IOPCC Trip Report

Bolham Weir to Bickleigh White Water Trip
January 16th 2011

The New Years first White Water paddle brought high flow levels due to heavy rainfall in the preceding week leading up to the River Exe run. However, not to be put off, 7 hardy WW extremists lead once again by the clubs WW "Guru" Bertie, tackled the Bolham Weir to Bickleigh, graded as a 2 but more like a 3 with the water levels, and approx 9km in length.

Described in English White Water Guide as "a popular trip which has plenty of interest stemming from both natural rapids and notable weirs. This is probably the best white water trip to be had on the Exe".

So off we went, Buddy, Pringle24, Sibo, Damo , Andy and Tom Oughton.....putting in just up from Bolham Weir, the flow was fast and high, immediately whisking all paddlers down stream.

On arrival at Bolham Weir, a safety check was taken by all and this was portaged as it is a horrible if there is any flow in the river and has already claimed a paddlers life.

The first set of rapids immediately after Bolham weir, claimed the first swimmer of the year....and trust it to be Buddy...however, getting the wrong line on the drop he was caught and dragged over by a large, low overhanging branch. The fast flow of the river took the intrepid award winning swim-paddler downstream rapidly, however first class rescue and recovery by Bertie and Mark Damon prevented any loss or injury, just an annoyed and pride dented Buddy!

Normal service was shortly resumed and the next landmark undertaken was Salmon Ponds Weir. The weir face is unusually long and makes the equivalent of a humping Grade 3 rapid. Today was no exception.

The more experienced paddlers took the Ponds, while the others scouted around taking the sliding drops.

This was navigated safely.

As the Exe was flowing well, the stretch into Tiverton was constantly exciting with small drops, bouncy rapids and wave trains.

A while later whilst Andy Oughton was surfing a wave, he lost balance and went under. After 2 attempts to roll in the fast flow, he bailed out.

Pringle24, Buddy, Sibo and Tom all took refuge in a couple eddies, while once again Bertie and Mark expertly rescued Andy, albeit several hundred metres downriver!!!

On approach to Town Weir, in Tiverton, this has two distinct sections, again giving the impression of a long natural rapid. It was enjoyable watching Bertie, Mark, Andy and Tom take the left section, whilst the less experienced 3 took the right hand side and grabbed some photo opportunities.

Grade 2 rapids continue for some time to Broken Weir, which is a simple shoot, when lined up correctly but is in poor repair (as the name suggests). Caught by a fast flowing eddy line just after Broken Weir, Buddy cracked a 1st class roll, to whoops and applause from fellow paddlers...What No swim?!!!

The final stunt navigated by our weary posse, was Bickleigh Weir. It was intimidating watching your fellow paddler pass under the bridge and disappear from view, prior to breaking out river left and taking out.

So 7 paddlers started and 7 completed it, with a swim count of 4 and some expert rolling as well.

Who says this white water paddling isnít serious stuff and that we arenít real paddlers?!

A well deserved Latte and selection of warm glorious food was furiously devoured by all in the local bistro next to the takeout, with war stories re-told and chuckled about.

Once again another successful trip, led by Bertie.....roll on the next!


Bolham Weir
Buddy and Sibo
The most important job of the day!


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Report: Steve Budd
Pictures: Various



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