River SUP paddling in the UK is quite a new discipline to the stand up paddle boarding portfolio. Kayakers and rafters have been doing it well for years. Please take the rivers seriously, always seek advice if you aren’t sure. A lot of the Devonshire river’s are susceptible to flash flooding. There are some great guides on the internet that explain the river grading system in more detail and give you an idea what to expect when running them.
Here are some basic facts on river features
Rapids – White-water river’s consist of rapids. A rapid is a series of white-water river features that are strung together. While it could refer to just a wave or two, the word rapid generally refers to 3 or more connected river features in a section of river.
Continuous White-water – When a kayaker uses the word continuous to denote a section of river or the river itself it means that there are no breaks in the action. Like river classification, rivers and rapids can also be called continuous independent of each other.
Pool – A pool of water is a section of river with no rapids and with very slow moving water in it. It usually refers to a smaller area that consists of this characteristic.
Flat-water – Flat-water is a section of river that contains no rapids. This does not however mean that there is no current. The river can still be moving rather quickly and still be flat.
Wave – A wave is a white-water river feature that is formed due to a boulder or underwater ledge that forces the water rushing over it to push up at the surface. As a wave increases in size it will actually “break” or fall over causing the froth that gives white-water its name.
Wave Train – A wave train is a series of waves in succession. Wave trains usually consist of three or more waves. The effect of paddling through a wave train is often that of riding a roller coaster.
Hole or Recirculation – A hole is a white-water river feature that forms as the river flows over an obstruction that is usually near or above the surface of the water. As the water pours over that boulder it causes a recirculation on the other side. This recirculation, or hole, is a frothy and aerated feature that actually flows or pushes upstream. This means that kayaks, canoes, and rafts can actually get stopped and stuck in holes. As the river flows downstream the hole will be “holding” the paddler as it pushes him or her upstream.
Eddy – An eddy is a section of water that forms behind exposed boulders and on the sides of rivers around bends. As the river flows by these areas it creates an effect that causes the water in the eddy to flow up stream. Eddys are usually calm spots that a paddler can rest in while the rest of the river flows downstream.
Drop and Ledge – There are ledges on rivers which serve as a shelf to the next level of the river. Ledges up to a few feet are also called drops because the kayak, SUP, or raft drops to the next level of the river.
Waterfall – A waterfall is a ledge or drop that is more than just a few feet. While this is subjective, drops of over 10 feet are usually called waterfalls.
Line – Very generically, a line in white-water is the path that the paddler will want to take through any rapid, wave, hole, or other river feature.
There also some great standing waves or play waves in the South West, these are Hayle Sluice, Saltford Weir (River Avon) Bristol, River Dart New Bridge and the River Stour Blanford in Dorset. These are great to practice your river surfing skills or if you haven’t got time to commit to an entire days river paddling.