GUIDE TO THE RIVER TEIGN
(A382 Bridge to Steps Bridge)
NAME OF RIVER: Teign.
WHERE IS IT?: North Dartmoor. It is a large river with two significant steep tributaries, the North and South Teign.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: There is very limited roadside parking beside the A382 Bridge at SX 713893. Access the river through a gate from the footpath on river left. It is also possible to start upstream for more grade 3.
This section finishes at Steps Bridge at SX 804883. Take out directly below the bridge on river right and walk up a path to the road. There is a decent car park a hundred yards up the hill from here.
Another possible takeouts are Fingle Bridge SX743899 or Clifford Bridge, SX 782898.
APPROX LENGTH: 7 miles.
TIME NEEDED: Approx three hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: As far as I am aware, there is no access agreement. You certainly want to do this outside the fishing season; the river is lined all along by fishing spots.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The Teign has the second largest catchment area on Dartmoor, after the Dart. However one of it's two tributaries, the South Teign, is dammed. Hence, heavy rain has less effect then one might imagine.
We paddled this after a night with some heavy rain, during which the Dart had risen from 4 on the gauge to 5. It was medium-low; the weir at the takeout bridge was rocky but paddleable on river right.
High water would be fun, but care would have to be taken regarding low tree branches.
GRADING: Grade 2 (3-)
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: There is a metal bridge just below the put-in which trails steel wire and would be a hazard in flood. Plenty of low trees to avoid. In October 2002, there was a tree right across the river half a mile below Fingle Bridge.
Mark Harris (December 2002)...'An additional tree has fallen across the river approx 300 yards past Clifford Bridge. The tree has many branches straining the river and some tricky manouvering is required to squeeze through on river left. We paddled in low-medium levels, in high water this tree could be a serious hazard.'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: An enjoyable quiet trip through scenic woods. The first half is best, but grade 2 rapids appear all the way to the end.
Just below the put-in bridge, the flat river passes below an old metal bridge which has loose metal wires trailing in the river; be careful.
A mile from the put-in, the hills close in on either side and the river squeezes between two big rounded boulders...this is the dramatic point of no return for the 'Teign Gorge'. Unless of course, you walk or paddle back upstream again.
Just downstream, the river backs up behind a rather gnarly 10 foot high weir. This can be run by the fish steps on river left or portaged easily on the same bank.
Between here and Fingle Bridge is the best of the Teign, enjoy it. Continuous grade 2 paddling with small drops and boulders to negotiate. Two steep technical rapids require a fair bit of manouvering, so they are probably grade 3.
The only flat on this section is where another weir pools the current. This can be run anywhere, but has a convenient chute on river left.
The river flattens out below Fingle Bridge for a while. This lasts until a sloping weir is reached; easily paddleable. Between here and the takeout, infrequent grade 2 rapids keep the interest up. Clifford Bridge is a possible finish point. Otherwise, finish this pleasant trip by carrying on to Steps bridge and running the small weir above the bridge.
OTHER NOTES: The Teign provides an excellent alternative for those who want an easy paddle, but are sick to death of the Dart Loop; it's slightly easier but more adventurous! Further up the Teign is some more grade 3 and if you explore the North Teign, some steep creeking.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Mark Harris.
Any idea what level is "safe" to paddle this at also?
Between Dogmarsh Bridge and the salmon leap weir on the River Teign is a ruined metal bridge which tends to catch trees. I walked past there today and noticed another tree has become wedged under the bridge. At the moment the river is surprisingly low, but if the water level were to rise this bridge may become impassible. Some kayakers went through this morning, but they felt it could be a problem in a canoe. At the moment you have to duck under another tree to get through.
Although there are various parts of trees stuck in the gorge section all are passable relatively easily with care.
The only issue is further downstream just before Cliffords Bridge. A tree has come down which blocks all bar a boat-width extreme river right. It was not an issue at this water level; in higher water I suspect you would float over the top , but at lower water it could be more of an problem for the beginners groups/uni fresher trips who might use this river. It is visible from a long way upstream and there is plenty of room to stop an inspect if in any doubt.
We paddled this section over the weekend (14-15/01/2012), in what can only be described as low levels, a few bumps and scraps but still worth the paddle. The EA Gauge at Clifford Bridge was at around the 0.65m – 0.68m marker, which was about 2-3 inches below the stepping stones mention at the confluence. It was a very pleasant paddle as it was a totally new river to us and we wanted to scout it before bringing a group down it.
It is really worth mentioning that on the section below the 10ft weir, there was a river wide tree blocking the river just below the Grd 3 as section mentioned in the guide. In low / very low water you can limbo underneath it, without too much of an issue. HOWEVER in medium to high water it would be a different situation and could be fatal if there was anything caught underneath the tree. The blockage is on a blind corner with very little eddies leading up to it; so care should be taken once you pass through.
As a reference to the water levels, if the small shingle reef (below the stanchion) on the left of the photo, is covered, you are in for a good days paddling.
Stay safe and happy paddling