GUIDE TO THE RIVER ERME

(Harford Bridge to Ivybridge)

NAME OF RIVER: Erme.

WHERE IS IT?: South Dartmoor.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: This section starts at Harford Bridge (SX 636596). There is space for only a few cars beside the bridge. The locals at Harford have always been patient with canoeists; don’t abuse this by blocking the narrow lane. The trip finishes in the centre of Ivybridge. Take out just upstream of a weir beside the Leisure Centre (SX 635560). In high water, the upper Erme is well worth considering.

APPROX LENGTH: 3.5 miles.

TIME NEEDED: Plenty first time down (3 hours+?).

ACCESS HASSLES: None.

The BCU River Adviser for the Erme is:

Bruce Daykin
319/320 Faraday Trade Park
Faraday Road
Plymouth
Devon
PL4 0SP
Tel 01752 600722
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Don't bother unless it's rained heavily and recently. Look at the weir-like falls under the main bridge in Ivybridge. If it can be paddled, so can the river. The degree of 'scrapey-ness' of this fall gives you an indication of how much you will scrape up at the put-in. If the first ledge is well covered, upstream will be a serious and powerful trip...grade 4 with some 5? If all these falls are WASHED OUT, as we observed in Oct 98, go elsewhere or die.

GRADING: To some degree, this river gets progressively harder as you head downstream. It is grade 3-4 in very low water, grade 4 at most levels, getting much harder with higher water levels until it becomes 5-6!

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Plenty of tree jams along the upper section of the river still remaining from the Oct '98 flood. The most serious section of the river is the final gorge, which can be portaged easily. In high water the narrow slot is a portage.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A brilliant trip! Directly below Harford Bridge, the Erme starts off with a bang, dropping over a series grade 3-4 ledges and bouldery falls. The river then loses gradient and mellows to grade 2-3 with the occasional small drop. There are about three tree blockages in this section (Dec '99), two of which can probably be bypassed at water level. One is a definite portage. After about a mile, the river begins to steepen again. Keep an eye out for when the river drops over a 50 cm ledge....directly downstream the river narrows without warning into an undercut narrow slot. This is paddleable at low water levels but generates plenty of back-loops and swimmers! When the drop into the slot has 'filled up' in higher water, a huge back-tow appears and this innocuous looking slot becomes unpaddleable. Portage on river right Below, the river becomes progressively harder with big stoppers to 'enjoy' in high water; steep and continuous grade 4, but with a few falls you will no doubt recognise...

A grade 4 ledge fall directly below the slot on a left-hand bend, followed by several long natural ramps.

A long ramp on river right where the river drops sideways to the left...a great boof if you get it right!

A series of drops where the river splits around a big midstream rock, with a dangerous rock blocking the obvious route.

A rocky weir with a steep left hand chute...plenty of pinning potential here?

Below the weir river steepens through two distinct rapids towards the railway viaduct, stop ABOVE this; it is the point of no return for...the Erme Gorge!

The Erme Gorge must be inspected on river right for tree blockages. When you are in, it's fast, narrow and committing...a swim would be long and probably lonely. There are two sharp right-hand bends leading to drops into undercut grottos...the 'doglegs'.

After the gorge, you may feel very mellow, but don't wind down just yet...the final falls in the centre of Ivybridge are surprisingly steep and have pinning potential. In higher water levels, you have a big stopper to avoid at the bottom too. I've seen this hole achieve the impossible...it dented in both ends of a Spud! The take-out is just below, when you reach a footbridge. Beware of carrying on over a dodgy weir beside a Sports Centre.

OTHER NOTES: I've had umpteen runs on this river, but it never gets dull...a personal favourite!

Downstream the river is easier, but still continuous.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Steve Brooks, Dillon Hughes, Anthony Reed, Paul Bray and Andrew Crompton.

 

 

Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: River Erme - Harford Bridge to Ivybridge -- Rustyjake
2015 Jan 13 08:14:54 PM
Hi all



Was wondering if anyone had paddled this lately? Planning on going this weekend (17/01/15), haven't paddled it in a while.



Any news on trees, levels, access etc



Cheers



Rusty
Re: River Erme - Harford Bridge to Ivybridge -- paddle_like_krazy
2014 Nov 16 02:57:07 PM
Now the council have replaced the curb and pavement below the viaduct please be respectful of locals and visitors, especially when parking. Please try to avoid blocking the pavement with kit/boats and cars etc, also avoid parking directly opposite the driveway as this causes the gentleman who lives there a lot of trouble getting in and out of his driveway. Currently the council are very supportive of paddling on the Erme, but they will quickly change their tune if we cause them a headache.

Cheers.
Re: River Erme - Harford Bridge to Ivybridge -- Simon Westgarth
2013 Nov 06 10:07:40 PM
This evening, a river wide tree was trapped in the second dog leg drop in the Erme gorge. The tree was just below the surface at the apex of the move in the drop, when the river level was 0.78 on the gauge.
Re: River Erme - Harford Bridge to Ivybridge -- Mark Dixon
2013 Jan 01 06:31:28 PM
http://vimeo.com/56385828

Erme at 0.7, nice medium flows
Re: 2 trees on Erme just above viaduct -- PhilBeans
2012 Apr 30 09:55:08 AM
Yea, we saw these yesterday morning too.

Probably worth a quick scout on the way up to the get in. But as you say, easily avoidable.

Phil
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