What's wrong with the SW?

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Mark R
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What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark R »

I'm currently going over the South West riverguides I wrote a decade ago for the guidebook 'English WW' - there is going to be a new edition, it seems. This hopefully gives me an excuse to spend this winter indulging my favourite fetish pursuit, exploring chossy tree ditches...but obviously there is much work to be done correcting and updating the original guides. This'll be a labour of love - we didn't get any dosh last time beyond a few tanks of petrol, presumably the same will apply this time...but hopefully a new edition will keep on encouraging paddlers to get out there and enjoy our rivers.

------------------------------------

I'm aware of numerous things which are out of date or inaccurate (my favourite is the advice to walk and carry in to the East Okement, when there is a perfectly good road...), but help me out...

What errors/ omissions/ anachronisms can you spot? Seriously, take a look and save me some work. All constructive input welcomed.

Needless to say I don't intend to be wasting ink mentioning arbitrary 'Agreements' and similar restrictions, whomever is trying to impose them.
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Big Henry
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Big Henry »

If you want the sat nav coords that I've done (.csv format that opens in Excel) I'll send you it. It's easy enough to filter out the rivers in the SW.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by -Ginge- »

I would love to see a reference that proves the Upper Dart is actually the best piece of white water in the UK. It's always described as such but never have I been able to discover where such rumours came from.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark Dixon »

I've seen enough Polls and discussions from many different paddlers to say that it is so, yet I've only paddled a few years so not many rives out of area. All I know is its 4 or 5 miles of non stop action that sometimes I love and sometimes (like yesterday) it scares the pants off me for no real reason (only lapping as well) There are harder rivers but not as good according to the Polls.
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by SimonMW »

I suppose it comes down to a number of factors that all combine. One of the main ones is the convenience at which the Dart can be paddled. There are decent car parking facilities. The river itself has a high number of "clean" rapids, i.e unlike many rivers in guides the Dart isn't full of portages to avoid trees, fences, deadly sumps and siphons etc.

The Dart also offers variety. Judging from the videos I have seen and from what people have said here it varies from a nice technical 3+/4 at low levels to a big volume G5 when it is tanking.

Lastly, unlike many other rivers in the UK of a similar grade the Dart isn't a narrow tree filled ditch, and the ride is of a decent length too with the rapids being fairly continuous. There is no time to be bored on it.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Michael Hatton »

Your below watford gap?

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Jim »

The main thing I can find wrong with the SW is that it's too far from Scotland.

This is especially true when your client is in Plymouth.... because the only way I can get there sensibly is to fly, and then I don't have the freedom to go visit my old haunts on the moor in my spare time, in fact I don't even have any spare time.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark R »

-Ginge- wrote:I would love to see a reference that proves the Upper Dart is actually the best piece of white water in the UK.
I'll write it into the guide, and therefore definitively prove it.


Folk...any comments/ corrections on the current guides?

Cheers in advance,
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by StoneWeasel »

I'll dig out my guidebook and have a look as I seem to recall there was something slightly off on the Fowey guide but I can't remember what off hand.

If you want to add any more tree choked ditches I don't think there was any mention of the Par in the old guidebook and that has a nice but short section at Ponts Mill (be aware that the constriction is deeply undercut though) or if you are feeling really masochistic then you could check out Withey Brook which I do believe would be excellent without the tree chokes every five meters.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Conrad Dowding »

The two that immediately spring to mind are the West Dart and the Lower Tavy.

For the West Dart I think it's recommended to get on below Two Bridges by parking at the layby at GR 612 749 and walking down the field, to avoid the redds on the flat bit upstream.

For the Lower Tavy, there is a Forestry commission car park at 473 674 downstream of Denham bridge which is better for big groups as the parking at the bridge is limited.

Conrad.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by morsey »

Conrad Dowding wrote:For the West Dart I think it's recommended to get on below Two Bridges by parking at the layby at GR 612 749 and walking down the field, to avoid the redds on the flat bit upstream.
Small groups in high water or for 8 months of the year that restriction does not really apply! Bigger groups, unsure of levels, unsure of aquatic migration/breeding, then the lower get on is prudent. The river doesn't start at Two Bridges.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Tom_Laws »

I'd like some more of the history and flavour of the place.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by DaveBland »

Tom_Laws wrote:I'd like some more of the history and flavour of the place.
...it tastes of clarted cream and paaasties, my lurver?
dave

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Mark Allen
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark Allen »

At 4th Step at Newbridge, I would not recommend the East Dart as there are alot of trees and very little eddies.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark Dixon »

Mark Allen wrote:At 4th Step at Newbridge, I would not recommend the East Dart as there are alot of trees and very little eddies.
Yes I read the guide and I think it needs updating as it definately needed to be lower level and the guide suggests spate conditions. That would be fine if there were no trees.
Someone or some of us would have got nailed for sure.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Randy Fandango »

Mark Allen wrote:At 4th Step at Newbridge, I would not recommend the East Dart as there are alot of trees and very little eddies.
Is it the usual trees that grow out and across the flow or are there trees down across the river?
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark Allen »

Both, The forest at Beliver looks like several trees have fallen into the river.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Randy Fandango »

Mark Allen wrote:Both, The forest at Beliver looks like several trees have fallen into the river.
Lordy -- it was always a bit of a tree-dodge in places -- must be pretty lethal now at high flows :-/
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark R »

Cheers all, keep it coming.

Anyone been on any of these runs in recent years?

Horner Water
Camel
Fowey
Lynher
Lyd
De Lank
Bovey
Webburn
North Teign
West Okement

If so, would be interested to hear what condition they're in...

Cheers...
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Mark Allen
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark Allen »

Bovey - Mike Mokon paddled in 2010/2011 and portaged a lot of trees
Webburn - Paddled in 2011 and portaged 10 trees
Attempted the East Webburn in 2010 - Gave up after 1km
North Teign - 6-7 tree portages from footbridge to Hotel 2011
West Okement - 300m of fun 2011 rest full of trees

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark R »

Mark Allen wrote:Bovey - Mike Mokon paddled in 2010/2011 and portaged a lot of trees
Webburn - Paddled in 2011 and portaged 10 trees
Attempted the East Webburn in 2010 - Gave up after 1km
North Teign - 6-7 tree portages from footbridge to Hotel 2011
West Okement - 300m of fun 2011 rest full of trees
They sound like a right mess. Of that list, only the Webburn and Bovey were this bad before.
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark R »

StoneWeasel wrote:the Par ... has a nice but short section at Ponts Mill (be aware that the constriction is deeply undercut though)
Sounds interesting - I think I've been thereabouts as a tourist (industrial ruins?) but don't recall the river. Can you tell me any more details?

Not sure I'll make it to Cornwall this season, anything else worthy of consideration down your way? Lower Fowey? Warleggen?

Cheers,
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Jon_Brown »

StoneWeasel wrote:If you want to add any more tree choked ditches I don't think there was any mention of the Par in the old guidebook and that has a nice but short section at Ponts Mill

Is it runnable further up? From long off memory I was thinking the bit beneath Treffry's Aque/Viaduct, but I was about 12 so the stream is probably much smaller today and back then with fibreglass boats time paddling V time repairing put us off.
I guess we also didn't have the brains to think too much about if that bit of stream fed the Hydro plant at Ponts Mill or if it was the water going over the Aqueduct....

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by StoneWeasel »

Mark R wrote:
StoneWeasel wrote:the Par ... has a nice but short section at Ponts Mill (be aware that the constriction is deeply undercut though)
Sounds interesting - I think I've been thereabouts as a tourist (industrial ruins?) but don't recall the river. Can you tell me any more details?

Not sure I'll make it to Cornwall this season, anything else worthy of consideration down your way? Lower Fowey? Warleggen?

Cheers,
I am going from memory as I have not been there in a while but the Ponts Mill section is a short little stretch of grade 3+/4 that is very quick to run so multiple runs are the norm. It is tight and very continuous with no real exit route from once you have started the mini gorge until you get to the bottom as the sides are slippery vertical brickwork (it was canalised for the sake of the Mill). There are some nasty little siphons to watch out for and some undercut sections too, this combined with the fact that one tree across any part of it could be a serious problem makes inspection essential but this is fine as you can scramble up a small bank and then inspect it as you carry your boats to the top.
Park in the car park at the bottom (Map ref: SX 072 562) and you can not fail to see the river and the path that leads upstream, I have always put on where the path comes to a little beach a couple of bends before the gorge (grade 2 down to the gorge) and got out by climbing up the grate that covers the offshoot that abstracts water (I think for a hydro project) as it is angled and an easy exit.

Here are a couple of pics of the river.
Image
Image
The tree is no longer there but just to give an indication of how serious some of the undercuts are there were at least 2m more of that branch than can be seen in the image even though it appears to be going into solid rock very shortly. Also the constriction that is pictured in the second image is also very undercut so keep your nose up or at least pointing forward as you enter the constriction.

As for other good things around here, I am a massive fan of the Golitha falls section but despite out best efforts to clear the worst of the trees a few years ago there are a lot of trees back in the river and probably a few more after the last weeks weather. I think I have paddled the whole Fowey now though from Golitha down to the sea and below this section is a fairly long section of grade 2 gentleness with a couple of small weirs (mainly natural with one man made I think but I am a little hazy on this) until you reach the Trago Mills section which is a lovely introduction to moving water (it was my first river) which is essentially a load of different style but not unfriendly weirs with gentle pools below to up the pieces if anyone comes unstuck. After this there is a short stretch of grade 2 with a couple of small drops and then you are into what is commonly referred to as the playspot run from the Halfway House pub down to Bodmin Parkway Station which is pretty much grade 2 with a few drops that may be grade 3 and one drop that is certainly grade 3, a couple of the drops make pretty decent playspots in anything but low flows. After this section you are back to gentle grade 2 touring down to the start of the tidal section at Lostwithial. From Lostwithial to the sea is a lovely touring paddle though if you go with the tide, very pretty with plenty of good wildlife as I recall.
I also think the Camel is a great little river and one of the most fun sections of fairly continuous easy grade 3 anywhere, just keep an eye out for the barbed wire across the river but that is easily avoided.
I have heard great things about the Warleggen but not from any sources I would call reliable and have never paddled it myself.
I have walked along the banks of Withey Brook and it looks like it would be a really fantastic section of river if it were not for the trees but there were a serious amount of tree chokes when I was there that made it unrealistic to paddle.
Jon_Brown wrote:Is it runnable further up? From long off memory I was thinking the bit beneath Treffry's Aque/Viaduct, but I was about 12 so the stream is probably much smaller today and back then with fibreglass boats time paddling V time repairing put us off.
I guess we also didn't have the brains to think too much about if that bit of stream fed the Hydro plant at Ponts Mill or if it was the water going over the Aqueduct....
I have never run it from further up but I remember having a discussion with Roger Ford who reckoned it probably all went from the viaduct at Luxillian Valley with a bit of water in, I am not sure if he ever did test his theory though.

Denzil

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Mark R
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark R »

Denzil, that's fantastic info. Will get back to you in due course to discuss this run further.

I like the look of it!
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by hardy »

I was with Mike Moxon on the Bovey the day mentioned above.
Having just re read your original description , it is pretty much spot on , nothing changed . You were right , worth it once , just once. I remembered we counted about 30 trees across the river , not many passable , some potentially lethal. Paddle safe , expect to walk , and it is still a great place to pass through.

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by StoneWeasel »

Mark R wrote:Denzil, that's fantastic info. Will get back to you in due course to discuss this run further.

I like the look of it!
I'll be around in the bar at the APWE if you want to grab me for a quick word then, I will no doubt in a black fedora or a white panama so I should not be too hard to spot.

Denzil

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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by pete thorn »

Some info due on the East Lyn. Will post when access to the river issues at Brendon are a bit clearer.
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark R »

Conrad Dowding wrote:For the West Dart I think it's recommended to get on below Two Bridges by parking at the layby at GR 612 749 and walking down the field, to avoid the redds on the flat bit upstream.


Just trying to get my head around this - is this advice for when the river is low paddleable? I'd generally be inclined to give it a miss. Can't see that you'd be able to do any harm to the redds when the river is flowing well...
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Re: What's wrong with the SW?

Post by Mark R »

I've seen a few paddlers getting onto Cherry Brook (West Dart trib) - what is actually down there? Has anyone paddled from further up, i.e. the Postbridge road?

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