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White Water Kayaking Guide to Devon

Devon has some of the best white water in England in a fairly small area. The attractive paddling of all grades is centred on and around Dartmoor National park. A large granite plateau and wilderness area in the centre of the county. The granite bedrock allows for river basins that are quick to react to rainfall. The more boggy areas of the moor help hold good water table levels to give a slow run off. There is more white water to the north of the county on Exmoor but the rivers there are mostly actually in Somerset. (Lyn, Barle, Horeoak)

White Water Map Devon White Water Kayaking Exe White Water Kayaking Dart  

The River Exe is the largest river in the east of the county buts starts is journey in Somerset. The Exe offers lots of sections of reliable white water of a lower grade compared to the more westerly drainages. The upper Exe reaches are shallower grade 2 trips through wildlife rich countryside and steep wooded valleys.

The most popular section through the town of Tiverton to the north of Exeter was once the start of a big race, The Exe Descent. Unfortunately this race no longer runs but the river is still enjoyed by many as a club trip or for introducing paddlers to the joys of white water.

White Water Kayaking on the Exe.


The most famous kayaking river in Devon, if not England is the River Dart; here you have something for every one. Easy introductory white water in its lower reaches up to grade 4 white water on the Upper sections with high flows challenging the most skilful paddlers.

Easy access and regular good flows make this a top destination. At the weekend the car park at Newbridge is always full of boaters having fun. If its peace and quiet you are after we suggest you go else where!

The Upper Dart Starts at Dartmeet and is a long and committing section of world class white water. Finish at Newbridge which is also the start of the famous "Loop".

The Loop section, so called because of the shape the river makes through the valley is a fantastic section of river for the intermediate paddler looking to progress.

Please be aware of the new honesty box at Newbridge carpark. A donation of £1.00 is suggested to help with the upkeep of the very useful toilet block there.
White Water Kayaking on the Dart.


The Tavy is almost as big a draw as the Dart and is more attractive to those still learning to handle a kayak in white water. From Tavistock downstream the river is usually runnable, even when the upper stretches are too low. The Upper section of the Tavy in high water is a serious undertaking and easily as difficult as a low water Upper Dart trip. Even higher on the river the Tavy Cleave is a steep moorland spate run. Paddled only occasionally.

The River Tavy below Hill bridge (the normal get out for the upper section) is an excellent to Grade 2/3 white water and the weirs on the river all have portable routes, should you not feel confident enough to attempt them.

For more information on river levels visit our Water levels page. Devon and Somerset river levels guide




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