GUIDE TO THE RIVER PLYM

 (Bickleigh Bridge to Plym Bridge)

NAME OF RIVER: Plym.

WHERE IS IT?: South Devon, on the outskirts of Plymouth. Map. OS sheet: Landranger 201.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Launch from Bickleigh Bridge (SX 529618) where parking is limted, or better still, paddle the more challenging section above first.

Finish at Plym Bridge (SX 524587). Note that whilst it isn’t possible to drive across the bridge, you can drive shuttle on either bank and there are car parks on both sides.

APPROX LENGTH: 3.5 kilometres.

TIME NEEDED: 1 hours.

ACCESS HASSLES: None noted.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This is paddleable at a fairly low level, some days after rain. However, it is best when the sections of the Plym upstream are paddleable. 

It should be easy to judge whether there is enough water to paddle. However, water should be flowing through at least three arches at Plym Bridge for a scrape-free run.

GRADING: 2.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Weirs.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:  The Plym has lost most of its energy as it approaches the sea, but there are still plenty of easy rapids. The valley is particularly attractive, rather surprising given that you are practically in Plymouth.

Leaving Bickleigh Bridge behind, the Plym winds between small crags with intermittent rapids. There is little sign of civilisation, although the surrounding woodland occasionally permits glimpses of overgrown industrial ruins.

The Plym pools up behind a weir with three chutes, safe to run at most levels. Inspect from the path which follows the river closely on river right throughout. After the weir the river is flat for a while; in spring 2013 a huge tree had barred the whole river requiring a simple portage. A second weir should cause few problems unless the river is particularly high.

The final kilometre sees the riverbanks close in; bouncy waves carry you beneath a viaduct and down towards Plym Bridge. The chutes underneath the bridge form a good spot to learn or practice basic whitewater skills. When you’ve finished playing here, climb out up the bank on river right.

OTHER NOTES: A lovely wind-down.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.