GUIDE TO THE RIVER WALKHAM
(Bedford Bridge to Tavy Confluence)
NAME OF RIVER: Walkham.
WHERE IS IT?: It flows from high on Dartmoor to join the Tavy below Tavistock.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: There is a nice warmup section above this. This section starts at Bedford Bridge, GR 504704.
APPROX LENGTH: 4 km, plus a final 3 km on the Tavy.
TIME NEEDED: About two hours.
Chris Fawcett...'We accessed at Bedford Bridge (parked by the toilets away from the road) no problem. Egressed at Denham Bridge (parked in Forestry car park which is accessed down a track on your LHS after crossing Denham Bridge no problem. Encountered "angry man" on footbridge where the Tavy joins the Walkham marked on the os map as "Double Waters" shouting that we should not be canoeing the river and wanted our names. We acknowledged him and politely carried on. No other problems encountered. If you can float a boat at Bedford Bridge the river can be paddled although low. We paddled on Sunday 19th January 2003 after a night of rain.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: We paddled after a night of rain and had enough water to float comfortably from the launch point; medium-low conditions. This was plenty for the sections downstream.
Dave Surman paddled the river in spate and described enjoyable bouncy grade 3 conditions.
GRADING: This trip starts at grade 1-2. The final 2 kms are nearly continuous Grade 3-, with a single grade 3+ rapid. There is also one significant grade 3 rapid on the Tavy.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: There is a sticky weir on the Tavy.
Mike Moxon (Jan 2004)...'Just a note to warn about a tree - this one is at the bottom of the first grade 3 bit on the Lower Walkham, it is immediately below the small step (descibed as 1m high, but nearer a foot) it is obvious, but not from the start of the rapid, and impossible to avoid at decent flows - it would be quite easy to remove the top branch, but then the rest would be potentially more dangerous as it would be hidden just below the surface - anyone fancy some major tree surgery?'
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Below Bedford Bridge, occasional grade 2 rapids keep interest going. The scenery is pleasant; a wooded valley with little evidence of civilisation.
After you pass under a bridge with helpful 'NO SWIMMING' signs all around, the river changes dramatically. It steepens over a series of small ledges and forms a long grade 3- rapid which finishes with a sharp 1 metre drop. Collect your wits, as there are now mostly continuous rapids between here and the Tavy; this is a remarkable section of water at the grade. The river narrows and is confined by bedrock banks, forming numerous eddies along the banks; indeed this section is excellent for a small group learning to 'eddyhop' down a river.
The only slightly tricky bit is near the end, where the valley opens out with fields on either side. Much of the river disappears down an unconvincing looking slot leading into a twisty rapid. This will make a few people practice their roll!
The river now leads down to the Tavy which has more entertainment awaiting...
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Chris Fawcett and Mike Moxon.
Couple of hazards of note:
Otherwise trees are down in a few places but no others are blocking whole river and all easily negotiated. Also worth nothing, blockage noted in previous posting has now been cleared.
The river is also still totally blocked at Magpie bridge (also known as Gem bridge), no exit right due to barbed wire, easy portage left.
The weir on the Tavy (Dentist Weir) has totally collapsed, there are a lot of obsticals in the water including metal bars. The EA are working there and it should be clear in the next few days, portage left if not clear.
It looks well lodged and will take some effort to shift.