GUIDE TO THE RIVER EXE
(Bridgetown to Bolham Weir)
NAME OF RIVER: Exe.
WHERE IS IT?: The River Exe runs from northern Exmoor (Somerset) south to Exeter (Devon), flowing through a large estuary to Exmouth.PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: In Bridgetown (SS 923332), the best launch spot is the bridge itself. Park at the lay-by a hundred metres south along the A396.
Finish at Bolham Weir (SS 948153) where parking is possible in a layby near to some water authority buildings.
APPROX LENGTH: 12 km Bridgetown to Exebridge, 15 km Exebridge to Bolham.
TIME NEEDED: 5 hours+.
ACCESS HASSLES: None reported.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Rain is certainly needed to paddle above Exebridge, but the rest of this section should be paddleable for a long period after rain. Higher water levels are preferable, but you need to be able to correctly 'assess' weirs in order to have a safe trip. Flood conditions may be very dangerous, making breakouts/ portages above weirs difficult or impossible.
GRADING: Generally Grade 1-2 above Exebridge. The section below is mostly flat but with weirs and rapids below weirs forming entertainment.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Trees and weirs. Bolham Weir in particular deserves respect.
Barbed wire strands sometimes appear across the river in the upper reaches.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From Bridgetown the Exe is narrow and winding; watch out for low branches or trees in the river. This section forms a good introduction to moving water but should not be underestimated in high flows. There are numerous small natural rapids and some small weirs.
Below Exebridge, there are few rapids but river winds through more pleasant scenery. Several weirs require careful inspection. Perhaps the most entertaining comes near the end; at Washfield Weir, the river bends to the left and slides over a broken shelf offering plenty of route choices. There are some play waves lurking below this weir and it's not a bad spot to stay and practice skills.
A short way below is Bolham weir, a very nasty affair with a deadly towback. Portage on river right when you see the horizon line, then paddle across the river downstream of the weir to the road to take out.
You now have the option of finishing or continuing down the next section.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley.