(Mark's Bridge to Yealmpton)

NAME OF RIVER: River Yealm.

WHERE IS IT?: South Dartmoor in Devon; it's between the Erme and Plym valleys. Map.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Launch from a bridge on a track near Mark’s Bridge (SX 602 572). Parking is limited here.

Leave a car for the shuttle on Church Lane in Yealmpton (SX 578 516).

APPROX LENGTH: 8 kilometres.

TIME NEEDED: 3 hours?


WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This should be paddleable after moderate rain.

Gauge: Check from Yealm Bridge (in Yealmbridge, SX 590 519). It should be clear whether the river is floatable. If the weir beneath is looking sticky and dangerous, you perversely have a good speed you through the flat sections.

GRADING: Grade 1/2 with weirs.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Low trees. Weirs.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The lower Yealm is an attractive river, albeit with infrequent whitewater interest.

The Yealm is joined by the Piall River directly after the put-in, notably increasing its size. The Piall turns the Yealm milky, as it drains a large area of china clay workings. A large sloping weir follows, and then a flat stretch through woodland with a few downed trees to dodge. In 2012 a downed tree just upstream of the bridge in Lee Mill was an awkward portage; perhaps check beforehand to see if this will be a problem.

The Yealm passes under the A38 and over a tiny weir. Enjoy the next couple of kilometres, as they are the best of this run; grade 1 and 2 rapids wind through quiet woods.

After the woods are left behind, you’ll see a large building on river left, Worston Mill. 400 metres below is a nasty stepped weir beneath a low footbridge. Portage on river left.

Yealm Bridge has another unenticing weir lurking beneath, but if you don’t want to portage on river right, consider the great sneak route through the side tunnel!

The final kilometre is mostly flat. After passing under the bridge in Yealmpton, egress on river right where the river bends sharp left. Walk though the public park up the hill to the church. If you continue the kilometre or so to the Yealm estuary, you’ll have to negotiate at least one more weir.  

OTHER NOTES: The upper section is much more exciting.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.