GUIDE TO THE RIVER PLYM
(GR 583662 to Cadover Bridge)
NAME OF RIVER: Plym.
WHERE IS IT?: South Dartmoor. This section of the Plym is pretty remote, near the source. Map.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: This takes a bit of effort. Drive to the end of a road at Gr 579674 and use the small car park there. Carry your boat along the track leading off to the right (SE) just before the road end is reached. The carry is approximately a mile before you reach the river next to Ditsworthy Warren House (location of the farmhouse in the movie 'War Horse'). This is some kind of military base, the track was busy with army vehicles whilst we were there. Launch where the track first comes close to the river.
Finish at Cadover Bridge (SX 556646) where there is a good car park. This is the start point for the more usual Plym trip.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 km, dropping 90 metres.
TIME NEEDED: This took about an hour, after the carry in.
ACCESS HASSLES: You are out in the sticks and aren't likely to meet objections, although note that the Army are around and have big guns.
The BCU River Adviser for the Plym is:
319/320 Faraday Trade Park
Tel 01752 600722
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This needs spate conditions, just after or during heavy rain. All rocks above and below Cadover bridge will be well covered, ideally the river will be bank full or flooding. This is not the level that most would choose for the much harder section below Cadover Bridge.
This section is a great place to be with an adventurous intermediate group when everything is really high...lots of fun, and free of tree hazards.
GRADING: Grade 3 (4)
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Dying of exposure can't be ruled out, the river is totally open to the wind across the moor. Otherwise, this is a remarkably safe trip as there are no trees up there (other than a bush near the end).
Mark Quest...'Myself and Paul Neale got this on Sunday 30/10/05 when Dartmoor was flooding like mad. An amazing trip. Starting really high up on the Moors with no one and nothing around is a magical thing. Big, bouncy, full on grade 3-4, the trees near the end require an inspection/ portage so search for eddies once you go past a fence on river right.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The valley up there is wide open, totally exposed to gales, as it happens. In a bizarre optical illusion, the river appears to flow uphill from the get-in!
Where you launch the river is a bit of a ditch, however it quickly grows in size and volume.
You bimble along a winding flat km scaring the sheep, then the valley narrows a bit and there is even gradient and continuous Grade 3 for 3 km (dropping 300 feet). There are several sections of bedrock ledges which reach grade 4 in full spate. The last kilometre flows amongst a few bushes (the first trees you see, the river is utterly open and exposed) and is mostly flat.
If there is enough water for this trip to be done comfortably, then the Plym below Cadover Bridge will be continuous grade 5 at the very least.
OTHER NOTES: I think this trip is awesome at peak levels, the bedrock riverbed generates big waves and stoppers for the full distance. Imagine spate on the Tavy (Hill Bridge to Harford Bridge section) but without the low trees...
Mark V-B (Feb 2004)...'For a slightly shorter route and if water levels are slightly lower consider driving up the east side of the river from Cadover to where it crosses a small stream and using that as a get out point. This avoids the flat (and often scratchy) last 1km. A small island 2/3 the way down needs care as there are a few trees which the river through at paddleable levels. It has been done at lower levels thou VERY scratchy. My first descent was 26/12/02.'
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Mark V-B and Mark Quest.
The West dart was a really great run on Sunday, with the EA gauge on the West Dart at 1.6m when we were there (roughly Newbridge at Bottom stone step covered, so lapping up to the first wooden step). Entertaining Grade 3-4 run, nothing too serious and much less bleak than I always expected it to be up there.
If you are fed up with the Walkham,middle Tavy,and everything is high,this is a great run,with the only hazzards in one identifyable spot,and plenty of space to recover and egress to decide if you want to run the "Upper Plym" proper just downstream.