2015 Devon Trip (aka the sausage fest)



Devon Trip Report (no girls allowed!)
Pablo “the Breaker” Ortega
Robert “I’m not cold” Clark
Willem “Captain Click&Collect” Hilbers
Adam Malagowski
Elijah Choi
Owen “Gin” Jordan
Adam Brown
Ally Cott
Mo “the transporter” Unmann
Malcolm “the author” Perry
Honourable mention: Robert “LSE food” Macrae
We assembled as usual around 5 o’clock in Beit Quad, managing to load the minibus and depart South Kensington not long after 6 for the first time in recent club memory. This was, however, to give us false hope that this trip would be the miracle of efficiency Willem and Malcolm had planned. Our first detour took us to White City, where Ally’s boat had mysteriously ended up after the bonfire paddle. An hour later, we arrived at Sainsbury’s Chiswick to find our click and collect had not materialised. We finally made it out of London around 9, after leaving Willem stranded in Sainsbury’s (fetching the all-important VAT receipt) for a while after we forgot to tell him where the bus was parked.
The journey to Dartmoor was uneventful, however trying to locate Runnage Farm took a lot longer than usual, owing to our dependence on Apple maps and its hazy definition of a “public road”, since no one had written down the three lines of directions needed (Dartmeet, Two Bridges, Postbridge then turn right, for future reference). We arrived around half 2 to find that, since we were staying in the luxury side of the farm for a change, the owners had stayed up to meet us and were understandably a little annoyed.
In the morning we decided not to run a mission on 4 hours’ sleep (especially since the Upper Dart was likely to be the only sensible option without a car to shuttle), so we had a relaxed breakfast (after a brief panic when we realised the farm hadn’t given us any cutlery) and headed straight to the Dart Loop.
The level looked reasonable at the put in, and we paddled the first (and less interesting half) of the loop in one large group, stopping for the seal launch above lover’s leap and encouraging the freshers to surf in the small wave created by the trib that comes in on the left, our only swims coming from those who mixed up left and right above Washing Machine.
It wasn’t raining on river, but it must have been above since the levels began to rise mid-afternoon. The upper drops of triple step were stoppers rather than ledges and the final rapid was a bit chunkier than some people were expecting, and it took a while for us to get everyone down safely since SUCC were getting in the way both in and out of their boats. We had a bit more faff downstream when Malcolm and Willem paddled round a corner thinking the group was good to go when three freshers simultaneously decided they were a bit too warm and fancied a dip.
After this point the usual paddle-out was a bit more exciting than we anticipated, with some issues at the strange left-hand bend/wave train combination just above the old get-out bridge with a viciously recirculating eddy. The first weir in particular was a mandatory portage unless you fancied running the left-hand chute, and the second weir was a serious hole with lines left and a right boof into an eddy. The swimming intensified towards the end with the leaders chasing past the get out in search of boats and paddles, we did however manage to all get off before it was seriously dark and with all our kit.
A chilled-out evening followed since everyone was exhausted by either the swimming or the chase-boating, with excessive quantities of chili and a gentle introduction to our favourite club pastimes of Stroh and Pingu for the freshers.
Mo, Malcolm and Willem set out about seven for the Upper Dart, and were almost certainly the first on the river, arriving shortly after sunup and getting straight on without a shuttle. It was a medium level, with most things running well except for Surprise, Surprise which was manky as usual, with both Malcolm and Mo taking dubious lines down the centre (it was probably high enough to cover the siphons…). Credit goes to Willem for head-ruddering one of the bigger rapids in the Mad Mile, having missed the more pleasant line on the left.
Finding a shuttle was not a big issue thanks to the hordes of people on the Dart that weekend, however whilst leaving the car park after tying on the boats one of the vans blocking us in bumped into another vehicle leaving us stranded while they argued it out. We got back to the hut in time for our 11am deadline and headed off to try the River Teign, helpfully described by UKRGB as a good run “for those sick to death of the Dart loop”.
We found the put-in without incident and met up with some fellow paddlers also staying at the farm, and set off in two groups through a beautiful wooded valley. The first feature of interest was a 4m weir with a spicy salmon run down the left which three of us ran, with a few onlookers watching, including a little girl who was very much entertained by Willem's misfortune in the second slot.
The rapids were tight but with very little water flowing through them making rock dodging the main difficulty. There were also some nice chutes down a few of the weirs. Some impressive carnage occurred on one of these, a sharp right hand bend, when Pablo went straight into the wall, breaking his metal TNPs but impressively still staying upright. The broken halves then had to be strapped to boats to avoid littering.
At the getout (the last of four road bridges, just below a weir) we found the guys from the top, who kindly offered us a shuttle. Overall the Teign was pleasant but with little exciting water, even at supposedly descent flows it was 1 (2) rather than the promised 2 (3). We drove back to London via Exeter (for the customary takeaway), arriving back at a civilised 11pm. All in all it was a fun trip with decent levels and a chance to paddle something new.