GUIDE TO THE RIVER TEME
(Ludlow to Ashford Carbonell)
NAME OF RIVER: Teme.
WHERE IS IT?: England, West Midlands, Shropshire, Ludlow, off the A49.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: We put on the river behind the castle a hundred meters or so upstream of the main town bridge (SO507745). Through the more pleasant months of the year the park on river left is open and you can park and access there. When we arrived in October it was closed so we parked at the rugby ground (no permission) just upstream and walked down to the park. We tried to ring the rugby club but no one answered the number on the sign and it was deserted, so we took a chance they wouldn't mind.
We took out about 5 km down stream at (SO521711). This is outside the village of Ashford Carbonell, just after a bridge and immediately before a small but dangerous weir. Make sure you know where the weir is and egress as soon as you can river left just after the bridge on a slippy bank. This land is private and we asked the landowner's permission. There is a route across the fields going diagonally right with the river behind you, across a sty and onwards to a gate by the a small road. This is obviously a quiet area so be respectful of the locals.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 km.
TIME NEEDED: With no hanging about an hour should do it. We had a rough time with swimmers and took about 2.5 hours.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: I have only done it the once and it was at a reasonably high level; we assumed it to be high as the water level was 6 inches over a small jetty at the get-on in the park.
GRADING: Generally I-II with four weirs, some of which are tricky and inspection would be recommended though this is not easy.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: There are four weirs/drops within a kilometre or so of getting on. All deserve some respect. The final weir immediately after the getout is alleged to be terminal.
Karl Bungey, Jan 2006...'The newly rebuilt weir (4th after the get on under the castle) has been finished and is a mess. Reports on this weir so far have all been negative from the local canoeing community. In medium to high water levels the stopper, and the whole weir, looks horrible. There is a canoe shoot but, as LRA, I would advise ANYONE paddling the river to get off upstream river left by a storm drain and inspect the weir for
themselves. Portaging is possible from this egress point by following the road to the right and turning right to go parallel to the river. Get back on by some steps on the right of the road opposite a few bungalows.'
G Mascall (Jan 9th 2005)...'The new weir below Ludford bridge has a large tree stump firmly stuck at the bottom just to the left of the fish pass. There are also several large rocks sticking up, so this may have damaged the weir itself. Concerning the kayak passage, this looks like it will feed you directly into the stopper formed by the water coming over the right side of the weir. Take care here if the rock at the top is under water, as this could be a seriously unpleasant place to be.'
Paul Flannagan, 03/08/03...'Please note - Castle weir is slowly being under cut by the action of the water; this has resulted in a noteworthy cavity being formed, river right about 5m out from the bank. The undercut will take most of the front end of a kayak and is over 1m deep. PLEASE TAKE CARE. About 20m's after the rebuilt weir there is a fallen tree right across the river and great care is need especially with novices. It is just passable river left up against the reeds.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Most of this section is a relaxing bimble on what is rarely grade II. However, immediately after getting on the river you encounter a diagonal sloping weir of about 1.5 metres. We ran this easily on river left as there was a tree stuck at the top and the river right appeared a bit bouncy for our novices, but had an inviting though untried wave.
You then pass under the upper town road bridge and quickly encounter the next two weirs. This section is canalised and has few if any easy eddies. The first of these was another diagonal sloping weir of about 1 metre that had less towback on the river left. The river then passes an island and under the second town bridge. Straight after the bridge you want to be on the river right of the island for the next drop, a very rough, sloping weir best run on the day we did it on the far river right. The river left of the island may be OK but it's near impossible to see anything of the drop. We had a hard time scrambling up the walled in river to reunite novice swimmers and kit in this section.
DB adds (Oct 02)...'Ludford Mill Weir (the one below the 2nd bridge from the put in). This weir has recently been rebuilt, the weir is still a V shaped weir with the point facing up stream. Though now it has a fish ladder, about 2' wide at its apex. The weir is constructed with what looks like a 1' to 2' wall at its base, a good way along each side. About 8' upstream, and marking, the top of the fish ladder is a large flat topped rock. Myself and a group of friends paddled over it in low water conditions, by going down to the right side of the fish ladder. It was ok, but more water would give a smoother ride down the weirs face. I reckon that if the centre right passage looks too nasty in high water, there is an easier way down on a ramp on the extreme right end of the weir. The side adjacent to the old Youth Hostel. The rock will give a good guide to the river level. It will also be interteresting to see what the weir is like in higher water.'
Nathan Ball adds (November 2002)...'After paddling the Teme a few weeks ago we were informed by the chair of the weir trustees that the rebuilt weir (Mill Weir) has had a special canoe/ kayak passage built this is directly river right of the fish ladder (Although it is a bit bumpy scrapey). They also informed us that it was BCU approved, although we were not too convinced.'
Within no time you are upon the last drop just as you are leaving town. This looked like it could be run in a number of places and was only a slight drop but did have the problem of low trees and debris.
After this the river ambles along generally flat with the occasional grade II for 3-4 km before reaching the getout. Egress immediately after the bridge on river left (having checked this is OK with the owner) and be careful not to go as far as the dangerous weir just after.
OTHER NOTES: At the level we did this I wouldn't take recently introduced paddlers down again and it would be pretty dull for experienced whitewater paddlers.
There is very little of interest for the majority of the paddle yet it starts with some weir navigation where things could go wrong for the inexperienced. The short distance between the second and third drops combined with a lack of slack water or eddies could turn a mellow trip into something more serious at certain levels; there was a point where our groups had three or four people separated from their kit distributed variously on the island, up a high wall on the road or swimming the third drop on the back of a boat.
There is an easier section downstream of Tenbury Wells.
The river has been described in high water, there is access to the river from a small park close to the put in described, this puts on just below the first weir, it can have a wave sometimes but it isn't great. The second weir can be run anywhere at anytime as long as you run it with a bit of pace, run the bridge through the river left arch and there is usually a small play wave to be found although in high water there is a stopper to play in in the middle arch, the eddylines are fun. The weir immediately below has an island in the middle, at low/ medium water there is only one line down the chute on the river right hard against the island, easy protection, good play spot, but don't stay too long as the owner of the house may get grumpy. In higher water when the whole of the weir is covered it can be run anywhere with speed although I usually follow where the chute should be. The fourth weir is easy if you run into the eddy river left, although there have been a few epics in the horrendous bush in the back set up safety if you have inexperienced paddlers. After that it is a bimble all the way to the weir at the end.
The landowner is amiable if you ask him in advance, he isn't keen on people running the last weir so please try to keep him happy. There is also the possibility to run down a tributary from the A49 to extend the trip, but there is very little to recommend it and access is dubious.'
Alex Rankin (3/02/02)...'In high water levels there is normally a good standing wave to play on immediately river right as you pass under Ludford bridge (where the petrol station is). You can view this from the road bridge before hand. There are eddies behind the bridge arches to line up the wave. Quite biggish water is required to stoke it. If the river is up, once under the bridge you will have to shoot the broken weir so check that out as well. Nice spot to be, blue remembered hills n'all.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Jez Kent, also Chris Hudson, DB, Nathan Ball, Paul Flannagan, Karl Bungey, G Mascall and Alex Rankin.