River Dart Access 2007/08

Inland paddling
Post Reply
User avatar
DartFolks
Posts: 227
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2002 11:33 pm
Location: Devon
Contact:

River Dart Access 2007/08

Post by DartFolks »

From Adam Box:
The River Dart has kept the BCU Access team extremely busy over the summer on several fronts:

We have:
• been trying to seek less restrictive and easier access to the loop, and more access to Dartmeet.
• continued to seek access to the East and West Dart rivers upstream of Dartmeet.
• met with Mark Simpson to seek a resolution to the parking issue and use of his land as base for canoeing in the area.
• Negotiated with Dartmoor National Park in trying to establish a DNP run shuttle bus service for paddlers, running between Holne Bridge and New Bridge.

Last week Fiona Edmonds and I had a very friendly meeting with officers of the Dart Fisheries Association after previously failing to agree on several points which were central to the access agreement. On this occasion we felt that there had been a sympathetic hearing of our points and that we had achieved most of what we sought, so we have agreed in principal to the terms of the access agreement which they have offered for a 12 month trial period.

So how does this affect paddlers?

Firstly, there will be no access to the River Dart Country Park for this season. Mark Simpson was pleasant, helpful and positive, but he has now established a very lucrative wedding business on his grounds during the winter and understandably does not want people in various states of undressing welcoming guests!! He has very kindly allowed us to use the egress point on river right immediately after Holne Bridge though, for this season. The very limited parking at this point means that many paddlers would be better advised to carry on to Buckfastleigh, but this is not compulsory.
In addition, Mark has kindly offered to allow us to use a section of his land close to Waterworks Bridge to create a car park for canoeists, and we are already working with Darmoor National Park to look at the planning and costing issues with this. If it does go ahead it is unlikely to be ready during the coming season.

Secondly, we are now able to issue access permits to 60 people per day for Dartmeet (instead of 40), and the season for Dartmeet will now start on November 1st instead of December 1st. The access point for this stretch is changed and will now be much easier, with paddlers accessing the river immediately beside the Dartmeet car park, i.e. above the road bridge.
The DFA members are very concerned about the safety of paddlers and it is crucial that paddlers take more responsibility for their safety and cause less wasted call outs for the Devon Air Ambulance, Dartmoor Rescue Group, the local fire brigade, etc. This means taking more care and thought over who is on the water, especially at high flows, and being prepared and equipped to conduct rescues without outside assistance. In addition all paddlers are required to indemnify the DFA and its members against any legal and/or financial liability which may arise as a result of their use of the river.

Thirdly, on the Loop (Newbridge to Holne Bridge) and below, it is no longer necessary to pre-book access. There are no dated permits to be issued and no daily numbers limit, though we suspect that numbers will become self regulating. We are currently considering a means of identifying those paddlers who are BCU members, as this will indicate that such people have the insurance cover required by the DFA.
The non availability of the River Dart Country Park will impose parking pressures on Holne Bridge which we hope to reduce by sponsoring a shuttle bus with DNP. The funding of this transport has not yet been finalised but we are looking at a scheme whereby the Dart Access Fund would make a substantial contribution so that BCU members would be able to use the bus free. More info when finalised.

We hope that paddlers will agree that we have gained some considerable benefits and improvements to the agreement. Sadly though, we did not get everything we had hoped for. Despite a very positive meeting in January which was attended and reported on by Simon Westgarth, amongst others, we have not been able to extend the agreement to cover any of the East and West Dart Rivers. We conveyed considerable disappointment at this as both the Environment Agency and Dartmoor National Park had expressed their support for paddling on agreed sections of these rivers.

Paddlers do need to know though that the Cherrybrook tributary is considered to be one of the most important spawning places for the entire Dart system, so anyone paddling there could find themselves facing criminal proceedings for damaging spawning grounds. Similarly, some sections of the West Dart upstream of Huccaby Bridge are considered to be of very high ecological importance, such that dog walkers, horse riders and others are banned from the area. Under these circumstances it would seem appropriate for paddlers to respect the National Park’s wishes and stay away from this area.


I recognise that some contributors to UKRGB will not support the access agreement and will continue to post stories of their ‘non-agreement’ exploits on the river. For the many thousands who have continued to use the river under the terms of the agreement I hope the changes described above will make their paddling days on the Dart more enjoyable and flexible.

Adam Box
Regional Access Officer, Devon and Cornwall
Fiona

Icarus & Fiona Edmonds
BCU River Dart Access

www.dartaccess.co.uk

User avatar
morsey
Posts: 6282
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:36 pm
Location: West Country :-)
Been thanked: 4 times

Post by morsey »

Lets take a quick assessment of this "agreement".

Following the Access Briefing
English Council 25/3/06

For endorsement by CE/WCA any access must
• Only restricted by environmental
limitations
– Water level
– Not other users off season
• Not be restricted to membership/exclusive
groups or specific numbers
• Secured in perpetuity

I can see straight away that this agreement does not fall within the bounds of the Access Briefing that we were lead to believe that Canoe England were following in the same way that the Welsh Canoeing Association are currently. So to this end I do not see how this agreement can be endorsed.


If Canoe England are declining to stick to the endorsement policy for agreements then I think it is probably time we brought our union to issue on this matter.

RobMoffatt
Posts: 1082
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 2:37 pm
Location: Oswestry

Post by RobMoffatt »

It's an improvement, but no where near a solution. Just to clarify, the get on for the Upper is now directly above the bridge and no longer 200m downstream as it has been previously?

User avatar
DartFolks
Posts: 227
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2002 11:33 pm
Location: Devon
Contact:

Post by DartFolks »

RobMoffatt wrote:Just to clarify, the get on for the Upper is now directly above the bridge and no longer 200m downstream as it has been previously?
That's correct.
Fiona

Icarus & Fiona Edmonds
BCU River Dart Access

www.dartaccess.co.uk

User avatar
morsey
Posts: 6282
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:36 pm
Location: West Country :-)
Been thanked: 4 times

Post by morsey »

So Fiona can you tell us if this agreement is endorsed by Canoe England?

User avatar
morsey
Posts: 6282
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:36 pm
Location: West Country :-)
Been thanked: 4 times

Post by morsey »

Also with regards the section above Huccaby bridge, I spoke with the National Park warden and there seemed to be a certain amount of confusion with regards the restriction of access by all users to this section. The warden seemed to give conflicting info to what is being presented. Perhaps we can have absolute clarification with a map or grid references of the area concerned.

RobMoffatt
Posts: 1082
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 2:37 pm
Location: Oswestry

Post by RobMoffatt »

DartFolks wrote:
RobMoffatt wrote:Just to clarify, the get on for the Upper is now directly above the bridge and no longer 200m downstream as it has been previously?
That's correct.
Thanks for clarifying that.

User avatar
neilfarmer
Posts: 2076
Joined: Sun May 25, 2003 1:11 am
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Post by neilfarmer »

RobMoffatt wrote:
DartFolks wrote:
RobMoffatt wrote:Just to clarify, the get on for the Upper is now directly above the bridge and no longer 200m downstream as it has been previously?
That's correct.
Thanks for clarifying that.
Just out of interest, and in no way provoking an argument, started by myself or anyone else!, was the access not 200m downstream to 'protect he very sensitive gravel beds where the salmon laid eggs'? If that was the case (and I may be wrong), what has changed?
Neil Farmer.

User avatar
Simon Westgarth
Posts: 6567
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 5:05 pm
Location: Øyer in Norway
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 8 times
Contact:

Post by Simon Westgarth »

neilfarmer wrote:Just out of interest, and in no way provoking an argument, started by myself or anyone else!, was the access not 200m downstream to 'protect he very sensitive gravel beds where the salmon laid eggs'? If that was the case (and I may be wrong), what has changed?
It became apparent that these swarming beds were not signifcant nor was it important to portage around them, based on an opinion put forward by the EA. I am sure Adam can add the specifics.

Good news on the potential alternative for a take out at RDCP. Why not get on with developing this quick sharp and avoid all the need for a bus shuttle service for this year. As the willingness of paddler's on the whole to pay for car parking at the RDCP for the last few seaons, is evidence that such a shuttle bus even if susidised by the Dart Access Fund will not be popular.

User avatar
Adrian Cooper
Posts: 9773
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2002 2:26 pm
Location: Buckinghamshire
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 18 times

Post by Adrian Cooper »

simon d westgarth wrote: Why not get on with developing this quick sharp and avoid all the need for a bus shuttle service for this year.
There will be local authority planning issues and a consent to be obtained before the work can commence. This is likely to take at least two months after preparations of the drawings and submission.

User avatar
DartFolks
Posts: 227
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2002 11:33 pm
Location: Devon
Contact:

Post by DartFolks »

simon d westgarth wrote:
neilfarmer wrote:Just out of interest, and in no way provoking an argument, started by myself or anyone else!, was the access not 200m downstream to 'protect he very sensitive gravel beds where the salmon laid eggs'? If that was the case (and I may be wrong), what has changed?
It became apparent that these swarming beds were not signifcant nor was it important to portage around them, based on an opinion put forward by the EA. I am sure Adam can add the specifics.
The DFA representatives said that the spawning gravels have moved very slightly downstream and so paddlers were actually in danger of walking over them at the original get in (and some were getting in on top of them off the field that we were supposed to go around) - they feel there is less likely to be damage if they are paddled over rather than walked over.
Fiona

Icarus & Fiona Edmonds
BCU River Dart Access

www.dartaccess.co.uk

User avatar
Jim
Posts: 14106
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2002 2:14 pm
Location: Dumbarton
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 71 times

Post by Jim »

DartFolks wrote: they feel there is less likely to be damage if they (spawning beds) are paddled over rather than walked over.
I think this statement marks a major leap forward in thinking doesn't it?

Well done to all involved, Rome wasn't built in a day, keep chipping away at that nuT!

Jim

User avatar
Martyn Read
Posts: 387
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2002 12:51 pm
Location: Bristol
Contact:

Post by Martyn Read »

Well done to all those involved. It's great to see the BCU access team have been working to avoid the chaos that was looking enevitable this winter, e.g. parking and the shuttle bus.

The whole issue of whether the BCU/Canoe England should adopt the WCU approach aside, one statement in Adam's post bothers me.
Paddlers do need to know though that the Cherrybrook tributary is considered to be one of the most important spawning places for the entire Dart system, so anyone paddling there could find themselves facing criminal proceedings for damaging spawning grounds.
I thought the BCU position was that Canoeing did not damage spawning beds? Is the above trying to be informative or advise people not to paddle there?

Martyn

User avatar
Adrian Cooper
Posts: 9773
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2002 2:26 pm
Location: Buckinghamshire
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 18 times

Post by Adrian Cooper »

I don't know this particular stream but if it is very shallow, damage could be a real possibility and this may be the reason the EA have suggested it not be paddled.

EdC
Posts: 52
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 11:58 am
Location: Battersea, London

Post by EdC »

See - http://www.flashearth.com/?lat=50.51359 ... =0&src=msl

This appears to show cars and camping in the field to the left just after the bridge at RDCP - i.e. just the other side of the road from the get out point that's been in use recently.

This looks like the precedent has been set to allow parking in that field.

ammo for use in your access/parking discussions?

User avatar
JacobF
Posts: 94
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 1:24 pm
Location: Basingstoke
Contact:

Post by JacobF »


AJC Box
Posts: 78
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2005 9:01 pm

Post by AJC Box »

Martyn Read wrote: I thought the BCU position was that Canoeing did not damage spawning beds? Is the above trying to be informative or advise people not to paddle there?

Martyn
I believe the BCU's line is that 'there is no evidence that canoeing damages spawning gravels'. This assumes a reasonable depth of water between kayak and river bed, and that there is no disturbance of the gravels/redds by a paddle. An obvious way of avoiding any accusation of damage is by agreeing a minimum level at which canoeing can take place, but this was not supported by the owners or the EA. As the gravels on the Cherrybrook are considered to be of huge importance to the Dart fishery, and as I believe we have a duty to prove we are environmentally aware and sensitive, I would suggest that it is best to avoid that tributary. The information that the EA bailiff is still threatening to take legal action against anyone who paddles there is given as just that, information.

The proposed car park in RDCP would be in the field which is on river left immediately before Waterworks Bridge. It would be accessed by entering the RDCP drive and turning right into the car park immediately before the entry kiosk and barrier. I am awaiting the outcome of a site meeting involving DNP planners before we can move on with the idea, and realistically it isn't likely to happen this season, which is a pity.

Finally, I note the usual voices of dissent and the frequent references to the WCA's access policy. I warmly applaud the activities and policies of the WCA and wish them every success, but having policies does not necessarily change the situation on the ground. I have just returned from a week in Mid and North Wales where almost every river I saw had prominant 'No Canoes' signs, and I saw no canoeing taking place. How does this match the view that we should follow the WCA's example, I wonder?

Very many thanks to the many people who have emailed Icarus, Fiona and I with support for the new agreement, it is much appreciated.

Adam Box
Regional Access Officer, Devon and Cornwall

User avatar
Tom_Laws
Posts: 8122
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 8:37 am
Location: North Wales
Been thanked: 1 time
Contact:

Post by Tom_Laws »

Thanks for the update Adam.

Zoe Newsam
Posts: 1426
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 11:06 am

Post by Zoe Newsam »

AJC Box wrote: I have just returned from a week in Mid and North Wales where almost every river I saw had prominant 'No Canoes' signs, and I saw no canoeing taking place. How does this match the view that we should follow the WCA's example, I wonder?

Adam Box
Regional Access Officer, Devon and Cornwall
Maybe, just maybe because it is August? I know we've had a wet summer, but most of the rivers in England & Wales are not at paddleable levels at the moment, and are therefore not being paddled. That has nothing to do with 'no canoeing' signs or access agreements.

Personally I do not concur with the thought that any access agreement is better than no access agreement, and feel that the WCA are much more in line with most people's thinking on this. I am a BCU member, but will continue to paddle the Dart without a ticket as I have done in recent winters. I do not buy a ticket to walk in the UK hills, and I don't believe I should have to buy one to paddle the rivers either.
Zoe Newsam
Sea Kayak Guide & Mountain Leader

User avatar
morsey
Posts: 6282
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:36 pm
Location: West Country :-)
Been thanked: 4 times

Post by morsey »

Hi Adam thanks for coming on and giving the low down.
Can you please answer a couple of questions:

The Bailiff you refer to, is this Mike Maslin? If so he is not a bailiff, he is an Environment Agency Environment Officer. (I asked further up the thread for confirmation of the area concerned above Huccaby bridge. It would be good if this info was in the public domain.)

Are you saying that Canoe England are not adhering to the policy laid out in the English Council Access Briefing Principly:
For endorsement by CE/WCA any access must
• Only restricted by environmental
limitations
– Water level
– Not other users off season
• Not be restricted to membership/exclusive
groups or specific numbers
• Secured in perpetuity



Canoeing is not a crime, I shall not be forced to skulk about pretending I did not go paddling. The improved agreement is not actually that improved and yes open access will continue for two simple reasons:
1)All requests must be accompanied by a BCU NUMBER.
2)We cannot process access requests which are sent to us only days before the proposed trip (note the current Metcheck "research" being done on paddling conditions board for long term forcasting)

This agreement is restrictive and with it still come the shackles of not paddling the West and East Dart. Remember you keep asking us all to stay off these tribs because we are jeopardising the chances of attaining an agreement! What agreement? You simply can not produce the goods by continuing to use the current strategy.

User avatar
Adrian Cooper
Posts: 9773
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2002 2:26 pm
Location: Buckinghamshire
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 18 times

Re: River Dart Access 2007/08

Post by Adrian Cooper »

DartFolks wrote:From Adam Box: Despite a very positive meeting in January ........................ we have not been able to extend the agreement to cover any of the East and West Dart Rivers. We conveyed considerable disappointment at this as both the Environment Agency and Dartmoor National Park had expressed their support for paddling on agreed sections of these rivers.
I am curious to know who is objecting to paddling on these rivers outside of the fishing season if the EA and DNP are supporting it.

Inuit
Posts: 52
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 9:18 pm

Post by Inuit »

The Bailiff you refer to, is this Mike Maslin? If so he is not a bailiff,
The EA do not employ “bailiffs” they were re-branded as Enforcement Officers a number of years ago.

User avatar
muppet
Posts: 201
Joined: Mon Sep 30, 2002 9:36 pm

Post by muppet »

Hi Adam
I appreciate the continued efforts that you have put in over the years (I for one would have chucked in the towel years ago), however I fear that you are fighting a losing battle on the Dart. I am afraid that all of our efforts since 2001 at RDCP have opened Pandora's Box (nice ref to the upper) and I am not sure that it is possible to close it.

For better or worse the access agreement has been ignored for the last few seasons and a situation of free paddling has arisen. To think that paddlers will do anything except continue to ignore any agreement (whatever it may be) is, in my opinion, foolish.

I fear that what will happen is that the same number of paddlers will descend on the river only to now be faced with a complete lack of adequate infrastructure. We both remember the bad old days of the carnage at Holne Bridge only this year it is going to be much much worse,

I feel certain that the ensuing problems will simply cause Mark to get more annoyed and lose the paddling community any good will it has in the local community.

Unfortunately I also find myself in a position where I totally agree with the sentiments of Morsey et al even though I except that in the short term our actions will cause major problems in the area. In the long term I wonder if this whole thing might not be good for paddlers as it is sure to blow the status quo apart. What we really need is a situation to arise where the fishermen and the landowners accept that Kayakers are here to stay and accept that they have no right or ability to dictate to us how we go about our sport.

Despite saying all the above I totally agree with suggestion that those sections which do have REAL sensitive environmental issues such as reds should have some voluntary regulation on them be it a season or a level (or indeed both). Whilst I don't agree that paddling over reds in good flows does any damage, I can't help but feel that paddlers sliding over them, walking on them etc etc does not help if it is at spawning time for instance. Also if it is that low is it really worth doing as it is going to be rubbish!

Anyway there we go, luckily for me I have moved to the north so it is not so much of an issue for me anymore. I suspect that even as I write this the local Police, Traffic Wardens, Bailiffs and angry locals are gearing themselves up for a winter the like of which we have not seen for several years if at all.

Muppet

User avatar
Tom_Laws
Posts: 8122
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 8:37 am
Location: North Wales
Been thanked: 1 time
Contact:

Post by Tom_Laws »

In the long term I wonder if this whole thing might not be good for paddlers as it is sure to blow the status quo apart. What we really need is a situation to arise where the fishermen and the landowners accept that Kayakers are here to stay and accept that they have no right or ability to dictate to us how we go about our sport.
This is what it's all about.

Cheers Muppet.

Tom

User avatar
Adrian Cooper
Posts: 9773
Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2002 2:26 pm
Location: Buckinghamshire
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 18 times

Post by Adrian Cooper »

I agree Muppet.

All sensible groups of any size should reappraise their normal paddling arrangements to avoid, as much as possible, places with potential high congestion. I am hoping that the Newbridge carpark will be able to cope (I may be wrong). Egress points should be more widely scattered even if this means paddling a bit further.

Anyone who complains about having to paddle another couple of miles should be singled out for abuse. You can paddle the Loop in much less than an hour. (Last year a friend and I got on at 9.00am, paddled the Loop, drove the boats back to Newbridge to meet the rest of the club for a 10.00am start. It was no sweat)

There are a number of potential egress points apart from Holne Bridge. The BCU land at Holne Weir, the railway station car park at Buckfastleigh, the big layby opposite fenced of by the kind anglers, a layby at Austins Bridge, Staverton etc etc.

User avatar
DartFolks
Posts: 227
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2002 11:33 pm
Location: Devon
Contact:

Post by DartFolks »

morsey wrote: 1)All requests must be accompanied by a BCU NUMBER.
2)We cannot process access requests which are sent to us only days before the proposed trip .
I am sure Adam will address your other points in time (please remember we are both busy teachers and this is the first week of the academic year - I am drowning in paperwork at the moment!).

From an admin point of view - we are working on point (1) - we need to review the "Temporary" BCU membership offered for the last few seasons.

(2) Thank you for pointing out that I hadn't updated this - done tonight- it only applies to the Upper now, of course. The "e mail booking MAY be possible" option = if you are prepared to colour print and laminate your own tags (providing there are not already 60 people booked).
Fiona

Icarus & Fiona Edmonds
BCU River Dart Access

www.dartaccess.co.uk

Zoe Newsam
Posts: 1426
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 11:06 am

Post by Zoe Newsam »

Erm, I think you've missed the point entirely.
Zoe Newsam
Sea Kayak Guide & Mountain Leader

User avatar
Tea Boy Tom
Posts: 557
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 10:54 am
Location: N. Wales, amongst other places
Contact:

Post by Tea Boy Tom »

AJC Box wrote: Finally, I note the usual voices of dissent and the frequent references to the WCA's access policy. I warmly applaud the activities and policies of the WCA and wish them every success, but having policies does not necessarily change the situation on the ground. I have just returned from a week in Mid and North Wales where almost every river I saw had prominant 'No Canoes' signs, and I saw no canoeing taking place. How does this match the view that we should follow the WCA's example, I wonder?

Very many thanks to the many people who have emailed Icarus, Fiona and I with support for the new agreement, it is much appreciated.

Adam Box
Regional Access Officer, Devon and Cornwall
First of all, many thanks to you folks for taking time out to try and come to some sort of arrangement, whatever it may be. I feel that Muppet raises some good points on this matter.
However, the view stated above did make me wonder! I'd guess the reason you saw no one boating last week wasn't due to the 'No Canoeing' signs, but the fact that there was no water and everyone was kite flying, bouldering or just generally loafing about a bit.
Policies at management level only make a difference on the ground if the management (Ash in this case) are willing to take action to support paddlers who are acting in accordance with those policies. This is what Ash and the WCA are doing and this is what will make a difference in the long run.

Post Reply

Return to “Whitewater and Touring”