A trek to the Barle – 26 Mar

With heavy rain due on Saturday evening, we weren’t sure in advance what the levels would be like on the Barle on Sunday. When we woke up on Sunday morning (those of that had remembered the clocks had changed!), all we knew was the level was rising at midnight before the Environment Agency server had crashed (no doubt due to the clock-change), with no idea whether it would be HUGE, or dropping again by the time we arrived. Nevertheless we decided to go ahead and by the time we’d arrived at Coldra for a quick McDonalds stop, the gauges were working again and showing that the river had risen overnight but dropped again quickly to a sensible level. Phew! So, with 6 of us split between 2 vehicles we continued Southwest, enjoying the riverside drive along the Exe as we approached Dulverton. Re-loading and changing complete, we made our way to the get-on at Tarr Steps where we found the river flowing quickly but at a perfectly manageable level for the group we had.

After a quick briefing on ‘eddy-hopping’, we set off using this technique to keep us all safe during the first few hundred metres of continuous grade 2 rapid around several blind bends, until we could relax into our more usual group convoy. We knew there were hazardous trees on route so kept our eyes peeled, but only needed to make one portage at ‘Three Waters’ where we took advantage of being out of our boats to top-up with food and drink before continuing downstream, playing on wave after wave after wave until arriving at Dulverton weir. Here we got out to inspect for a safe route (we found one!) before reaching the final play-wave just before the egress point.

We all agreed that this stretch of continuous, bouncy grade 2 was great fun, offering lots of little challenges and well worth making the journey. No swims, but 2 IMPRESSIVE HAND-ROLLS (although you’re meant to keep hold of the paddle, Sam) and one paddle-roll as Dave got munched in the final play wave. Ah well, dry cars were just round the corner…

This was our last white water trip for the winter season but we will be aiming to get out onto some other white water venues during the spring / summer / autumn – watch this space for details!

Trip information & 2023 statistics to date:

  • 26 Mar 2023, River Barle Tarr Steps to Dulverton, 11km
  • Low/medium water (0.77m on Brushford gauge)
  • 6 kayakers: Chris, Dave, Pete, Phil H, Sam Ha, Steve R
  • No swims, 3 rolls
PaddlerNo of tripsNo of SwimsNo of Rolls
Mike1 (polo)
Phil H200
Sam C310
Sam Ha512
Steve H120
Steve R700

Thanks to Sam for these photos:

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