GUIDE TO THE RIVER EAST OKEMENT

(Upper section to Okehampton)

NAME OF RIVER: East Okement.

WHERE IS IT?: North Dartmoor, flowing into Okehampton which is near the A30. Map.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Drive up the "ring-road" past Okehampton camp and bear left. This brings you to within about 200m of Cullever Steps, GR 605922.

Finish the trip at Okehampton College (GR 589949) where there is plenty of parking.

APPROX LENGTH: 5 km.

TIME NEEDED: Unknown.

ACCESS HASSLES: Access problems are unlikely. Be aware however that you are encroaching upon MOD land.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The East Okement requires masses of rain to come into condition. Ideally the moors will already be saturated and you will set off on the epic journey to the put-in whilst heavy rain falls. It will only stay up for a short period.

It should be easy to decide whether the river is in spate in Okehampton. There is also a gauge beside a lane beneath the A30 roadbridge at GR 603947. This should read a minimum of 0.45 metres, ideally it should read 0.55 or higher.

Update  (March 2004)...'We finally managed to get on the East Okement in fairly high water....0.65 when we launched. At this level the 'fun slides' all merge together to form a single long steep grade 4+/5 megarapid which is perhaps the most exciting rapid in the South. Yes, a single rapid with only marginal possibility of stopping, dropping 150-200 foot of vertical height. The downside is that the slides practically terminate right into the tree-strewn section, so be careful. Most of the next kilometre to below the waterfall has to be portaged as the water is in the trees. The series of rapids downstream of the waterfall become grade 5 (slot is still probably a portage) with sticky holes and stopping above them is tricky. All worth it for the slides though, truly amazing...'

GRADING: 4+. 5 in spate.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees galore.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: One of England's more adventurous paddling trips, the East Okement combines trekking, steep slides and technical drops to make a memorable day out.

There is no warm-up. The East Okement squeezes between some bushes and then suddenly a worrying amount of open space opens up below you. The East Okement loses an impressive amount of height in the next kilometre, sliding down long granite slabs. This is great fun and mostly harmless; but watch out for the slide which dumps you into a coffin slot.

Sadly, this can't go on forever. The river changes character to bouldery rapids and over the following kilometre trees encroach to an awkward extent. Whilst these are quite bearable (compared to, say, those on the nearby River Taw) you may wish to retain your enjoyment of the river by portaging for a few hundred metres.

The river regains interest when the character changes once more. A long section of bedrock ledge drops commences with a nasty six metre waterfall. This has been run, but the paddler (a young Ed Cornfield) landed upside-down on rock. The portage is easy enough on river right.

Not long after the portage, be on the lookout for a nasty little slot drop which may require a short portage. Otherwise, the next section is splendid with many drops and small holes to keep you busy. The river only winds down when you float under the A30 and pass the gauge.

Grade 3 water takes you into Okehampton through canalised banks. There are small weirs and footbridges through a park before the finish at Okehampton College is reached. Take out on river right. If you continue below here, finding a takeout in town is difficult.

OTHER NOTES: Better than Alton Towers.

It is possible to carry on further downstream. If this is running, the nearby Taw (dire) and West Okement (nice, but easier) will be running. There is also Moor Brook.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Pete Stothert.

Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: River East Okement - Upper section to Okehampton -- Simon Westgarth
2013 Oct 28 04:33:42 PM
From the end of the slides to the waterfall, there are several new bushes and shrubs that have grown over the past 2 years or so. Some summer work is needed up here.
Re: RIVER EAST OKEMENT (Upper section to Okehampton) -- Sharpen
2012 Jun 28 06:54:25 PM
The "Access hassles" bit on the guide warns that you are on MOD land. Do not let that put you off.I am the Senior Rural Estate Surveyor responsible for Dartmoor Training Area. The land at the head of the East Okement is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, who licence it for military training. However, there are no military restrictions on public use of land outside the live firing danger area, even when training is taking place. Within the Range Danger Area, public access is excluded when live firing is taking place for obvious reasons. However, even when there is live firing on Okehampton Range, you can still get access to the East Okement at Cullever Steps without going into the Ranges.When live firing is taking place, you will be stopped at the end of the public road at Moorgate near Okehampton Camp - the civilian sentry will warn you about live firing and ask where you are going. Tell the sentry that you are going to park at the end of the track to Cullever steps, and carry your boat to the east down to the river Okement. Make sure that you know where the track is (although there is usually another civilian sentry parked there and a barrier across the road by the small road bridge on the tarmac road just after the Cullever Steps track. Once the sentries are sure they know where you are going, and that you will not drift into the training area, they will let you through.
Re: RIVER EAST OKEMENT (Upper section to Okehampton) -- pH
2011 Feb 07 03:47:24 PM
Footage of the slides @6 on Fatherford guage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvvJdNWTv4Q
Re: RIVER EAST OKEMENT (Upper section to Okehampton) -- hardy
2010 Nov 11 06:23:12 PM
Did East Okemont today ,was just below 6 on the gauge under the viaduct.Higher than earlier in the week when Mike Moxon did it,but little changed,nothing to worry about (at least that is what Moxy said,he was with us).



Fantastic non stop paddling.Did some of the top section twice.Great.



Hardy
Re: RIVER EAST OKEMENT (Upper section to Okehampton) -- jmmoxon
2010 Nov 09 12:06:11 AM
Slide at put in (4 on gauge):



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