GUIDE TO THE RIVER EAST LYN
(Brendon to Watersmeet)
NAME OF RIVER: East Lyn.
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.
APPROX LENGTH: 3 miles?
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.