GUIDE TO THE RIVER LYD

(Upper Section to Lydford)

NAME OF RIVER: Lyd.

WHERE IS IT?: It's on the western edge of Dartmoor, north of Tavistock. Landranger 201. Map.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The Lyd can be accessed by driving up a track beside the Fox and Hounds pub (GR 526867) on the A386 north of Tavistock. From the end of the track there is a 300 metre walk to the river.

Egress is above or below where the Lyd flows under the A386. Parking is limited and you may have to carry your boat up the road some way.

APPROX LENGTH: 3 kilometres.

TIME NEEDED: 1-2 hours.

ACCESS HASSLES: Few (if any) paddlers have been on this section of the Lyd. No objections have been recorded.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The Lyd is a tiny river with limited catchment requiring very heavy rain to be paddleable.

There should at least be enough water to float at the start but as much as possible is needed to make this worthwhile.

GRADING: Grade 4.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees galore, barbed wire fences.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Lyd is a spate river with sharp variations in difficulty and quality. The Lyd is a tiny river with room for only a couple of paddlers. The river winds calmly through gorgeous scenery for the first kilometre. Things then change drastically; the bottom drops out of the river and there is a series of continuous small rocky waterfalls with only micro-eddies to break up the gradient; very unusual on Dartmoor. This is fun.

As the last significant drop is reached, trees suddenly encroach on the river and spoil the fun. A short portage is needed but things are a bit messy from here on. You have a choice. There is soon a footpath on river right which will take you to the finish 800 metres away. If you choose to paddle on there are a few more small drops but more tree dodging is required and a combined wire fence and tree block has to be portaged. Be careful as you approach the A386 bridge. It is possible to takeout well above on river right and walk to the road. As you get nearer to the bridge, the sides and gradient steepen and you are forced inexorably into the tunnel. Assuming that the tunnel is clear of trees, you get to experience something akin to the start of the River Erme gorge. In darkness.

Carrying on further is not recommended. More wire fences encroach on the river, there are few good egress points and before long, the Lyd enters the awesome Lydford Gorge. This potholed nightmare is lethally unpaddleable (the bottom half can be walked up and paddled at grade 3+) and access is dubious. It may be possible to carry down the popular White Lady waterfall path to paddle several kilometres of easy water in lovely surroundings. Has anybody paddled the lower sections of the Lyd?

OTHER NOTES: An adventurous experience for a small group when the nearby Tavy is too high?

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.