River East Lyn - Watersmeet to the Sea

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River East Lyn - Watersmeet to the Sea

Post by Mark R » Sat Sep 13, 2008 4:13 pm

Last edited by Mark R on Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:30 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by pete thorn » Tue Sep 23, 2008 8:19 pm

This is 2 years out of date. Please update with the agreement I will eail to you. Thanks.
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Post by Mark R » Tue Sep 23, 2008 8:57 pm

Pete, as I've told you more than once, I will get around to it when I'm ready. At least now I'm close to being able to concentrate on just the SW as I've sorted out editors for the other regions.

In the meantime, you now have the facility to post your opinions on the East Lyn Access situation right away, right here - be my guest!

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Post by pete thorn » Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:00 am

I am happy to provide an updated version of this page and will send it in for you to check and place. Don't see why you should have to do it all.
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Post by Mark R » Wed Oct 08, 2008 6:19 pm

Why not just post the info here in the meantime?
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Post by pH » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:48 pm

Here you go guy's, Hopefully this is as it currently stands. just copied and pasted it from Pete Thorn's post a while back. Myself and Mr Butcher headed up today and did some tree pruning with the folding saw on the last two drops in the gorge. It all goes now although there's still a few twiggy bit's on right side of the second last.

Quote

The info about the East Lyn on this site has not yet been updated so please note:

-the river adviser is no longer Scott Varker; I took over last season.

-the Watersmeet to Lynmouth section is available from 1 October to 28 Feb

-there have been a lot of trees down across the river, but the National Trust say they will all be removed by today.

-no permits are required and there is no limit on numbers of groups. You are advised to paddle in small well equipped groups as this can be a tough run. It will help me monitor how much use the river gets if you email me to say you are doing it. This helps counter claims that 'hundreds' of people are paddling it.

-I hope Mark can create a link to the new agreement which gives info about low water access to the gorge.

-The upper stretch of the East Lyn has no access agreement and this is a sensitive issue with some riparian owners. Discussions are taking place and an agreement may prove possible in due course. In the meantime, continued access will not help those negotiations and paddlers are advised to stick with the Watersmeet to Lynmouth section.

You can email me on peterthorn7@aol.com

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Post by jmmoxon » Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:40 pm

Lots of big cut branches alongside most of river, so be careful after the next flood.

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by pete thorn » Sat May 02, 2009 7:22 pm

Please note the following statement. It's a mixture of news, mainly good, but has an important issue to be resolved. Andy Green and I are meeting National Trust officers on 3 June. NT officers are being very supportive of canoeing but are experiencing a lot of local challenges. We need to keep their support by respecting their current requests.

‘Canoe Access on the East Lyn River:
Negotiations with the National Trust have resulted in the likelihood of year round paddling on the East Lyn. This steep and difficult river is one of the best hard white water rivers in England, so attracts relatively small numbers of experienced and skilled paddlers. Up to now, an agreement with the NT and two other riparian owners has resulted in winter paddling from 1 October to the end of February.
During the last two exceptionally wet summers, a few paddlers descended the river, taking care not to disturb any anglers. There were no complaints and the NT has very reasonably agreed in principle to agree to summer paddling, subject to a minimum level. This is being fixed and will be available online through a recently installed webcam.
This development is being viewed as an ‘arrangement’ rather than an agreement, as an agreement with the BCU cannot represent all paddlers.
However, this development has not been without its critics and concern has been expressed about possible environmental impact.
To that end, Natural England is being requested by conservation interests to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). It will look more widely at recreational activity impact in a Special Area of Conservation. Until this issue is satisfactorily resolved, the National Trust takes the view there can be no canoeing on the East Lyn. Being the summer, with little likelihood of river levels being high enough, there is no immediate impact on canoeing. Further information will follow when the EIA has been completed.’

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by morsey » Fri May 08, 2009 3:15 pm

Pete what has happened since February? You were giving assurances that there would be no objection for paddling during the fishing season between 10am and 6pm, subject to water levels.
What is the official BCU/CE input in this matter and in particular what is the response to being told that NT state there can be no canoeing until the issue is satisfactorily resolved? (I am expecting to see something with Andy Green's name and BCU/CE logo, I have searched both websites and found absolutely nothing!)
What time scale has been set for any restriction?
Who is carrying out the study?
Who is funding the study?
What is the EA stance?
What other activities are being restricted during the study period?
What is the input from BCU head office on this issue and in particular with discussions with NT and NE at national level?
What authority does Natural England have to restrict access?
Is the East Lyn not supposed to be one of the BCU "flag ship" rivers following the Greta, Waveney and Mersey patterns? If so is the continued stalling of the access along the length of the river not simply providing even more proof that voluntary agreements are impracticable and unworkable?

Also were we not told there would be a webcam (supposedly live in March!) to give us current information about the water level (Not that the EA could just give us the live river data)?

Seeing as though we are continually let down with time scale and deadlines on the issues of access to the full length of the East Lyn, I shall set a time scale for expected full response to the above questions: 10th June 2009

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by pete thorn » Sat May 09, 2009 4:49 pm

Yes it's frustrating isn't it? The webcam is in and works fine but is not up yet as gauge board not yet fixed, and won't be until this is resolved.
The NT officers are still fine about the 'arrangement', not agreement, for reasons stated. They have to consult with major partners, such as the Exmoor Society, which has raised objections. The Natural England issue was not an expected one, as the BCU has had a Memorandum of Understanding with them for some years. The requirement for a EIA is quite unexpected, as they are designed simply for changes in agricultural usage or land boundary changes. See NE's website.
Frankly, we don't know what form the EIA takes, but Andy is working with senior people in NE to build on existing good relationships. I don't know who is carrying out the study but I expect NE will pay for it. There is no intrinsic change on the river, as canoeing has been there for 20 years.
However, NE do have statutory powers which NT feel they need to respect. We have a meeting on 3 June at which all the main players will be present, I believe, including the Nat Park (supportive) EA (supportive) and NE. I can't be sure of the outcome but am optimistic this will be resolved over the summer. If it all works out, we will have year round paddling on at least part of the river.
We have discussed with NT officers our view that the legal position on access is confused and we don't accept the traditional interpretation. Their legal advice is contrary so we have to agree to disagree. It won't be fully resolved till there is a court case, which nobody wants to get involved in. This is the next best thing, where paddlers are accepted and canoeing is restricted only by water levels and consideration for other river users.
Nobody said this was easy Morsey. You can set arbitrary dates for response; I will tell you what emerges when I know.
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by Mark Allen » Sat May 09, 2009 6:21 pm

Not sure I agree with not paddling the Lyn on someones say so?

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by meatballs » Sat May 09, 2009 11:21 pm

TBH I, like thousands of other paddlers, don't read the forums so I don't have a clue about this no paddling malarky! ;)
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by morsey » Sun May 10, 2009 12:30 am

Thanks for the reply Pete. I really do think Andy Green needs to put his name to a response soon so that any potential conflict can be avoided. (The date was set seven days after the meeting you noted previously, with the purpose to avoid having to wait several months for a reply in focus as that would not be acceptable, especially considering how fickle the summer weather can be!)



BTW for those who do not live in the West Country it is traditional that at least one deluge of summer rain will coincide with the Glastonbury Festival. The others normally arrive on a bank holiday.

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by Chas C » Sun May 10, 2009 9:57 am

My own view is that Pete is doing a great job, this kind of work all takes time and a lot of patience - something not all of us can manage nor undertake.

Setting dates is great but when your negotiating its almost impossible to make them stick or be in a position where you can add more pressure on the other parties (also considering the number being negotiated with) in the manner being suggested above. It can be frustrating for those waiting, but I'd lay odds that Pete feels that more than anyone else.

Whether you agree or not, or will paddle anyway, is your own choice - but my support goes to Pete where he is trying to get in place a water level based "understanding" and a web cam plus level indicator so we can see it before travelling.

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by Mark R » Sun May 10, 2009 3:24 pm

pete thorn wrote:If it all works out, we will have year round paddling on at least part of the river.
You acknowledged in the same paragraph that we've enjoyed this for 20 years+.

Nobody at all should kid themselves here - let's call it what it is - you are asking for an Access Agreement - universally acknowledged to be a failed strategy.

Seriously - sell me on why we should care either way. Will any of this in any way whatsoever impact on what paddlers are already doing and have been doing for decades?
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by jmmoxon » Sun May 10, 2009 8:46 pm

Unfortunately Natural England do have the power to ban us from rivers and bring court cases against paddlers - much better to try and bring them onside if we can - if the Lyn can be seen as a proven example of paddlers not causing problems on rivers then it strengthens our case for access across the country & if this does not go our way then we end up no worse off than we already are. However if we show that we don't have any respect for the "powers that be" or the wildlife along the river, by paddling whatever, then the chances of getting access legislation through the government are reduced by the fact that Natural England will have a case against us.

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by meatballs » Sun May 10, 2009 8:54 pm

Or they take a case against us and lose - which is then getting to the endgame?

Do you really think they'd bother after 20 years of boating there?
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by Mark R » Sun May 10, 2009 9:00 pm

jmmoxon wrote:Unfortunately Natural England do have the power to ban us from rivers
Is this proven? Is there precedent?



Speculation: BCU SW asked for legal clarification of why paddlers couldn't navigate the river, before they would discuss renewing the old failed Access Agreement. This legal clarification hasn't appeared yet. However NE then suddenly and mysteriously showed an interest in river access rights.

Is any of the above correct?


Also - can we stop this 'Watersmeet to the Sea' charade. We are discussing the entire river, because that is what paddlers paddle.
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by pete thorn » Sun May 10, 2009 10:25 pm

Legal clarification? It depends which lawyer you speak to. We know and value Doug Caffyn's work. It gives powerful arguments but hasn't changed the current interpretation yet. The case law on river 'trespass' would not stand up to modern scrutiny. The only definite clarification will have to come in a court. But as no-one has been taken to court for access over the last 30 years, we can assume there is not much risk there.

This is not an 'agreement' Mark. It's an arrangement where the NT have accepted canoeing by everyone on the river, not just BCU members, without permits, dates or restrictions other than levels, no less than available in other countries. As a model it can be shown to work and have wider impact on the main influences such as National Trust, Nat Parks, EA, Natural England etc. and through them to government. It shows respect for people and organisations who share our appreciation and care of the environment. It establishes equal access with other groups.

'Why should we care?' Because by appearing to be dismissive of other's interests we give succour to our opponents, who like to try to paint us as petulant, irresponsible, maverick, trespassers etc. It's undeniable that paddling rivers and remaining polite when challenged has established precedents which are just about unstoppable. It has shown organisations like the NT that they have nothing to worry about. Why alienate people who currently are supportive by taking doctrinaire positions?
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by jmmoxon » Sun May 10, 2009 10:39 pm

'Why should we care?'
Most access problems are caused by having to deal with every individual along the river, so any one can block an agreement, Natural England are a government department - legislation is their business http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwor ... fault.aspx
Is this proven? Is there precedent?
They have banned off-roaders from some green lanes, where previously they had the right to drive - because they are seen to be undesirable.

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by meatballs » Sun May 10, 2009 10:58 pm

pete thorn wrote:This is not an 'agreement' Mark. It's an arrangement where the NT have accepted canoeing by everyone on the river, not just BCU members, without permits, dates or restrictions other than levels, no less than available in other countries. As a model it can be shown to work and have wider impact on the main influences such as National Trust, Nat Parks, EA, Natural England etc. and through them to government. It shows respect for people and organisations who share our appreciation and care of the environment. It establishes equal access with other groups.
Aye the model is great, paddling at environmentally sound levels (which could be fine down to when there is no water in the river for all the research tells us at the moment?). It's the big contradiction of then saying you can paddle at whatever levels, just not this summer, whilst someone does some vague research as to whether you can paddle or not.
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by jmmoxon » Sun May 10, 2009 11:00 pm

Or they take a case against us and lose - which is then getting to the endgame?

Do you really think they'd bother after 20 years of boating there?
Do you really want to take on a government department? Summer paddling has definitely been objected to throughout - so can't claim anything like a right of way.

Natural England are very unlikely to lose a prosecution on the East Lyn as it would be based on disturbance of wildlife - I have seen an Otter on the Hoaroak - protected species are definitely to be found there.

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P.S. Shouldn't most of this thread now be moved to Inland?
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by jmmoxon » Sun May 10, 2009 11:02 pm

Aye the model is great, paddling at environmentally sound levels (which could be fine down to when there is no water in the river for all the research tells us at the moment?). It's the big contradiction of then saying you can paddle at whatever levels, just not this summer, whilst someone does some vague research as to whether you can paddle or not.
The difference is that it's a government department that is saying this, not just the landowners, as in previous cases.

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by meatballs » Sun May 10, 2009 11:13 pm

jmmoxon wrote:Natural England are very unlikely to lose a prosecution on the East Lyn as it would be based on disturbance of wildlife - I have seen an Otter on the Hoaroak - protected species are definitely to be found there.
You've seen an otter? They better block off the footpath that runs along the hoaroak then...

If it did go to court and amazingly whomever lost because they brought a sound environmental case forwards, it would be a slap on the wrist because the actual impact caused by an individual would be so unimaginably small and you could contrast it with the judge/magistrate to 20 years of similar boating which hasn't yet scared away the otter...

It wouldn't happen anyway, their enforcement policy is to a) send a warning letter, b) issue a caution (and if you don't accept) think about prosecuting. Which they'll only do if they have a 'reasonable' chance of winning and it's in the publics best interest.
22. Some of the public interest factors that Natural England will consider when deciding whether to prosecute include:
•the impact on the natural environment; - little or none
•the foreseeability of the offence and the circumstances leading up to it; - ?
•the intent of the offender; - recreation
•the history of the offender; - all round nice guy
•the attitude of the offender; - I didn't know I was slaughtering innocent otters in their sleep honest guv? ;)
•the deterrent effect of the prosecution; - maybe
•the offender’s personal circumstances. - no commercial gain
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by jmmoxon » Sun May 10, 2009 11:22 pm

If it did go to court and amazingly whomever lost because they brought a sound environmental case forwards, it would be a slap on the wrist because the actual impact we have caused is so small and you could contrast it with the judge/magistrate to 20 years of similar boating which hasn't yet scared away the otter...
The impact at the time may be insignificant, but it wouldn't help our case for getting general access to rivers through the government - as it would give Natural England reason to object. But, I also don't expect them to take anyone to court over this - just don't think it's worth upsetting them until we see what's happening.
the impact on the natural environment; - little or none
Summer paddling could affect breeding species - winter paddling will not

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by meatballs » Sun May 10, 2009 11:41 pm

could.

General access through the government? Court case or it won't happen :)

p.s. the otter literature is really interesting:
In Britain, it is generally accepted that there is no birth peak, and that cub births are distributed evenly
throughout the year (Stephens 1957, Mason & Macdonald 1986). However, data collected for this
project suggest that there may be a bias towards autumn and winter births, at least in Wales.
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by jmmoxon » Sun May 10, 2009 11:56 pm

could.

General access through the government? Court case or it won't happen :)
Without research (which Natural England are saying they will do) then 'could' is good enough for them to block access. I'm not aware of Otters actually breeding near the Lyn, but there are many other less well-known protected species.

You are probably right about the court case, however, taking on Natural England over an environmentally sensitive site is not the way forward.

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by jmmoxon » Mon May 11, 2009 12:14 am

Last year the National Park Authority expressed concerns about "unrestricted" access: http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/a ... item14.pdf

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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by pete thorn » Mon May 11, 2009 11:37 am

Just on the otter issue, I am informed by NT officers that 20 years ago there were no otters in the Lyn....hunting? pesticides? no-one really knows. There were lots of escaped mink causing mayhem with the water voles. Now there are otters, and no-one has seen a mink in a while. The obvious conclusion is that 20 years of canoeing has environmental benefits!
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Re: RIVER EAST LYN (Watersmeet to the Sea)

Post by Mark R » Mon May 11, 2009 9:44 pm

I've seen otters whilst paddling above Watersmeet.
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