(Clapper Bridge to Lustleigh)


WHERE IS IT?: Dartmoor, near Bovey Tracey. Map.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Put in at Clapper Bridge (753828), which isn't a clapper bridge. There is some space to park here.

Take out at the next road access, Drakeford Bridge. There is a sizeable parking area here.


TIME NEEDED: A few hours of hard work.

ACCESS HASSLES: No access problems have been reported here.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The Bovey drains a wide area of bogland. Once this is fully saturated after a long wet period, only a moderate amount of rain is needed to make it paddleable.

The level is difficult to judge at the put-in. What looks like a reasonable low paddleable level is actually too little; much of the water drains under boulders in the steeper sections.


MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees. Large and unusual boulder choke.

Mark Quest (Jan 2005)...'Myself, Dave Fletcher and a couple of trusting fools from N. Devon paddled this on the 8th of Jan......well i say paddled! We ended up portaging about 12 trees that blocked the entire river and limbo'd countless others. Luckily there wasn't too much water, so there was time to get out. With very much water it'd be death on a stick. A shame as its got bags of potential.'

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Bovey is a small river with plenty of interesting rapids formed by rounded green boulders. It flows through the glorious woodlands of Lustleigh Cleave. Straight through them.

This has the makings of a good trip, but is spoilt by numerous obstructions, mostly green and made of wood.

The first kilometre is flat and involves paddling under or over two wire fences. The river then narrows to form a small rapid leading down to a low clapper bridge which may need portaging in high levels. Directly below are a series of small bouldery drops which give some idea of the river's character; the boulders are jumbled loosely and much of the water siphons underneath them.

The following section picks up pace and steepens to grade 4. The river drops away alarmingly beside a house on river left. Don't worry, it's just the river sinking underground. Basically a huge pile of rocks blocks the river and the water gradually percolates through it rather than over it. This is harmless enough, simply climb out and carry your boat down to the pool below.

The following section is the best of the Bovey. The river narrows and flows down a series of steep flumes. This is also where the trees become a problem. From this point on, expect to portage around a great many fallen trees, not always in convenient places.

The rest of the Bovey is continuous grade 3 with several steeper grade 4 sections. In addition to the trees, you'll find yourself portaging a low footbridge.

Towards the end, watch out for a huge undercut boulder on river left. You'd have to be a moron to paddle under it, but that covers most paddlers. After this, you pass under another bridge and it's just two more tree portages to the takeout.

OTHER NOTES: Worth doing once. Honestly.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Mark Quest.