GUIDE TO THE RIVER FROME
(Woolverton to Freshbrook)
NAME OF RIVER: Frome.
WHERE IS IT?: Somerset. Map.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Access the river from the A36 at Shawford Bridge (ST 793535) near Woolverton. There is hardly any parking here; shuttle excess vehicles to the takeout. Take out either at Iford Bridge (ST 801589) opposite the gorgeous Iford Manor or two kilometres further on at Freshford Inn Bridge (ST 791599). Both takeouts involve leaving the river on river left below the respective bridge. .
APPROX LENGTH: 5 or 6 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 2 hours.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: If the river is brown with a noticeable flow then it should be a good trip. The river is not worth running in low or summer water levels. I have run the trip successfully in all conditions, but if it is at bank level or above then take caution.
GRADING: Grade 1 with several unusual weirs.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Lots of weirs.
Gary Brazier (2007) ... 'I spoke today to the chap who owns the hydro plant, he is very pro kayaking. However now that hardly any water goes over the weir the weir is getting covered in a slippery/slimy growth. He is concerned if someone (especially young paddlers) were to slip and hurt them selves as they climb down the weir face. He has contacted the EA (and other, but did not say who) to try and get clarification on where the liability would lie, similarly if someone portaged over his land and they hurt themselves - could he be sued. There is no simple answer, you could portage river right through the field as he does not own this land (better route anyhow), but someone does! Some of us did manage to drop over the weir (once we managed to pivot over the wall that has been built along the top of the weir), but you only end up walking down the river to where the out let from the hydro plant flows because there is not enough water!'
Martin Harrall (Nov 2005)...'I was told at the weekend, that the weir at Tellisford has had a small wall built on top of it in order to increase the amount of water flowing through the hydro-electric turbines. Now the whole river flows through the turbines unless the river is running very high. This means a fairly lengthy portage. I haven't paddled the river this season yet to check it out for myself though. Shouldn't be allowed really!'
Kristian Buxton Dean on behalf of Frome Canoe Club www.frome-canoe-club.org.uk (December 2002)...'Over the past 3 months the Somerset River Frome has gained a hydroelectric generator on the mill leat at the weir just below the Langham Farm Slalom Site. The work for this has resulted in the clearance and expansion of this channel. This now means that unless the water level is high, this weir is dry and the following 200m+ is not paddleable. Currently we are not aware of any plans to change this. Paddling down the mill leat is not an option as it travel through gardens before entering the generator (not boat or paddlers friendly!).'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A few hundred meters after the get in the river flows over the first weir, which in my opinion is the most hazardous on the trip. The weir is about a four foot straight drop, slightly curved and walled in at the ends. Shoot on the right as there is often a nasty stopper to the left, rescue can be easily set up from the right hand side.
The next weir follows soon after on a right hand bend, it is only about eighteen inches high but usually has a fun stopper to play in.
Now the river begins to get a bit more interesting, because the next obstacle is Langham Farm. Although there is a weir here, water only flows over it in high conditions. Most of the water flows past the weir and down a narrow channel before turning sharp left down a four foot wide gap with a low bridge above it. If your group has never been here before then it is probably best to get out and take a look as it can be alarming if you're not expecting it. Once in the pool below there is plenty of room to pick up the pieces and then have a play in the fast moving water.
When you have had enough of tail squirting and perhaps looping, then move on down the river over another easy sloping weir to reach the ZOOM FLUME! Here the whole river passes over a concrete flume with a very nice standing wave/stopper at the base. This is the best play spot on the river so spend some time here.
Another couple of weirs take you down to the first get out at Iford or you can paddle another mile or so down to Freshford where there is a very high weir for a final thrill. Paddle past the first weir as the second one is the higher of the two, but take care in very high water.
OTHER NOTES: This river is good as an introduction to white water but also has a couple of more interesting bits for the more experienced paddler.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Martin Harrall ( Precision Drifters CC), also Kristian Buxton Dean and Gary Brazier.