GUIDE TO THE RIVER TAVY
(Tavy Cleave to Hill Bridge)
NAME OF RIVER: Tavy.
WHERE IS IT?: On west Dartmoor, flowing down to the sea past Tavistock.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The normal put-in is at Hill Bridge (SX532803) but this describes an extended trip. Park at the carpark at SX537824. Check to see if the red MOD range flag is flying! Carry your boats along the track heading east past a farm and into the Tavy valley. After nearly a mile you will reach a 'leat' artificial stream which you can drop your boats into and tow them alongside up the valley. When we did this, we put in at SX549829 (3 miles upstream of Hill Bridge). Many people have carried on way past this point but this is as high as I have been. Tavy Cleave is a narrow gorge upstream of here, which is supposed to be fun.
You will certainly want to continue down the normally paddled section...take out at Harford bridge or in Tavistock where there are all sorts of parking possibilities.
APPROX LENGTH: 2 miles.
TIME NEEDED: 2 hours or more.
ACCESS HASSLES: If you do this section, you are entering an MOD firing range. A red flag flying means that you will have to dodge incoming ordnance. Seriously, the land is CLOSED when the flags are flying.
The BCU River Adviser for the Tavy is:
319/320 Faraday Trade Park
Tel 01752 600722
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It needs to rain heavily to make this worth doing; the Tavy needs to be high at Hill Bridge.
Bill Mattos (15/2/02)...'The Tavy, is in full flood every damn time it rains these days - up in the trees, very few stable eddies. And that's probably only 1.5 ft higher on the Tavistock gauge than its normal low (unpaddleable) level. I think the Tavy is a more difficult, dangerous and challenging river than Dartmeet when high, partly cos it has many blind drops you'd be insane to run without inspecting, if you'd never done it before.'
GRADING: This upper section is technical Grade 4.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees in the river. Low branches. Incoming ordnance.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From the put-in described, there are several steep, technical and rocky 'pin-ball' Grade 4 rapids to negotiate, with low tree branches being a particularly annoying hazard. A final straight section leads down to Hill Bridge.
From here, the classic section of the Tavy begins.
OTHER NOTES: This is a trip for completists really...the effort of carrying and the amount of tree-dodging aren't to all tastes. Anybody paddled it from further up?
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Bill Mattos.
The 2nd steep rapid after leaving the moor has just enough space to firmly wedge a Mamba on the left - even with 3 ropes attached we couldn't shift it, took best part of an hour to get it moving.