On Friday night as we were nearing closer to Devon the rain started to fall. At first it was pitter patter, only a few drops, but when it started to get heavy that is when the excitement started to build. Tomorrow was looking good to have good levels on the river. The forecast was rain all night.
The next morning at Newbridge Carpark we peered at the river levels. It had rained rather a lot with the river Dart level a medium high, nearly going through the third archway. At these levels it was not safe for everyone to paddle the Loop, so the decision was made to do the shuttle for the Lower Dart whilst some of the more experienced paddlers did the Loop to see what it was like (with potential for running the loop later on), meeting them at the lower Dart entry point in an hour.
For those that did the Loop that day it was big and bouncy and a whole lot of fun but after seeing that most of the eddy’s that exist when the river is lower disappeared at these levels. It confirmed that we had made the right decision, as chasing boats or a swimmer at these levels would certainly not have been fun. It was perfect timing when we got to the get-out of the loop, as they had only just completed the shuttles, and after a happy reunion everyone was on the river this time for our next adventure.
The lower dart at these levels had some good bouncy sections and was thoroughly enjoyable, although it was a little cold. We had hopes to try and do another run on the dart loop that day but time got away from us in the end, and there was not enough time to complete the run before it got dark, so hot showers and going to the Pub to watch England Vs Australia in the Rugby was our afternoon plan. After the game we had good grub in the pub ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ in Ashburton. Lots of pints later and a few games of uno, we had an early night as the plan was to make breakfast at 7:30am for an early paddle on the river.
The water had dropped quite a bit by Sunday morning with the ledge appearing again at Newbridge and low levels. This meant everyone was able to paddle the loop, and there were lots of training spots for ferry glides, break-ins and surfing. Everyone safely made it through Washing Machine and Lover’s leap but triple falls caught a couple out with 2 swims here and a few rolls, and there was 1 swim with Spin dryer and a successful roll. Ben did the seal launch in his playboat and made a big splash!
Finishing up at the dart country park is a luxury, it’s very rare to have hot showers and a cup of tea at the end of a river before the long journey back home. So we took advantage, even having a brownie with a hot chocolate, or for some the Sunday Roast lunch.
Trip Participants: Tania, Paddy, Ben, Tim, Anthony, Andy, Tamas, Zibby
Date: 24-25th Nov 2018
Tania's Photos of the trip
Written by: Tania