(Brendon to Watersmeet)


WHERE IS IT?: The River East Lyn is one of two channels which run from northern Exmoor into the Bristol Channel at Lynmouth.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Access at the village of Brendon (SS 766482). There is a carpark with a small toilet block to park quietly behind, beside the village hall. We arrive changed and ready to go. There is a 50p carpark fee box. Walk around the village hall and through a small gate to the river. This section finishes at Watersmeet (SS744486) but you'll almost certainly want to continue down the following section of the river.


TIME NEEDED: Plenty first time down (2 hours+).

ACCESS HASSLES: Environmentally the river is stunning. For this reason, this is not for inexperienced paddlers who need to inspect every few yards. Minimise your effects on the bank's undergrowth by staying in your boat. The hardest fall can be inspected/ portaged over bedrock, thankfully. We have seen an otter here early one morning. The entire of the East Lyn is regularly paddled year-round in appropriate water levels.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This section is always paddleable when the lower section is paddleable. See the water level information advice in that guide. If you can float at the put-in, there is enough water. In high water it is a great run, but missing the small eddies could be very dangerous.

GRADING: Technical and steep continual grade 4, even in low water. One fall may be Grade 5.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Pinning hazard. This small river will not 'fit' large groups. Tree branches in the river are usually a problem, see below.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: About fifty yards downstream of the put-in, the river begins to descend through small steep boulder rapids. The road is nearby above on river left. The first significant rapid appears around a right-hand bend; a three tier drop which is surprisingly steep. The second drop is known as 'the hole from hell'! It's a grabby deep pourover with a powerful towback backed up by a large rock (no problem in low water). Swims here give ample opportunity to visit the 'green room'.

Further steep bouldery rapids eventually take the paddler away from the road (and people) to a beautiful and quiet gorge. There are a number of small drops and blind corners to keep you guessing. A blind horizon line below a sharp 'zig-zag' in the river hides a gnarly 10 foot drop. Vertical pins have happened here in low water and the rock formations are hazardous.

It's not far to the most significant drop on this section of river. The river backs up behind an obvious horizon line and you need to get out on river right. The following rapid, probably grade 5, is often portaged. It's a very tight two-tier waterfall dropping 15 foot in all...which doesn't look safe at all from the pinning point of view. There is an intriguing choice of a 'safer' line or a 'necky' line...

The most difficult falls have now gone, but the river is far from over. It eases off to Grade 2 for half a mile or so, before steepening again in the final mile to Watersmeet. A long series of drops, wavetrains and rocky reefs (grade 4) keep the current moving right up to Watersmeet. In high water these are an incredible ride of waves and holes! However, a tree blocks the river below the main rapid (December 2001), be careful.

Next you pass the National Trust Cafe on river right; staying close to this bank will make you less visible to the tourists there. You are now in the lower East Lyn.

OTHER NOTES: In high water, consider a launch from Malmsmead.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.



Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: River East Lyn - Brendon to Watersmeet -- jmmoxon
2018 Oct 18 09:05:55 AM
There are currently several trees totally blocking the river - right in front of the Rockford Inn (1st pic), just above Double Drop (2nd) & further down near a footbridge. There are also a few between there & Myrtleberry (the house below Watersmeet) that could cause issues at higher flows. Rest of main run is pretty clear.

Re: River East Lyn - Brendon to Watersmeet -- Environment-Agency
2015 Jun 25 10:43:30 AM
We at the Environment Agency are dealing with a serious outbreak of disease among migratory fish on many rivers in Devon including the East Lyn. Two years ago this caused the complete closure of the salmon fishery on the River Lyn (we estimate more than 80% of fish died before they could spawn). Last year again disease was present and very few are thought to have spawned successfully.

We are asking for the assistance of all water users, including fishermen, dog walkers etc. to help the river recover. For canoeists this would include careful entry into and egress from rivers, paddling in good flows only and avoiding contact with river beds wherever possible. We also encourage canoeists to only paddle where there are agreed access arrangements in place.

We are currently trying to establish the extent and cause of the disease affecting rivers across Devon and Cornwall. Until we understand more and are able to implement any suitable measures, our only option to limit the impact of this disease is to protect the surviving salmon and sea trout and their spawn sites.

Thanks for your co-opertaion.
Re: River East Lyn - Brendon to Watersmeet -- pete thorn
2015 Mar 06 08:52:33 PM
In talks with the new general manager of National Trust for the Exmoor and other areas. A positive atmosphere and a series of meetings now planned to review their stance on paddling from Brendon. Hopefully more progress to report before next season.
Re: River East Lyn - Brendon to Watersmeet -- Simon Westgarth
2015 Jan 14 06:34:24 PM
Here are a set of images showing the new put in at Brendon, made especially for kayakers and for storm water to run off the road by the looks of it!! You can seal launch from the top though, perfect.

Re: River East Lyn - Brendon to Watersmeet -- pete thorn
2014 Nov 26 12:03:38 PM
The National Trust have asked me to make clear that they have not given their permission for kayakers to descend the river from Brendon. British Canoeing's policy is that the legal position on passage along inland waters is uncertain, so individuals will need to make up their own minds about paddling. As always, care of the environment and avoiding paddling at low flows is essential.
Login to reply