Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

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morsey
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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by morsey »

Daffers this clip is of one of the hardest rapids on the Upper, in low flow, with a person who sounds quite similar to you in terms of experience and skill level. http://blip.tv/morsey/tim-upper-d-4815570

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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by Daffers »

Morsey, I'll take a look later at home - can't see video's at work.

Thanks.
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hardy
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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by hardy »

Daffers,i havent time to read all the stuff here,but am intrigued by your original thread.Personally i couldn't wait to be good enough to be taken on the "Upper",and first time it was testing for me,but i managed fine (it was very low).I then paddled it several times, higher,(but was still below the ledge) and really enjoyed every trip.I have paddled it a fair bit,often at ledge level,although circumstances have limited the amount of times i have paddled it above the ledge,and i am trying to sort that out.

But,as many have said,you really should go for it.Sunday ,i and a few friends,took a 2nd timer down with his son (aged 14).They walked Euthanasia and Surprise,but had a great day,and so did we.It was 4" below the ledge,enough to give it some flow,but slow enough to not be daunting for the youngster.

It has got a big reputation,and some days it deserves that,but Sunday was a lovelly day on a gorgeous river.It is,to me,a magical place,and you are missing out.

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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by ian000 »

I would second what Hardy said- I waited what seemed like an age to be taken down what I thought was one of the best rivers I ever paddled.

The level -I think- was just below the ledge and I walked Suprise and swam on Euthenasia.

I have been an arm chair paddler for a few years now (although strangly I can't stop myself checking in here to see whats going on) but the Upper Dart is the one River that I would happily max the credit card out on gear for and go and have a day out on it.

I think someone else mentioned about knowing whether you can get a load of eddies on Lovers leap being a good benchmark for a low level crack at the Upper and I would very much agree with that. I certainly was never anywhere near a grade 4 paddler and can't remember feeling really out of my comfort zone on it.

Ian Morris

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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by Daffers »

mark Hirst wrote:...get yourself on amazon and order yourself a copy of a book called inner skiing by Timothey Galway.
£15 on Amazon - I'm too tight to spend that much and Reading Borough Libraries don't stock it (but have asked for it to be bought). Anyone wiling to send/lend me a copy??!!
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mark Hirst
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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by mark Hirst »

you know what to ask santa for then ???
To be honest its cash well spent it helped me with so many things besides paddling issues
good luck
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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by Daffers »

mark Hirst wrote:you know what to ask santa for then ???
To be honest its cash well spent it helped me with so many things besides paddling issues
good luck
Well its my brithday next month, I'll ask my sister for it!
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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by garya »

Daffers wrote:
mark Hirst wrote:you know what to ask santa for then ???
To be honest its cash well spent it helped me with so many things besides paddling issues
good luck
Well its my brithday next month, I'll ask my sister for it!

That's what Amazon wish lists are made for, just add it to your wish list and email it to her. It helps makes sure she gets the right thing then.... ;-)

Gary A

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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by Richard Gunton »

Its famous because its sexy.

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janet brown
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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by janet brown »

Daffers

Have you dared yet?
I seem to have a fantastic pool session roll, that doesn't translate to the river. I paddled the Loop once in Dec 2009, then, after a year out of paddling, 3 times in Dec 2011 (all in a L'il Joe) and then once in January 2012 in my new creek boat (Zet Veloc).
Last weekend we went to DartFest, and had signed up for sessions with Chris Eastabrook. On Saturday we worked on various skills individually on the Loop, going down to RDCP. I had one swim at Triple 1 and walked Holne weir as I was tired.

Before leaving, Chris mentioned that on Sunday he might take us on the Upper depending on the others in the group. I wasn't terrified by the prospect, and knew my husband was keen on the idea. It was a fantastic days paddle on a low level Upper. I was fully guided (but thats another thread on here) and walked 3 rapids including Euthanasia and Surprise Surprise. Never even felt I was going to capsize unless you count the time a handy rock shoved me back at the point of no return!

All I can say is: go for it, but definitely have the right people and levels. I was never scared, but am absolutely amazed at the gradient of the Upper: none of the GoPro footage does it justice. I was buzzing all day yesterday at work, and haven't stopped smiling since. Not sure when my next foray will be, but I'm happy with that.

Janet

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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by Sickboy »

As Janet has said, its the first river I've paddled where I really noticed the world dropping away from me.
I paddled it the other week for the first time, very low water, walked Euthanasia, just too low, and surprise surprise had no line, but otherwise great fun, another few inches of water would have been great, but that's for next time.
Oh, and two rolls, one in the mad mile rock dodging (badly) and one back loop (god knows how in a large burn).
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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by eeonz »

I paddled it for the first (and second) time this weekend. I don't think the scrapey low level did it justice, but I would be happy to paddle it at a higher level now. Absolutely fantastic river - can second the comments on the gradient. "Where's the river gone?" Also the continuous nature of some of the rapids. Hundreds of metres of boulder gardens, following the person in front with no real need to break out. We need more of that in this country! Everybody was buzzing when we got off, with talk of driving down from the Midlands for a day some time to experience it again. I only paddled the Upper, but can imagine that the Loop has just as much to offer.

http://www.nookie.co.uk/riverresource/u ... /index.htm This shows the major rapids on the river quite well (although they're quite unrecognisable from the level we ran it at.)

Having said that...

It's remote. The group that I was in was involved with a first aid incident on both days, made more complicated by the lack of phone signal and distance from the road. Pack more than a throwline and a mars bar for this one.
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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by GrumpyPumpy »

I'd like to add my thoughts on this in an effort to try and help you overcome your fears.

I first started paddling in the early 70's and was the first British paddler to paddle at the now defunct Swiss Wild Water week, I was paddling a fibreglass Gaybo Olymp back then and this is how I got to be a confident paddler on continuous G4.

The thing about the Upper Dart is that it is a bit like an Alpine river it is steep (you can see the gradient) and technical in places and when you are on the water you are moving fast so you need to look well ahead and think and act early.

A lot of emphasise (perhaps too much) is put on rolling but you need to put just as much emphasise on support strokes, my thoughts were back then if I don't capsize then I don't need to roll and there is no chance I'll swim. I don't particularly like swimming.

Get yourself some pool time with a local canoe / kayak club if you don't already do this and get yourself to a state where you can efficiently support stroke when somebody is deliberately trying to tip you out of the boat and if he does manage to get you over, you can roll in a nice warm safe pool without even having to think about it.

There are loads of weirs on the Thames near where you live get as much time as you can playing in those weirs when they are running with your competent group to learn how to stay upright in boily water.
Then if the above hasn't taught you to roll when you have capsized a few times, with your group of competent paddlers find a nice safe weir preferably with a pool or slow large eddy where deep water rescues can be carried out easily or the bank can be reached easily.
It's a whole different kettle of fish rolling in cold fast moving water in which case you need to paddle in and deliberately capsize and attempt to roll, keep doing this until you are confident you can roll or you are too knackered to carry on.
Repeat as necessary.
You really don't need to be a competent roller to be able to paddle the Upper as long as the group you are with are experienced and competent and able to carry out rescues efficiently and providing you don't tackle it at too high a level of water.
I have a friend who is crap at rolling has done the Upper a number of times and swum a number of times but he still enjoyed it, if you haven't already got one get a decent dry suit we used to paddle in wet suits and they are crap in winter, I used to freeze my nuts off until I got a dry suit.
It will help your confidence to be able to roll but again I can't emphasise enough being able to keep yourself upright is as important if not more so!
NO capsize NO swim = Smiles all round.

I first paddled the Upper in the Mid to late 70's with a competent Royal Navy paddler who knew the river well, It's important that when you paddle it you paddle with a competent group with at least one leader who knows that stretch of water well. Once you have been down it once you won't be able to wait until the next time.

Good luck and do something positive to overcome your fears then relax and enjoy your first paddle on the Upper Dart.

GP

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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by Franky »

In the absence of new threads, I thought I'd resurrect an old one :)

I paddled the Upper Dart for the second time in November, and upon re-reading this thread, some thoughts came to mind:

- IF the Upper Dart is "infamous", and I'm not sure it is, it's partly because of the names of some of the rapids. On my first trip (medium level), I asked a fellow paddler, "When do we come to the Mad Mile?" and he replied, "That was it." I felt elated but on one level slightly disappointed. It had been great fun - a series of technical Grade 3+ drops - but it didn't feel like a proving ground that had elevated me to a new level of paddlerdom, and it certainly didn't feel mad. The drops all had big pools beneath them, and while it was exhilarating, it wasn't nerve-wracking in the way its name implied.

Then Euthanasia Falls... definitely a challenge; I went down it upside-down and rolled at the end - but again, there is a big pool at the bottom at low or medium levels.

(I portaged Pandora's Box on the advice of the group leader; I think he'd been concerned by my less-than-controlled descent of Euthanasia.)

Of course I understand that it becomes much more continuous and serious at higher levels - and I would assume (correct me if I'm wrong) that most of the serious accidents on the run have been at those levels.

- As it happens, I think "infamous" is the wrong word - "famous" is more like it, and famous with good reason. It is simply a fabulous run. There are challenging features round every corner, with plenty of eddies and pools to pick up pieces where necessary - and the gradient is quite spectacular, so that when you're looking down the river from the bank, it seems quite intimidating, but thanks to all those eddies and pools, you can take it a step at a time. It's just a perfect paddler's river.

I'd say the Upper Dart is more Alpine in feel than most English and Welsh rivers - it just keeps going, rather than being mostly Grade 2 with the occasional showpiece Grade 3 or 4 bit.

My second trip, this year, was at a low level, and unlike the first time, I did the whole thing without capsizes or portages. It was hard to compare my two trips, given the two years between them, but the difficulty at low and medium levels felt about the same. At low levels there was less flow, but there were more rocks to dodge. Both visits count among the best days I've spent paddling.

There is also something uniquely atmospheric about the Upper Dart than I can't put my finger on. The valley is so steep, and it feels so wild and remote.

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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by jmmoxon »

It's infamy was due to the higher levels required to get down it originally in fibreglass boats.

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Re: Upper Dart – Why is it infamous?

Post by Strad »

What Mike said! if you ever paddled it in the days of using glass slalom boats as your main WW boat it was always "interesting" to run
Old School?? I miss my AQII..
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