(GR 583662 to Cadover Bridge)


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:

Bruce Daykin
319/320 Faraday Trade Park
Faraday Road
Tel 01752 600722
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.



Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: Above the Upper Plym -- JohnAllan
2011 Feb 16 12:41:11 AM
If it's completely off the scale everywhere else, then I strongly recommend the 3km ish (drag in) to a Place called Eastern red lake, way above Tavy cleave. Take a compass! I've done this twice quite a long time ago. The walk in is from the end of the track at a small hut and hard stand area to the NE of Hill Bridge (east of the Tavy). Walk more or less NE, and start by following along to the right of the wall (enclosures), then more NE when on open moor. It's not as bad as it seems as the wind is bound to be blowing F5-6 from behind, and the moor so waterlogged you can drag a boat fairly easily. Start near the range signpost. Both times I've done it the road was flooded round Hill Bridge. For the 3Km walk in you potentially get about 12km of 4+ (maybe 5) paddling at that level. It gets harder when you get back into the trees at that level.

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.
Re: Above the Upper Plym -- Simon Westgarth
2011 Feb 15 10:34:26 AM
The Upper Upper Plym, West Dart, Tavy Cleeve, the East Oakment Slides and perhaps the Upper Erme, are all great flood level runs, if everything else is off your scale. Yes there is some walking, but nothing compared to elsewhere, and they are all worth the workout.
Above the Upper Plym -- hardy
2011 Feb 15 10:03:59 AM
A group of us paddled this section on Sunday 13th Feb',and i am left wondering why it is not often paddled?The more usual "Upper Plym" was very high,even for a couple of "extreme" boaters in our group,IE the river at Cadover bridge and above looked a very decent grade 2 paddle.We elected to follow the guide book directions to access upstream and egress at Cadover Bridge.The description in the guide is as exactly as we found it.The walk in is best part of a mile,but not steep,just a gentle slope,once at the hill crest a steeper descent takes you to the river.The river,for at was a river, was in full spate and very fast.First km' was grade 2 ish,winding through a flooded marsh at one point,shortly after this the river steepens a bit and cranks up to grade 3,picking up speed,fun.Another km' and the grade that day kicked up to grade 4,small ledges and stoppers coming at you very fast,but nothing nasty.I noticed the "fence" mentioned,and indeed it would be prudent to maybe slowdown a little and catch a few eddies,to give time to scout from the boat.Gorse bushes had started to line the banks,and occasional small trees/bushes can be seen.A tree can be seen midstream 50m or so ahead,and directly upstream of this is a 1.5m rock pillar angled to catch the unwary paddler.Our unwary paddler got caught on it,and sat there valliantly marking the left channel exit for me.We all caught the large eddy behind,freed our man,and looked at the next section.This comprise of a second tree 20m downstream,which we portaged,and a 100m run up to a 1m drop left or a dodgy boof right,just above another tree.We all ran left no problems,and after this the river eases down,with a 500m flat section to the take out.

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.
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