River Barle - Simonsbath to Withypool

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River Barle - Simonsbath to Withypool

Post by Mark R »

Last edited by Mark R on Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: RIVER BARLE (Simonsbath to Withypool)

Post by The Barron »

are you allowed to paddle this in the summer?

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Re: RIVER BARLE (Simonsbath to Withypool)

Post by Vulch »

Despite the present principles of 'access for all' and 'paddle it if it's up', the access agreement on the Barle is still sort of adhered to. I paddled it last Summer and got a little bit of light flack from the local paddlers. I don't mind crossing the odd fisherperson, but pi$$ing off other paddlers made me feel a little bit guilty ;-) I believe it's a bit more of a fishing river than the Dart too. The bit you refer too is also not even within the access agreement(for what it's worth) - I think there is kind of a trade-off - we don't use the bit above Tarr Steps, and then we can paddle the bit below Tarr Steps without any problems at all for much of the Autumn/Winter/Spring.

The other issue is that there is rarely enough water in it in the Summer (VERY rarely), and it can be a bump and scrape even in winter.

The Exe from Bolham to Tiverton is a more popular run in the area if there is enough rain in the Summer - the catchment area is much larger and it therefore comes up more readily. You are also less likely to meet any fisherfolk.

The above statements are simply my personal view on the subject - at the end of the day, it's obviously your call.

Hope this helps.

Simon

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Re: RIVER BARLE (Simonsbath to Withypool)

Post by neilwragg »

Since my in-laws live a few miles from Simonsbath and, having just got a canoe, I was interested in tryoung out this section of the Barle.

I've mountain biked alongside as well as waded through this section of the Barle in every single month of the year including christmas eve, new years day, snowy winters,
hot summers at morning, noon and night and hardly ever met a soul until Withypool.
In fact one highlight was a bunch of semi-naked girls swimming near cow castle but I digress.
There's one place where I've seen people other than dog walkers and that is just before Landacre.

So any thoughts? It'll be another month before I next get a chance to try it.
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Re: RIVER BARLE (Simonsbath to Withypool)

Post by jadedkayaker »

FWIW, I paddled this section many years ago (25 12 1990, to be precise) and also only encountered human life at Withypool - a posh chap in a vehicle who clearly thought we were about to launch at the bridge. He helpfully informed us that there was an agreement from Tarr Steps only. We thanked him for this and wished him a Merry Christmas as we continued to pack up. No semi-naked persons-of-a-female-type-gender, but they were probably at home opening their presents.

This being in the days before UKRGB, our local knowledge was sketchy, and we chose not paddle to Tarr Steps because there was a wire suspension bridge, piled up with tree debris, half underwater and swinging about in the current. The Steps themselves were completely submerged......we figured it was high water. The river description is entirely accurate. The "extended thicket" (beech trees meeting in the middle) and the sheep fences were particular highlights that you would want to avoid. You're obviously familiar with the scenery and the remoteness of the area, which in my view would be the only reasons for an experienced paddler being here, although it would be fine for relative novices, or perhaps a "source to sea" type adventure.

Given Adam's comments and the sensitivities of the locals you wouldn't want to be here in low water - I doubt you could paddle it then anyway.

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Re: RIVER BARLE (Simonsbath to Withypool)

Post by harrywatson »

by neilwragg on Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:48 pm

Since my in-laws live a few miles from Simonsbath and, having just got a canoe, I was interested in tryoung out this section of the Barle.

I've mountain biked alongside as well as waded through this section of the Barle in every single month of the year including christmas eve, new years day, snowy winters,
hot summers at morning, noon and night and hardly ever met a soul until Withypool.
In fact one highlight was a bunch of semi-naked girls swimming near cow castle but I digress.
There's one place where I've seen people other than dog walkers and that is just before Landacre.

So any thoughts? It'll be another month before I next get a chance to try it.
Do you have any other previous experience, seriously dont go without some other experienced people who have done whitewater paddaling before, there has been a fatality on that river by an inexperiened canoesist a few years ago. I would suggest paddaling lower down where your within the acsess agreement its lovely down there, the upper section is a grade up.

Good luck.

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Re: RIVER BARLE (Simonsbath to Withypool)

Post by neilwragg »

Thanks, it was a great little trip but not dangerous, you could have waded most of it.
I put in at Simonsbath and needed just one portage over a sheep fence and some shunting over grounded rocks before making a brew at Withypool.
Just the remoteness was worth it though.
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River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by adestar »

Has anyone done the extended Barle trip recently from simonsbath?

Is it suitable for open boats or just kayaks?.

I've seen the get in point beyond the second sheep fence, are there any more significant hazards beyond the start point?

Any recent grief from landowners?

Any recent info much appreciated (less for usual moans and drips about landowner biased

access agreements!).

Cheers blades.

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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by adestar »

Many thanks for all the positive input to my original post, most useful - not!

Anyway, nevertheless I did the trip recently and can commend it to anyone wanting a wilderness experience with a difference.

Some of the guides to this trip need amending, the initial portage is at least 800mtrs from Simonsbath not 500, there are three sheep fences not two and the river is not flat after Landacre bridge.

High water would be jolly and good for opens.

Thanks again!

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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by pete thorn »

There hasn't been agreed access to the Withypool to Tarr Steps run for some years. However, I met one of the significant landowners yesterday and he is happy to discuss access. He has been upset by canoeists landing and lighting a camp fire, in a SSSI! He will need to negotiate with Natural England. I know some people scorn access arrangements, but better to work with people than to make enemies of them. If you choose to access this section please don't land or light fires!
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by Mark R »

pete thorn wrote:some people scorn access arrangements
The overwhelming majority of paddlers do not believe that access agreements are the way forward. Do you disagree?
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by pete thorn »

No I agree they don't work, by and large, or as in this case can be derailed by one person. I think it's just better to talk to people, take heed of what upsets them and try to avoid giving ammunition to opponents. That way we get continuing support from the public, most of whom can't believe a flowing river is seen as 'private'. Our club continues to use the Barle, as we have for the last 20 years. This other landowner says he wants to discuss access, so it would be self defeating not to discuss.
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by Mark R »

Apologies, my question was ambiguously phrased.

You say that 'some people' scorn 'agreements'. I suggest that the overwhelming majority do.

On reflection...is this still your position?
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by pete thorn »

Actually, a lot of people only paddle on rivers where there is an 'agreement', such as Millfield School and other youth organisations which are vulnerable to threats and bluster. Individuals can afford to be make personal decisions about whether or not to paddle. My background in youth work makes me aware of the constraints for organisations. Nothing is going to change in the short term but we can raise public awareness and support by demonstrating the out dated notions of exclusive access for the privileged few. We are nearly 100 years behind the progress made towards access on land and need a public campaign with a clear strategy. Otherwise we are just seen as a minority interest, lacking agreement in what to do about access.
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by Mark R »

I don't disagree with a word you've just said, Pete.

But of course, again you haven't answered my simple question.
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by pete thorn »

The majority of people posting on this site agree that VAAs don't work, sure. There are so few rivers where there are workable VAAs in place, and many of these are only partially helpful, such as the Lyn, which only applies to 40% of the river, that the assertion that they don't work is self-evident. They are clearly not 'the way forward' as a strategic approach. The nub of this is whether or not we walk away from all VAAs, as in Wales, or try to improve what we might have locally. The position we found ourselves with the Lyn was NT offering extension and spate agreements, then them being pressured to withdraw the offer. So we could not endorse what we were offered. There is no doubt opposition has lessened here, to the point where only a few people now resist on the Lyn. A lot of owners seem to have been reassured by the 'Arrangement' and web cam. I am convinced by Doug Caffyn's research, but until that is legally confirmed we are stuck with the current legal interpretation. The fact that there seem to be few consequences to simple passage down a river is encouraging. My approach is to keep paddling and keep talking.
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by Mark R »

And you have still dodged my question! Have you considered a career in politics?
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by Dave Thomas »

Just to add an extra voice to this duel - it is evident that the overwhelming majority of paddlers who contribute to this forum scorn 'agreements'. I'm far from convinced that this is true of an overwhelming majority of all recreational paddlers. I think Pete alluded to a similar view a couple of 'rounds' ago!

And as for Pete's other comments, I can't see that keeping a dialogue going harms us if it is aimed at keeping channels of communication and education open rather than solely at achieving some sort of 'agreement' at any cost.
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by Mark R »

Dave Thomas wrote:I think Pete alluded to a similar view a couple of 'rounds' ago!
Yes, I understand all that Dave - no 'duel' here, I've simply asked him to confirm whether or not that is indeed what he believes - that those who scorn access 'agreements' are a minority. His evasiveness is bizarre.
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by pete thorn »

Mark R wrote:
Dave Thomas wrote:I think Pete alluded to a similar view a couple of 'rounds' ago!
Yes, I understand all that Dave - no 'duel' here, I've simply asked him to confirm whether or not that is indeed what he believes - that those who scorn access 'agreements' are a minority. His evasiveness is bizarre.
But I didn't say that. I said 'some people', not that they were in a minority or majority. As Dave says, they are definitely a majority of contributors on here, but you can't conclude that this is an 'overwhelming majority' of all paddlers. Lots of paddlers I know hardly ever contribute to this site but do appreciate the access arrangements we have in the south west, imperfect and limited as they are. I don't see what point you are trying to make.
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by Mark R »

I'm not trying to make a point. I'm asking you what you think. I've already said what I think.
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by morsey »

I have three questions for Pete, that I would like clear and direct answers to:

You mention Millfield school, and the coach for the school has written on this forum stating their position quite clearly, and I would like to quote from that, so that you can give us an unambiguous answer to the contradiction it throws up:
We have been in contact with the LAO, Adam Box, and as far as I understand Canoe England are supportive of our actions.
That seems all well and expected, but it completely contrasts the Ure situation, where BCU/CE have actively chastised the coach of a similar group in a similar position.

Do you agree that the BCU/CE were correct to approach the employers involved in the Ure incident and place the coaches in a very compromised, some would argue completely unsupported, position?


The second question is this:
As well as every other river in the South West, there is no BCU/CE endorsed agreement for the upper Dart or loop sections, or for the section above Watersmeet (Which has never had a BCU/CE endorsed agreement) on the East Lyn. Please can you inform how many times you have paddled these sections outside of dates of the agreement you ventured into on the Dart but was not endorsed, and how many times you have paddled above Watersmeet?
pete thorn wrote:I agree and our club paddles on the Barle will continue.
The third question is to re-emphasise the hypocrisy, how do you expect paddlers to take you seriously when, on one hand you flaunt the very agreements you negotiate, and on the other have the audacity to tell us that paddlers want you to keep on negotiating these agreements?

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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by Mark R »

morsey wrote:I have three questions for Pete, that I would like clear and direct answers to:
I just needed a 'yes' or a 'no' to my question and I failed, so good luck with that.
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by pete thorn »

To your first question, no I think they were wrong to do that.
To your second, I don't keep count, but I have always been clear that I will make personal judgements about where and when I paddle. There may be an arrangement or agreement, or there may be nothing in place but access is rarely challenged.
Thirdly, I am not negotiating anything on the Lyn or elsewhere, just building some links to lessen resistance. My voluntary role is to let people know what is going on for the Lyn and let people make there own decisions. Where's the hypocrisy in that?
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by Simon Westgarth »

I think the work Peter Thorn has done in the Lyn catchment has been both progressive and fruitful to ensure that paddlers enjoy the East Lyn during the closed fishing season and the attempts to have an understanding when the river is in flood inside the fishing season. Peter like so many SW paddlers, goes paddling when it rain enough to bring the rivers into condition. Yet some organisations, clubs or groups are unable to have this luxury and will look to the BCU for guidance of where and when to paddle, and thus arrangements, local understandings or in fact agreements clearly have a role. Simon Morsey's contention that the BCU should stop all conversations with other river users whether to building understanding or an agreement, is fine for an individual, but for organisations, clubs or groups, this is not option.

In the SW and especially on the Dart and East Lyn, the representation of paddler's with the other river users has been progressive of late. For years the BCU RAO Adam Box, represented paddler's under the VAA stance, extremely well, and understanding the local situations. Yet paddler's well before WCA rejection of VAA's had rejected them themselves, and simply started to paddle when the river was in condition. At one forum meeting 5 years or more ago, I painted the picture, that paddler's will increasingly ignore the VAA restrictions and look at rain gauges and weather forecasts for their guidance. This has indeed happened, and the number of paddler's from October to March on rivers in the SW has risen considerably. Last year we arrived at an understanding for the West Dart, to appease the EA's spawning reds concerns, especially at Cherry Brook. Still there is one hurdle left for us to clear, and that is spate paddling inside the game fishing season. Now to understand the modern fishermen, is important, in the UK fishing is heavily regulated, and hence why so often we hear that paddling needs to be licensed, as we are quite an uncontrollable lot and in essence un-police-able. So any in fishing season understanding will be hard to come by. However with the use of online water level and rainfall gauges, I believe we can get there especially with the understanding of game fishermen, instead of ignoring all other parties and say f@@k them.

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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by morsey »

pete thorn wrote:Thirdly, I am not negotiating anything on the Lyn or elsewhere, just building some links to lessen resistance. My voluntary role is to let people know what is going on for the Lyn and let people make there own decisions. Where's the hypocrisy in that?
I do not believe that to be entirely true. The opportunity to walk away from discussions for access on the Dart were not taken and it was clear from what Adam Box said that you continued to negotiate access.
Peter Thorn (Vice Chair SW Development Team) and I met with 2 representatives of the Dart Fisheries Association. We had met previously to discuss the new Canoe England access strategy but they had stated that a 365 day agreement would not be on offer. I explained that we could not therefore negotiate an arrangement (the new name for agreements) which would be CE ratified, but that we would like to seek an arrangement for the benefit of those who want to be sure that they will not face any legal challenges while on the river.
Simon W, there is a difference between establishing links to iron out any problems that occur with paddlers on rivers, in particular parking, egress and access points and to identify environmental concerns. That has nothing what so ever to do with negotiating access. I have always stated that I do not think access should be negotiated at local level, the BCU/CE policy is a compromise of that viewpoint but I support it as it represents a fair stance. I have also always said there is a place for local advisers to ensure the logistics of paddlers do not infringe on locals and other river users and to identify and alleviate bonafide environmental concerns. You mention the West Dart, the claims of the environmentally sensitive area, in regards to canoeing impact, were grossly exaggerated. Adam Box demonstrated a complete lack of ability to refute the dubious claims of the EA rep. The whole river was out of bounds, so say, for over twenty years to canoeists because BCU did not have the gumption to head the issue face on, the same personnel are still in place in regional access positions and there is absolutely nothing shown that gives the indication that they have adapted to the new policy.

River Dart access agreement negotiated by Adam Box and Pete Thorn outside of BCU/CE Policy.
River Ure access agreement negotiated by Ken Harrap outside of BCU/CE policy.

The BCU cannot change it's spots.

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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by pete thorn »

Mmmm, you had to go back quite a way to find that Morsey, 29.08.09. Adam was widely thanked by several people, including you, for smoothing out a problem at the time, yet now you attack him. As I said, I am not negotiating anything now, just trying to influence. After Andy Green's departure, CE's access policy is apparently under review and I hope it's made clear soon.
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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by morsey »

Are the Dart and Ure agreements reflective of the change you predict BCU/CE policy to follow? I.e. to accept restrictive agreements.

Where do BCU SW get their figures from for assessment of paddlers views re access? Further up the thread you were asked whether you thought it is a minority of paddlers who do not want agreements and you side stepped the answer, Is the reason for this that you simply do not know the overall views of paddlers or do you not want to admit that you actually believe the number of paddlers who do not want agreements are not a minority? Do you think it would be advantageous for BCU/CE to carry out a detailed pole of paddlers views in order that they can actually produce a policy that is reflective of paddlers views and which notes current law application and social acceptance of use of rivers?

I thanked Adam Box for changing the information on the Dart Access BCU sponsored website to indicate the full truth about the Dart agreement, that it was not endorsed by BCU/CE as it did not adhere to policy. That seemed to be a major effort to get that situation made clear to paddlers, who were viewing the agreement as a BCU agreement, by association of it being presented on BCU website without words to indicate otherwise.

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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by jmmoxon »

Truth is nobody knows whether there is more support for either position, however, there are far more club paddlers than WW boaters (Grade 4+) and there tends to be more support for having agreements amongst them.

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Re: River Barle: Simonsbath to Tarr Steps

Post by morsey »

Based on an assessment of how many club paddlers?

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