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
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
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
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
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
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!