GUIDE TO THE RIVER NORTH TEIGN
(Upper Section to Footbridge)
NAME OF RIVER: North Teign.
WHERE IS IT?: North Dartmoor. It is the larger tributary of the Teign.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: This trip starts 370 metres above sea level on open moorland, where a popular footpath crosses the North Teign at an ancient Clapper Bridge. To get to this spot (GR 654871) you need to drive up the south side of the valley from Chagford to reach the end of the road at Batworthy. Here there is good parking outside a farm entrance. Wondering where the river is? It's a mile away on the other side of the hill. Walk up the track beside the farm. Once past the farm, the track veers right and heads downhill to meet the river at the aforementioned clapper bridge. If the river is up, then this will be a boggy squelch across the moor.
A takeout is possible up a footpath from the bridge at GR 671875, but you are unlikely to use it. If you've made it this far, you'll certainly want to carry on down the vastly better following section of the North Teign.
APPROX LENGTH: 2.5 kilometres.
TIME NEEDED: Two hours of purgatory.
ACCESS HASSLES: It is highly unlikely that you'll encounter access problems (or for that matter, anybody) on this remote section of river.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Recent or even current heavy rain is needed to make this happen. You are right on the moor and not far from the source; expect it to run off quickly.
It is difficult to judge what the water will be doing once you arrive at the start of this section, but a glance at the gauge rocks for the following section of the North Teign is the best clue you'll get; that and the amount of wet stuff currently dropping out of the sky.
GRADING: Grade 4+.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees from hell. At one point I couldn't see where the others had gone. I heard a loud *thump* and saw some trees moving; that way down, then. We paddled this section so that you never have to.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Most definitely one for masochists, involving a slog across open moor, very steep bouldery drops and some rather strenuous wrestling with trees.
Directly from the Clapper bridge, the river is steep and boulder strewn. Things are clearly heading downhill, so full spate might be a suicide mission. This is pure pinball paddling where elbow pads and a sense of humour are essential equipment.
Sadly, this section becomes increasingly arduous as you descend into the valley. You will find yourself making portages around, over and under trees on several occasions. By the time you reach an old footbridge (not marked on maps), the gradient eases and the tree hazard becomes silly; every rapid will involve an element of tree dodging. Although the rapids at this point are not technically hard, mistakes are likely to result in a beating from an Ent.
Eventually you reach the second, newer footbridge which offers a possible egress. Things get vastly better from this point (honestly!) and pushing on is recommended.
OTHER NOTES: An Arborealist's wet dream.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.