymore

Post by hodgkins » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:13 pm

MarkR wrote: everyone got on the water for this one, except for Andy McMahon's mum*.
Well there was great debate whether Andy would be forcing his mother into the car and dragging her down to devon. I knew my money was safe.
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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:33 pm

Some really nice pics there, Nick. I never saw your camera at all, you must have taken them sneakily!
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Post by feelingjustfine » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:39 pm

Steve B wrote
Oooh, be careful with that one. There is a world of difference between a naturally big volume river like the Inn (and presumably the White Nile but I've never been there) - and rivers which have a low background level but are bank full and more due to heavy rain. The Inn can have four or five foot waves and still be easy and "safe"*, an English grade 2 in spate can be a very dangerous place
I get what you mean but at the same time things like the loop are always just class3 (maybe3+ in MONSTER) water. Look at it like things like the lower Roy, in HUGE water I love it - again just a class3 but massive wave trains and nothing too worrying. It's great to get into different styles of paddling like low volume(things like the etive/moriston) but on big volume runs you can really benefit and it improves your all round paddling. Get out on the big small and inbetween stuff from the start and it will make you a better all rounder and you won't rum away as soon as you see a class4 river with 30cms in it that would look dead scary if you had only paddled low volume stuff. Get me drift like innit......
dam the dart :)

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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:43 pm

feelingjustfine wrote:things like the loop are always just class3 (maybe3+ in MONSTER) water.
I agree. But massive carnage regularly happens on these occasions, because paddlers don't seem to appreciate the hugely increased risk that is now added to that innocuous little number.
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Post by Dave Thomas » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:47 pm

I'm not convinced that you are on SteveB's wavelength. Yes, a bank-full grade 2 river may well still be grade 2. The added danger comes not from the increased speed and power of the water or even from the flow or under-river features, but from overhanging trees, fences running into the water, etc. I'm not aware of anyone building such features into the grading, but they are a very significant difference between a naturally-high-volume river and a smaller river in flood.
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Post by feelingjustfine » Mon Dec 04, 2006 1:50 pm

MarkR wrote
But massive carnage regularly happens on these occasions, because paddlers don't seem to appreciate the hugely increased risk that is now added to that innocuous little number.
Thats why the dart is great- start off at the bottom till you can work your way up to the upper at all water levels. Buckfast run at big levels(excluding those horrible weirs when i say this of course) is great to get used to the "swirlies" and boils and so on , the the loop you just build up. I have paddled it high- seen it in monster but was up to do two bridges run so never put on- is just great practice. I think peoples idea of "Big water" is sometimes a little off when you take into consideration the real big stuff. Things like the d.meet in high water- OK hard big stuff but peoples fear tend to get in the way. My vote is we get a glacier or build more tidal races to get big volume on the map for the UK! Me and banzer have talked about puting a double decker bus under the ballachulish bridge to see if we get one there!
dam the dart :)

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Post by tizereyes » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:58 pm

nichburton wrote:Slideshow of some more photos here
Thanks for that Nick. Glad to see that someone was up for photo duty, seeing as Mark failed miserably* to capture my moment of glory on Euthanasia.

*Claims camera turned itself off. Rubbish.
Last edited by tizereyes on Mon Dec 04, 2006 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:19 pm

tizereyes wrote:Glad to see that someone was up for photo duty, seeing as Mark failed miserably* to capture my moment of glory on Euthansia.
But you didn't run Euthanasia.


Unless you can prove otherwise...?
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Post by Davefr » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:29 pm

Saturday-
Upper Dart- followed by a Loop run to RDCP.

Sunday
Lower Walkham/Lower Tavy
and then a quick drive up to the upper Tavy- to finish off the day

Regards

Davef

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Post by tizereyes » Mon Dec 04, 2006 4:28 pm

MarkR wrote:
tizereyes wrote:Glad to see that someone was up for photo duty, seeing as Mark failed miserably* to capture my moment of glory on Euthanasia.
But you didn't run Euthanasia.


Unless you can prove otherwise...?
First you tell McDoom it was 'carnage'. And now you claim I walked? The lies just grow and grow....

But it's still nothing to the number of hankies that I know you have tucked in your BA.

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Last Weekend

Post by superman » Mon Dec 04, 2006 5:05 pm

DOOOOOH!!!!
So I missed a good weekend huh? Well Saturday I went with Phil n Doug to the Upper Irfon which was too low but we did it anyway.Two drops however proved more tricky in lower water. The last was reminiscent of my performance at Slot n Drop at the Erme the previous weekend ending up much the same way. Put a bit of spice into therun. Talking of which WE WERE DISTRAUGHT TO FIND THAT WE WERE UNABLE TO PROCURE THE TEN INCH TOASTED TEA CAKES AT THE DROVERS TEA ROOMS AT THE END OF THE RUN AT LLANWRTYD WELLS due to it being closed.Strees or what!!!
I feel there are a few ghosts to be laid to rest next weekend. Grrrrr.
Is Mrs McDoom coming again?

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more

Post by superman » Mon Dec 04, 2006 5:12 pm

Oh yes I nearly forgot. On Sunday morning when you were all doing mega exciting things Rodeograndude was increasing his river cred by going to a meeting. GRRRRRRRR and double GRRRRRRR.
Still going to a meeting rather than going paddling must mean I`m a really important person.

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Post by Mark R » Mon Dec 04, 2006 6:41 pm

One anomaly of the past weekend was that Liz and I met a red-haired dancing girl when we climbed off the loop on Saturday afternoon.
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Post by Chris W » Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:58 pm

Chas, thank you, for the life/ face saving lift back to Dartmeet. And all you wanted in return was a pint of coke. I did, however, pay the price for my belated arrival with a £15 round!

Plan A- grovelling text gets through and courtesy car magically appears at Newbridge? Nope. Had to put back on at 5.10 pm.
Plan B- meet the usual suspects in the RDCP bar and get a lift? Nope, bar closed.
Plan C- remember to take the mobile, head torch and cash and 'phone them at the pub- yep, worked.

Splendid weekend. My Saturday boating commenced at 9.30 am as I finally made it over the boil line and dropped into the Shepperton 10 gate 'pit of doom'. It ended on a moonlit River Dart at 6pm. Thames Valley play boating and Custard Country creek boating- both were too good to miss, so being dreadfully indecisive, I did both.

On the Sunday, the first mile on the Upper Walkham was a bit more intense than I remembered, in fact, I think it's slightly hard than the Plym. Worth sacrificing a hairy scary Dartmeet spate run for it? Oh yes. We are due another spate Dartmeet so maybe we'll jump on there first next time.

Chris W.

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Post by tomdowns » Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:10 pm

Mark, how come you don't have a helmet on whilst your scouting Euthanasia?

http://static.flickr.com/109/313898957_ ... f1.jpg?v=0
http://static.flickr.com/104/313899237_ ... 4f.jpg?v=0

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Post by McDoom » Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:16 pm

Liz


Not that it matters because it's all good giving it a go, but I heard that you swam 3 times and walked Euthanasia and Pandoras.

Don't worry about it, next time you run it you'll swim less, and so on, and eventually you'll be bombing down. That's how it works!!!

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