RIVER AND TRIP CATEGORIES
Below is a loose categorisation of rivers and trips. If you are new to the sport, then it’s vital you progress logically from easy onwards. We don’t want you to have a bad experience by unwittingly taking on something you don’t yet have the skills for. If you are already skilled and experienced, we can discuss with you what you want to do and help make it happen.
Easy River Trips
- Introductory paddles from Bideford steps on the Torridge estuary, using the tide.
- Torridge descents from Wear Gifford, etc.
- Taw upstream from Barnstaple, using the tide flow and ebb to ‘go with the flow’.
Note: these trips tend to be organised as conditions and demand require, so not part of the main programme.
Improver River Trips
- Torridge from Beaford or Sheepwash
- Taw from Kings Nympton to Umberleigh. Both these trips feature stronger flows, riffles and simple class 1 rapids
- Bolham to Tiverton or Bolham to Bickleigh (Exe)
- Black Cat to Bolham (Exe)
- Lower Exe, from Four Pines into Exeter
- Lower Dart, from River Dart Country Park to Buckfastleigh
- Tamar from Horsebridge to Gunnislake. Long flat sections with several optional weirs.
- Barle, from Tarr Steps to Dulverton (These stretches of the Exe and Barle are class 1 to class 2)
Proficient River Trips
- Dart Loop, from New Bridge to RDCP. Class 2 with some class 3.
- Middle Tavy, class 2 to 3+
- Middle section of East Lyn, Watersmeet to below Myrtleberry, class 2 and 3, with portage of one drop.
- Teign, from Dogmarsh Bridge to Fingle Bridge or on to Clifford Bridge. Described as ‘slightly easier than the Loop but more adventurous’ class 2/3
- Walkham, from Huckworthy Bridge all the way to the Tavy confluence, class 1-3
- Plym from Shaugh Prior, class 2/3, 3+ in higher flows,
Any of the Improver trips in higher water flows become proficient trips. i.e. faster currents and less thinking time.
Expert river trips
- Upper Dart, class 3 to 4
- East Lyn, class 3 to 4+
- Erme, class 3 to 4 (All these rivers get harder with high water)
- East Okement, Upper Teign, Upper Walkham, Avon etc. All harder rivers which only work in high water for small expert groups
Note: these trips tend to be organised among known expert paddlers rather than widely advertised, but new people with proven skills are welcome.
RIVER GRADING SYSTEM
Grade I: Moving water, unobstructed and without technical difficulties. There may be small waves and riffles to amuse the paddler.
Grade II: Waves, small stoppers and other minor obstructions to avoid. Eddies and cushion waves may be strong. Route finding straight forward.
Grade III: Waves, stoppers and technical difficulties are more severe. There may be drops and powerful constrictions. The main distinguishing factor of Class 3 water is that the paddler will have to follow a recognisable route to avoid obstacles and hazards.
Grade IV: Severe waves, drops, stoppers and other obstructions. The route is not easily recognisable and will usually require careful inspection from the boat or bank and confident white water skills. Class 4 encompasses a wide range of rivers, from those with pool-drop rapids to those with extended continuous rapids; so there is a huge variation in difficulty. It is common to distinguish easier grade 4 rapids by grading them as 4- and harder rapids as 4+ (or in some cases, 3/4 or 4/5).
Grade V & VI…well we will leave those to your imagination! See UK Rivers Guide Book for details.