GUIDE TO THE DE LANK RIVER
(Delford Bridge to River Camel Confluence)
NAME OF RIVER: De Lank.
WHERE IS IT?: Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. Not far from the A30 between Launceston and Bodmin.
Here is a map.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The river above Delford Bridge (GR 114759, OS Landranger 200) is paddleable but very overgrown. Put in at Delford Bridge or walk in a few hundred metres along a footpath to the footbridge at GR 101749 if you want to avoid the river's really masochistic sections...see below.
Take out at the bridge near Tregaddick GR 089738 or paddle a kilometre of flat water down to the River Camel and take out at Merry Meeting Bridge, GR 089732.
APPROX LENGTH: 3 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Three hours+. Feels like a small lifetime.
ACCESS HASSLES: Brian Runnells (November 2002)...'I was particularly interested in your article on the De Lank river as we own the stretch of river from below the Quarry down to Key Bridge which is about a mile in length. Anybody who is interested in kayaking down the De Lank will be more than welcome to put in on our stretch of the river.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The De Lank drains a large boggy plateau (called Bodmin Moor) and seems to retain its flow well after rain. Anyway, you need some rain to bring the river up. At the put-in bridge, you need just enough water to float under the bridge. Much more than this might not be a great idea for the top half, due to the gradient!
Note that a significant amount of water is extracted halfway down, at the quarry. If you are just doing the bottom section from the footbridge, then you want as much water as possible.
GRADING: Grade 5 with portages. Grade 4 from the footbridge.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Where do I start?
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From Delford Bridge, the river is flat for about a mile and there are a number of tree blocks to duck or portage. Trees continue to be a pain throughout the trip, but these were the only blocks in October 2002.
A glance at the map will show you that the river then loses a hundred metres in height in the following mile!
When you see quarry workings appear above you on river right, be on your guard. There is one bouldery fall to warm you up, and then suddenly the river falls off the edge of the world! Tight back to back drops provide plenty of excitement as the river loses an impressive amount of height in a short distance. It is all paddleable, but depending upon water level and how new your boat is, you'll probably make a portage or two.
However...sharp edged blocks of quarried rock and old metal industrial junk start appearing in the falls; not very nice. Then, when the quarried blocks begin to outnumber the rocks put there by nature, the river throws the ultimate insult at you...it simply disappears. You are presented by a blank wall where the river should be.
What is going on? Well, the river has sunk under the masses of discarded blocks of stone heaped into the gorge by generations of quarrying. These blocks are overgrown and have almost blended into the surroundings. That leaves you with the humiliation of shouldering your boat up the river right bank and carrying it down past the quarry buildings to a track which carries on along the bank of the (missing) river. You need to choose a spot to climb back down to the river, but don't be fooled...the river resurfaces and then disappears again more than once.
When you put back in, you'll find some more steep falls. Note the large pipe on river right which appears to have taken a significant amount of water out of the river. You reach a footbridge at GR 101749 which is a great starting point if the river is high, or if you want to miss the gruelling adventures above.
From the footbridge onwards, the river eases to continuous grade 4 and eventually grade 3 just before the bridge near Tregaddick. This section would be a great place to be with lots of water.
If you've started from Delham bridge, you'll probably collapse from exhaustion at the takeout.
OTHER NOTES: Cornwall's grade 5 river. who would have thought it? If you do this at all, I guarantee that it'll just be the one time. Leave the playboat at home and take your elbow pads.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Brian Runnells.